Teachers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Teachers in Edo State who embarked on a strike on June 1, this year, to press home their demand for the full implementation of the 27.5% Teachers’ Special Allowance (TSA) from the 17% which the state Government currently offers, yesterday called off the strike action.
NUT Chairman in the State, Comrade Patrick Ikosimi announced this yesterday after a meeting with the government in Benin City, yesterday.
Ikosimi said having reached an agreement with the national body of NUT on what the state government presently pays and on the continued discussion on how to pay the balance, “the strike is hereby called off and all teachers are herby directed to report at their duty posts from Thursday, July 11.”
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Oshiomhole thanked the Union for suspending the strike, adding that government recognizes the legitimacy of strike actions.
According to the Governor “I remain convinced about the merit of paying teachers better than the rest of the civil servants, which was why Edo State one of the first to implement the teachers Special Allowance of 27.5%. While we were implementing, more than 50% of States were not paying. We implemented because of who we are, not that we are richer than those States but we are convinced about the merit of paying Special Allowances to teachers if that would encourage more brilliant people to go into the profession”.
He explained “we were paying these when a new minimum wage was adopted. In Edo State, we agreed that consequent upon the implementation of the new minimum wage we had to adjust wages across the board for all civil servants including teachers. While we adjusted our wages upwards many States refused to implement across the board the increase in the basic pay of civil servants.
“Having increased the wages across the board we found that the cost of implementing the 27.5% was now such that majority of our local government were not going to be able to afford it even they were to resolve to do nothing else but pay salaries, he added.
Oshiomhole disclosed that Government agreed with the NUT to pay the same amount that the teachers were being paid before the minimum wage was adjusted, adding “by the time the rate was applied it translated on the average to about 17%.
“We all agreed that we would watch finances of the State and the Local Government and as soon as they improve we would revisit the issue with a view to paying the balance of 10.5%.
He said “unfortunately the national union of the NUT decided to take a blanket decision that did not take into account whether or not you were paying anything or whether you had implemented the minimum wage”.
The Governor said that Edo State did not fall into the category of States that were mentioned in the NUT resolution adding “I had thought with the understanding reached between the Labour Union and the Government, they were not to lump us with the States that have not implemented”.
“Even now we have made the point that those States that have not been paying who have since returned to work, all that have been offered them is 15% on the basis of promise. Yet in Edo State where we are already paying 17.5%, our own people were on strike. For me these were the issues”.
The Governor maintained that the adjustment of the Secondary Schools Allowance was to reward and motivate them as they were teaching while the negotiations were on.
“What we have done was a conscious way to make a point that you don’t need to be or strike in Edo State for us to listen and the fact that you are working does not devalue the weight of your grievances or the merit of your case. You can get what you want without strike”, he noted.
Oshiomhiomle declared “now that the strike is suspended, the teachers will be back to school, that is not the end of the matter. This has now created a peaceful environment for the Stakeholders to look at how to find lasting solutions to these problems of between 17.5% and 27.5%.”