Teachers in public schools in Abia State will begin an indefinite strike action (today) Monday, January 11, 2021 over 12 months of unpaid salaries by the state government.
This is coming as more teachers, owed by the government have died following their inability to pay for hospital bills, buy foodstuffs and discharge some basic family responsibilities.
A teacher who preferred anonymity said about six teachers have so far died between October 2020 and December 2020 “because they couldn’t buy routine drugs, buy food for their families and adequately take care of their family”.
However, the umbrella body of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) issued a statement warning the state government to offset the arrears of salaries or face indefinite industrial action beginning from Monday.
The statement signed the state chairman of NUT, Kizto Kalu and Secretary; Mrs Nnanna Okonkwo said the union has resolved to embark on the strike “because the Abia State government has not taken any tangible step aimed at meeting our demands”.
On December 2, 2020, the national leadership of NUT wrote the state government, informing it of its decision to call its members out of classrooms.
It gave the government a 21-day ultimatum to either pay or face indefinite closure of schools.
But in a meeting held recently by the leadership of NUT in the state, the union observed that none of its demands has been met.
The meeting was called to appraise the union’s demands vis a vis the response of the Abia State government towards addressing them. Said the NUT chairman, “information available to us shows that no invitation from the Abia State government has been extended to us or efforts made by it to meet our demands”.
The NUT leadership described the three months salary payment by the government in December 2020 as insignificant, pointing out that teachers in junior Secondary Schools are still being owed 11 months of salary arrears.
According to him, “Primary School teachers are as at weekend owed three months of salary arrears.
“Therefore, come Monday, January 11, 2021, we’ll embark on indefinite strike action and until they show some seriousness in terms of offsetting the arrears, we’ll not go back to the classroom.
Efforts to get the Abia State Commissioner for Education, Dr Kanaelechi CK Nwangwa to comment on the issue did not succeed as he failed to pick his call.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.