By Ikechukwu Odu
NSUKKA – Primary school teachers in Enugu State have begun an indefinite strike action over non- payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage by the state government.
The National Union of Teachers, NUT, in the state ordered the teachers to embark on strike in the state in line with the directive of the national body of the teachers that primary school teachers in all the states across the country which have not implemented the new minimum wage should stop work forthwith.
Apart from embarking on the indefinite strike, headmasters and mistresses were also directed to stop preparations of their monthly vouchers using the old salary scales until the relevant authorities agreed to implement the new salary regime.
The state government had said that both primary school teachers and members of the National Union of Local Government Employees were not their staff but those of the local government service commissions, hence they would not pay them the new minimum wages.
They teachers and members of NULGE were also, excluded from the 13th month salary bonus paid other civil servants in 2018 and 2019, saying that they were not their employees but those of the local governments.
The Chairman of the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, had told reporters while defending the non – payment of the new salary scales and the 13th month bonus to the categories of staff that they were not employed by the state government.
“Primary school teachers and local government workers are not our employees.
“You can see that secondary school teachers have been receiving their entitlements promptly because they are employees of the Enugu State government but it is not the same case with both primary school teachers and local government staff. They are not our staff,” Asogwa said.
A school head teacher who confirmed that they had embarked on strike on the condition of anonymity said, the strike took effect from Thursday, April 9, 2020.
According to him, the state government had been treating primary school teachers like slaves in the state.
“When it comes to using teachers and local government staff for politics, they force us to come for silidarity rallies in Enugu but when it is time to get the rewards, they say we are not their staff.
“It is common knowledge that the state governors are not ready to grant autonomy to local governments or even allow free and fair local government elections because they put those who would not challenge them for interfering with local government allocations.
“Governors divert local government allocations for their private use and prevent the payment of statutory entitlements of teachers.
“Retired teachers are being owed gratuities of up to 17 years in Enugu, still the state government does not want us to receive the new minimum wage. This is worse than slavery,” he said.