Teachers in Kaduna State have, on Monday, began an indefinite strike over the sack of 21,780 public primary school teachers in the state.
The strike came at the behest of the Kaduna State Wing of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).
A notice of the strike dated 4th January, 2018, signed by the union’s Assistant Secretary General, Adamu Anglo, indicated that a two week ultimatum was earlier issued to the state government to reverse its decision.
The union said the decision became necessary after the state government began issuing sack letters to the affected teachers after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
EduCeleb.com recalls that the teachers were sacked for allegedly failing to score 75 per cent pass mark of the competency test organised by the state government in June 2017.
The Union had thereafter challenged the veracity of claims about the teachers’ performance after Governor Nasir El-Rufai announced in October that it would be sacking the teachers and replacing them with new ones it recently recruited.
Kaduna State House of Assembly (KDHA) had also set up a seven-man committee to investigate the planned disengagement of the school teachers. Its report is not yet made public.
Apparently making reference to the National Industrial Court ruling in December halting the sack of the teachers, the NUT wondered why Mr El-Rufai could still go on with the massive sack.
“As a responsible union, we ventilated our grievances before the National Industrial Court, Kaduna, and the court on Dec. 4, 2017, granted an interlocutory injunction, restraining the state government from disengaging any teacher pending the determination of the case.
“The court order was served to Gov Nasir El-Rufai, but surprisingly, he went on to order the distribution of letters of disengagement to the affected teachers, dated Nov. 3rd, 2017.
“We, therefore, met on January 4th, 2018 and unanimously resolved to embark on indefinite strike action on Monday 8.”
The notice highlighted other unresolved issues with the state government, which include, compulsory retirement of secondary school teachers before their due date as against the 35 years of service or 60 years of age provided by civil service rules.
Other issues are non-payment of 2015 leave transport grant to 3,338 primary school teachers, as well as 2016 and 2017 leave transport grant to all public school teachers despite deductions at source.
The teachers are also asking for payment of salary arrears of more than 15,000 primary school teachers of one to 12 months from June 2015 to July 2016.
According to the union, the government has failed to pay the salaries to some teachers, while others are underpaid.
It also stressed that the state government has also failed to promote teachers and provide teaching and learning materials to schools among others.
Government to sack striking teachers
In a swift reaction to the strike action, Governor El-Rufai threatened to sack any teacher absent from duty.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, El-Rufai said any strike embarked upon by the teachers would be considered illegal and would be treated as such.
“Strike or no strike, nothing would derail the education reforms being implemented by the state government.
“The state would neither be blackmailed by the action of the teachers nor mortgage the future of two million primary school pupils.
“As an employer, the government has every right to determine who its employees are or can be, and the minimum qualifications they must possess,” he said.