Public Schools In Bayelsa Remain Shut Over 7 Months’ Salary Arrears

Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State
Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State

Secondary and primary schools in Bayelsa State have yet to resume for the new academic year following the inability of the state government to clear seven months’ salary arrears owed teachers in public schools.

Teachers in public schools in Bayelsa who are on strike declined to resume work at the end of the long vacation which terminated in the first week of September.

The development has kept pupils and students in government primary and secondary schools at home, more than three weeks into the new academic year.

Bayelsa chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, in a statement on Monday advised teachers to stay at home as the union was yet to shift grounds on its demand on the unpaid salary arrears.

They said the industrial action became inevitable after the 21-day ultimatum given by the State Executive Council of the NUT to the government expired on Sept 19.

According to the statement signed by the state Chairman, NUT, Kalaama Toinpre, and Johnson Hector, Secretary, the teachers frowned at efforts to factionalize the union.

The Bayelsa NUT maintained that it remained the only legally recognized body charged with the responsibility of agitating for the welfare of primary and secondary school teachers.

It was gathered that the governor Seriake Dickson led government in Bayelsa had recognized a rival body known as Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools and was holding clandestine talks with them to abort the strike that has crippled the educational system.

Sources close to the plan said that the government was planning a staggered payment of selected secondary school teachers who are in the factional group who will pledge to return to school while the primary school teachers will be left to their fate.

The NUT regretted that the government had reneged on an earlier agreement reached in May 2016 to pay half salaries to its workforce pending the improvement in the finances of the state.






     

     

    It said that the state government had only paid teachers their January salaries in full and a half-month salary followed in February leaving arrears of seven months.

    Bayelsa Commissioner for Education,  Markson Fefegha, confirmed the allegations  that the government  was involved in factionalising the work force.

    Fefegha said the government had been meeting with the teachers to resolve the issues raised, but declined further comments on the fate of primary school teachers in the state.

    “I have been meeting with the executive of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, I have been explaining to them our efforts so far in meeting our salary obligations.” Fefegha said.

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