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Few Days to WEAC, Bauchi Govt, Teachers Fail to Agree

| March 13, 2013 More

Bauchi โ€” Secondary school teachers began strike in Bauchi in February this year when the state government announced the suspension of workers’ professional allowances. Government said it was due to dwindling resources.

Now the feud between the two parties is getting messier. The state government has filed criminal charges against the leaders of the teachers’ union for leading what officials call ‘illegal strike’ and announced plans to sack the striking teachers.

All public schools in the state have been closed since January as a result of the strike. This is just as the students have only few days to begin writing WEAC examinations to be followed by NECO.

The striking teachers have vowed to steer clear of the examinations. But state commissioner of education Alhaji Ibrahim Aminu said government has made adequate preparations to cover any shortfall in the conduct of the examination. So there is no cause for alarm.

In August last year the state government threatened to reduce the number of its workforce by 50%. But during negotiations with the organised labour, the workers agreed to sacrifice 10% of their salaries for four months, pending improvement in government financial position.

At the expiration of the four months in December, Labour asked government to stop the deduction of 10% as earlier agreed. Government went further to stop the payment of all allowances that were approved by the Yuguda administration.

In view of the stalemate, the state Chairman of the Academic Union of secondary School Teacher (ASSUS) Comrade Abdullahi Tanko Ningi declared an indefinite strike by members of his association. He said the workers only agreed to the 10% deduction from workers’ allowances to cushion the financial position of government and prevent the retrenchment of workers.

Ningi said the professional allowances given to secondary school teachers in the state was approved by Governor Yuguda, hence it is legally binding and there is no basis to withhold any part of the allowances without prior notice to the beneficiaries of such allowances.

He accused government of failing to tell civil servants and the people of Bauchi state the total amount generated from the 10% deducted in the four months that was agreed with civil servants, and what government used the money for so as to encourage the workers to sacrifice more from their take home.

He said that government remained silent and embarked on more ‘illegal deductions’ from the salaries of workers.

Therefore Ningi declared all teachers in public secondary and primary schools under the state ministry of education and special school management board to embark on indefinite boycott of classes until government restored all the allowances.

The union leader also asked government to re-engage eight compulsorily retired education officers and pay them all their salaries and entitlement; convert all contract staffers to permanent; release all impending promotion of teachers and respect seniority in appointing principals.

But Head of Service of the state Mr Abdon Dala Gin said the suspension of workers’ allowances is temporary, pending improvement in government’s financial position.

Abdon Gin added that even the 10% deducted was used to sustain the payment of salaries between August and December because government pays 2.2bn salaries every month.

He said government paid 18,000 minimum wages as and when due as agreed with the organized labour unions in the state through Joint Public Service Negotiations Council and it followed due process.

But the feud has taken a new dimension as chairman of the state Teachers Service Commission Alhaji Yahaya Baba said over 20,000 applications had been received for the position of secondary school teachers and the government planned to recruit following the refusal of the secondary school teachers to call off their strike.

The Chairman said already, the ministry of Education has requested for 3,000 teachers while the state education board has requested for 2,000 teachers, giving a total of 5,000 requests.

He said the commission is waiting for further directives from the state government in regards to the termination of appointments of the striking teachers. He vowed that no teacher can hold the government to ransom.

In a counter move, chairman of ASSUS called for the sack of the state commissioner of Justice Barrister Almustapha Suleiman Hassan for alleged ineptitude and breach of oath of office for advising government to terminate the appointment of striking teachers.

The chairman threatened that this year, there will be no NECO, WAEC, NABTEB and JAMB examinations in Bauchi state if the state government failed to heed to their demands.

The crisis deepened further last week when Police arrested 11 officials of ASSUS in Azare headquarters of Katagum local government, prosecuted them and got them remanded them in prison custody

ASSUS has demanded for their release but police public relations officer ASP Hassan Mohammed Auyo said the officials were in prison by order of court. He said their release is at the discretion of the court.

Ningi said that the union would go to court to secure the bail of its detained members and write a petition against the Bauchi State Commissioner of police, the State Attorney General, the Chief register of the state and commissioner of education.

Comrade Ningi said that the striking teachers from 11 local government of Bauchi emirate and 9 local governments from Katagum emirate will converge at the palace of the Emir of Bauchi and stay there until their members were released.

The question on the lips of observers at the moment now is how soon this face-off will end? The teachers are adamant and government has shown no interest in negotiating with the union. For now, the students are victims of the impasse, and unless a quick settlement is achieved the situation will certainly have a big impact on students’ performance in public secondary schools in the coming national examinations.

Category: Bauchi State News

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