The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, on Thursday called on governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State to pay the six month’s salary arrears owned primary school teachers.
The union made the call in a statement signed by its president, Michael Olukoya, and secretary general, Obong Obong.
The statement recalled that primary school teachers in the state embarked on indefinite strike since October 2013 to press for the payment of their new minimum wage and that since the strike began, the state government has stopped payment of their salaries as threatened.
The NUT reminded the governor that he was elected to better the lot of the citizenry and not to add to their problems, explaining that non-payment of the arrears had made the children of the poor; largely pupils of public primary schools, to remain out of school for over six months.
According to the statement, the problem is capable of bringing attendant negative impact on the innocent pupils of the state in future.
In October last year, primary school teachers in the statto went on strike to press home their demand for the payment of N18,000 national minimum wage, alleging that they received slightly below what other civil servants in the state get.
But the governor debunked the claim, saying that the N18,000 minimum wage approved by the federal government is a national threshold and that his administration has surpassed the limit, stressing that no teacher in the state earns less than N25,000 monthly despite the state’s lean resources.
Suswam warned the striking teachers to return to work in their own interest because he would not shift ground in his responsibility to ensure that people work for the money they earn.
He threatened that primary school teachers in the state who failed to show up at their duty posts in the name of strike would be replaced and that the withheld salary arrears will not be paid.
“They (teachers) have refused to accept the minimum wage I started to pay in September on the account that it is not enough and so they decided to embark on strike. I have stopped paying them from October because you can’t pay people who are not working. I’m not going to pay them and I’m not going to pay the arrears either. What I may eventually do is to recruit new teachers,” he said.