As Teachers Ignores Threat, Shun Resumption
Rather than pacifying and resolve all the teething challenges affecting the welfare of teachers, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has resulted to the use of horse whip and intimidation on the striking primary and secondary school teachers under the umbrella of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Delta state chapter, to resume work immediately.
The primary and secondary school teachers across the state had last Thursday embarked on an indefinite strike following what they described as “illegal and unwarranted” deductions from their salaries by the Okowa led government as well as vehement refusal to be sensitive to teacher plights unlike the past administration of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The striking teachers have vowed not to call off the strike until their complaints and demands are fully meant by Okowa, who they now see as King Pharaoh of Egypt during the time of Joseph.
In a special government announcement signed by the state Director of Information, Mr. Paul Osahor Saturday, the governor directed the teachers and principals of public secondary schools in the state to resume normal classes with effect from today Monday, March 20, 2017, without fail, threatening that government shall apply the policy of “No Work, No Pay” on any school principal or teacher who fails to resume work on the above date.
The statement read thus: “It is hereby announced for the information of the general public, particularly Deltans, that His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, has directed Teachers and Principals of Public Secondary Schools in the state to resume normal classes with effect from Monday, March 20, 2017, without fail.
“It will be recalled that at the enlarged meeting between the State Government and Labour Unions chaired by the Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, it was evident that the State Government had met all its salary obligations to public servants (inclusive of Teachers in Secondary Schools and Technical Colleges employed under the Post Primary Education Board).
“The continued “sympathy” strike by Secondary School Teachers, in the state, in solidarity with their Primary School counterparts is quite unreasonable and uncalled for as matters concerning Promotions and Inter Cadre Transfers, have been approved and implemented by the State Government, through the Post Primary Education Board. This is in line with Government avowed commitment to the welfare of Teachers in the State.
“This ill-timed and ill-conceived strike action is particularly worrisome, considering the fact that the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) will commence on Monday, March 20, 2017. Accordingly, the State Government will not tolerate strike actions that would jeopardise the smooth conduct of teaching and learning in public schools in the State.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the State Government will henceforth apply the policy of “No Work, No Pay” on any school Principal or Teacher who fails to resume work on Monday, March 20, 2017. All Secondary School Students in the State are by this announcement, enjoined to resume normal school activities on Monday, March 20, 2017.
“Chief Inspectors of Education (CIEs) and Heads of Zonal Offices of the State Post Primary Education Board are to ensure strict compliance with the State Governor’s directive. School Principals are to keep daily records of staff attendance and transmit same to the Post Primary Education Board Zonal Offices.” the statement said.
Meanwhile, NUT and All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, (ANCOPSS), Delta State Chapter are presently in dagger drawn battle with Okowa on his threat and intimidation of “No Work, No Pay” should teachers refuse to call off their ongoing strike and resume class today.
The NUT and ANCOPSS vowed that no form of intimidation and threats been employed by the state governor and connivance with the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), will make teachers to suspend their ongoing strike, saying that those giving directives to teachers to resume school despite the ongoing industrial strike action, lacks the jurisdiction to do so.
Okowa had on Saturday March 18 in a press statement, directed members of ANCOPSS to ensure that secondary school teachers resume work from Monday March 20, threatening to invoke the “no work, no pay policy”.
Reacting to the threat, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr. Jonathan Jemirieyigbe insisted that apart from the union, no one has the right to direct teachers to suspend the ongoing strike in the state, “Only the Union has the right to suspend or call off the strike not an association like ASUSS. Teachers are ready to fight for their rights no matter the threat or intimidation from any quarter.”
The union while warning the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) to discard its propaganda and connivance with the state governor, it stated that the powers of the NUT as registered trade union cannot be usurped adding that though, ASUSS still remain members of NUT but lacks that powers and constitutional rights to direct Secondary school teachers to call off the strike.
Also, the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, ANCOPSS, Delta State Chapter says the decision to call off the ongoing strike action embarked upon by secondary and primary school teachers in the State, rest on the Delta State Chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT and not its members.
According to the State President of ANCOPSS, Mr. Brisibe Ebipade Mark, by virtue of their positions as school principals, they are always in their duty posts to render skeletal services during strike action saying that for the “avoidance of any doubt, Issues such as non-implementation of promotion arrears, inter-cadre transfers and non-payment of pensions to retirees for five years running affect secondary schools /technical schools.
Also reacting, the Warri South local government chairman of NUT, Mr. Ikuejawa Ishmael, averred that it is only the Delta State Wing Executive Council, SWEC of NUT which declared the strike action that can call it off, and wondered why teachers were being owed salaries for couple of months, yet political appointees get paid as at when due.
It would be recall that the SWEC had on Thursday March 9, 2017 resumed its suspended strike action over the non-implementation of its 10-point demand which includes, non-implementation of monthly salaries to primary school teachers as at when due, decision by JAAC to reduce primary school teachers monthly salaries to 81%, non-implementation of teachers promotions by PPEB and SUBEB as well as non-payment of promotion arrears of primary and secondary school teachers.