By Remi Johnson
Teachers of the FCT Local Education Authority, LEA, have embarked on an indefinite strike over non payment of promotion arrears and implementation of new minimum wage.
Briefing Journalists in Abuja, the Executive Chairman, FCT Universal Basic Education Board, UBEB, Dr Alhassan Sule, said Area Council Chairmen should be blamed for the strike.
Dr Sule who said FCTA was not owing teachers salaries, noted that the Nigeria Union Of Teachers, NUT may have deemed it fit to commence the indefinite strike, following the failure of Area Council Chairmen to call for a round table with the NUT on how they intend to clear the backlog of promotion arrears of LEA teachers from 2015 till date.
Dr. Alhassan Sule said the Board was surprised to receive a letter from the NUT secretariat that they gave a directive to all teachers in the primary sector not to resume on Wednesday.
According to him,” FCT administration has been doing its best for FCT teachers, in December all teachers that are under the payroll of the FCT administration were paid, that they are not owing any teacher salary.” Sule Asssured
Dr Sule however explained that at the local government level, they were able to implement promotions, but the issue of arrears became a problem.
“I could remember that in December NUT and the local government had an agreement to suspend their strike based on the grounds that they are going to have a round table to discuss the template on how they are going to implement the arrears.
“I believe that what the area councils did by not inviting the NUT to a round table is one of the reasons that they decided to go back to strike. “
Corroborating this assertion, the Director, Administration And Finance, Area Councils Service Secretariat, Mrs Omolola Olanipekun said the FCTA always disburse JAAC allocation to Area Councils as and when due.
According to her, notifications has also been given to all stakeholders for the next FCT JAAC meeting.
“All disbursement that has to do with LEA Teachers were disbursed to the Area Councils. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t see any arrears outstanding. Even before my coming for this meeting, we just received notifications for next JAAC meeting where disbursement will be done to Area Councils” Olanipekun said.
Reacting, Chairman Nigeria Union Of Teachers, NUT, FCT Chapter, Comrade Stephen Knabayi, attested to the fact that payment of salaries is “prompt and regular” but further gave reasons for the strike.
“We have been part of the meeting and members of JAAC where allocations come from the federation account and shared accordingly, where the issue of teachers salaries is made a front line charge. Also, there is never a time when salaries are held by the six area councils.
“But presently, we have directed that schools should be shut down in the six area councils with effect from today Wednesday. That has to do with the outstanding arrears and the non payment of the arrears of the new national minimum wage, and some months of annual increment in some LEAs,” Knabayi said.
Comrade Knabayi maintained that the indefinite strike would continue until they received alerts.