Posted by Christian Ogbonna and Nathan Nwakamma | 22 January 2018 | 1,039 times
The eight months salary owed to primary school teachers in Bayelsa State has caused the indefinite closure of all public schools.
Secondary school teachers are also owed three months salary arrears.
The schools have been shut since January 9 when the teachers embarked on strike in the oil-rich state.
Parents and school children on Sunday expressed worries over the indefinite closure of the schools.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in the state called for a total industrial action against the state government.
The situation compelled parents and school children to appeal for a quick resolution of the rift between the government and teachers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NUT had directed teachers in the state to embark on an indefinite strike action.
Primary school teachers in the state are being owed eight months’ salary, while secondary school teachers are owed three months.
Some parents, who spoke with NAN on the development urged the state government and the union to resolve the matter to enable their children return to school.
Mrs Catherine Akpe, a parent, said that the non-resumption of schools was worrisome as children remained at home while private schools are running.
She added that teachers were essential to nation building and should be paid promptly.
Akpe decried the way teachers were being treated not only in Bayelsa State but across the country and appealed to the Federal and state governments to adequately remunerate teachers and make their welfare a priority.
“All my children are in public schools. It has not been easy with them since the strike commenced on January 9.
“The government should look into the plight of teachers in the state because it is not good that you work and by end of the month salary will not be paid.
“My children have been restless in the house since the strike and I cannot take them to private schools because of exorbitant fees,” she said.
Mr Jerry Apreala, another parent, urged the state government to speedily resolve the face-off with the teachers to enable the children return to school.
“I see industrial action as a threat to development. I urge the government to expedite action in order not to push the children into criminal activities,” Apreala said.
Also Ebi James, a student of St Judes Secondary School, noted that remaining at home after the Christmas and New year holidays while their counterparts in private schools are in schools was not a good development.
“We have so far lost two weeks and it will take the grace of God to recover lost grounds. We need to go back to the class. They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. They should sort out the problems and re-open schools,” James said.
Governor Seriake Dickson had promised to make the well-being of workers, including teachers, a priority.
Out of N14.8 billion received from the Federal Government in the last trench of the Paris Club refunds, N5.6 billion was used to pay one-and-a-half months’ salary arrears of workers prior to the strike.
Mr Kalaama Toinpre, the state’s NUT Chairman, said the union was committed to protect the interest of its members.
“Yes, the strike is still on. Plans are on-going to settle the salaries of members in the state.
“The strike was called by the national leadership of NUT in the states where teachers are owed. So we in Bayelsa complied.
“The national leadership of NUT were in the state and met with government and held fruitful dialogue.
‘We are going to await further directives on the way forward,” Toinpre said. (NAN)
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