Primary and secondary school teachers in public schools in Lagos State, western Nigeria, have expressed dissatisfaction with the way they were being treated by the state government and have vowed to express their feelings through their votes in the coming governorship election in the state.
Those who spoke with P.M. NEWS on Wednesday morning cut across primary and secondary schools in the state. They complained bitterly about the arrogance of the Governor Babatunde Fashola-led government officials over issues pertaining to their welfare.
According to them, the major issue at stake is the refusal of the state government to implement the 27.5 per cent Teachers Special Allowance.
“This government has been treating us with disdain. It has not paid our allowances for the past five years.The government has not paid our Leave Allowance, Utility Allowance, Housing Allowance, Transport Allowance for the past five years. Details of all these allowances are not reflected on our pay slips. The country’s minimum wage is N18,000 but teachers are paid less. This is injustice and we are going to do something about it. We are tired of promises that are not fulfilled,” a teacher in one of the secondary schools in Ojodu told P.M.NEWS.
Another teacher at a primary school in Alakuko area of the state, who also pleaded anonymity for fear of being sacked by the state government, confirmed to P.M.NEWS that the state government had for a long time stopped payment of welfare packages such as health and leave allowances to teachers.
“Each time we bring up these issues, the government will tell us it is working on them and that the economy is not favourable right now to implement them. Now, some of us can’t even remember how much we are being owed in allowances,” the teacher said.
The headmaster of a primary school in Somolu accused the government of being insincere in its treatment of teachers. “They are treating us like shit. They don’t care about us. They think we don’t know what is going on.
Councillors and other political appointees that are not as educated as us are earning more than us. Apart from refusing to pay our allowances, the government imposed huge taxes on our salaries which reduced our take home pay.”
A teacher in one of the public schools on Lagos Island said the anger among teachers was spreading very fast and that some civil servants have decided to join the agitation because they have similar complaints.
The teacher who did not mention his name for fear of being victimised warned that the Ekiti experience where the incumbent governor lost woefully can be replicated in Lagos State if nothing is done about the plight of teachers.
When contacted through a text message to respond to the complaints of the teachers, the state Commissioner for Education, Olayinka Oladunjoye, simply said: “we are working on it.”
The State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Segun Raheem, confirmed to P.M. NEWS that there was an issue relating to allowance of teachers with the state government.
According to him, though the state government had paid salaries as at when due and was not owing, same cannot be said of the Teachers’ Special Allowance.
He said since 2011 when the state government considered the minimum wage, it had only paid 60 percent of the allowance by first paying 9.2 percent while it took a strike action for another 9.2 percent to be paid.
He said the NUT was not taking things calmly with the government as it had started demanding for the payment of the remaining 40 percent.
He said the state government was not able to meet the 100 percent with the excuse that the economy was not in good shape.
“Now that the economy is getting better, we wrote and a sub-committee has been set up after meeting with the government,” he said, adding that the letter from the NUT resulted in the forming of a Joint Negotiating Council to look into the issue with a view to effecting payment.
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