Kaduna State government yesterday described as illegal the indefinite strike action declared by the state branch of Nigeria Union Teachers (NUT), warning that any teacher that is not found on his duty post today will be dismissed. The warning by the state government followed a directive by the state NUT that its member should commence indefinite strike today over the sack of 21,780 public primary school teachers in the state.
In a statement issued by Samuel Aruwan, spokesman to the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, the state government maintained that NUT will not achieve its aim of derailing the education reforms being implemented by the state government. It noted that government will also not be blackmailed to retain the sacked unqualified teachers who failed a primary four examination given them. Aruwan stated: “The Kaduna State Government wishes to inform the public that it has instructed its Education administrators to open registers in all its schools, starting from Monday, January 8, 2018. “Any teacher that is absent from work will be treated with the consequences that pertain to absconding from duty under the Public Service Rules. There can be no doubt that KDSG will take firm and decisive disciplinary action against personnel who absent themselves from duty, including dismissal from service”. The state government stated that the children of the poor are the ones that attend public primary schools, and that the government owes them a decent standard of education, which it will certainly provide. The statement further noted: “It has come to the notice of the Kaduna State Government that the state branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has declared an indefinite strike. This is an illegal action, and will not achieve its aim of derailing the education reforms being implemented by the government. “The Kaduna State government is not available to be blackmailed into knowingly retaining unqualified teachers. Neither would it mortgage the future of two million primary school pupils because failed teachers are shamelessly mobilizing sentiment”. Aruwan recalled that at the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Labour, the Kaduna State government twice met in Abuja with the officials of the NLC and the NUT and that Governor Nasir El-Rufai personally led the Kaduna State delegation to the first meeting. He said, “During these interactions, KDSG made it clear that as an employer, it has every right to determine who its employees are or can be, and the minimum qualifications they must possess. “Kaduna State government recalls that the NUT placed primary school pupils, who are the victims of failing teachers, in danger by pushing them into the streets to demonstrate for the retention of bad teachers. That ruse failed. “Some union leaders are also likely to be prosecuted for assault, unlawful procession and destruction of public property when they attacked the State House of Assembly”. In a notice of strike dated January 4, 2018, signed by the union’s Assistant Secretary General, Adamu, the Kaduna NUT said they were embarking on strike today in protest of the teachers who 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 notice, circulated to all the union executives in the 23 local government areas of the state indicated that a two weeks ultimatum was earlier issued to the state government to reverse its decision. According to the union, the decision has become necessary after the state government began issuing sack letters to the affected teachers after the Christmas and New Year holidays. The notice stated: “As a responsible union, we ventilated our grievances before the National Industrial Court, Kaduna, and the court on December 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 Governor Nasir el-Rufai, but surprisingly, he went on to order the distribution of letters of disengagement to the affected teachers, dated November 3, 2017. We, therefore, met on January 4, 2018 and unanimously resolved to embark on indefinite strike action on Monday 8”. The notice also highlighted other unresolved issues with the state government, such as 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 include nonpayment 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. The NUT also said the government has failed to pay the salaries to some teachers, while others are under paid. It stressed that the state government has also failed to promote teachers and provide teaching and learning materials to schools among others. (leadership News)