Teachers at the Community Staff School in Asokoro, Abuja, have halted their two-week protests against poor pay and general work conditions.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the workers reluctantly took the decision following a memo by the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the school owned by Nigeria’s top intelligence service, the State Security Service (SSS), promising to look into part of their demands.
The BoT’s May 7 memo was addressed to the teaching staff through the chairman of the school’s branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Agu Nwagu.
The memo was followed by an “extra-ordinary” meeting of the NUT where the teachers identified that some of their “critical” demands were “downplayed” by the school management.
But they reluctantly resolve to halt their industrial action with a view to adopting broader strategy to press home their demands.
It was gathered that the workers’ resumption was rescheduled from Wednesday till Monday, May 17, due to the Eid-el-Fitr holiday declared to be observed on Wednesday and Thursday.
This newspaper, in April, reported how the workers embarked on protests against the refusal of the school authorities to comply with court judgments ordering their “integration into the federal public service”.
Established in 1995, the school, comprising primary and secondary sections, is but run as a private institution.
The school, whose administrative positions are occupied by SSS officials, is headed by an Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Director-General of the secret police, while the academic staff members are largely recruited outside the service.
The Executive Secretary is usually in the rank of a Director, an Assistant Director or Deputy Director, and is the sole administrator of the school.
Members of staff of the school have held series of protests as part of their agitation for integration into the federal public service like the staff members of the SSS which owns the school.
In 2014, they obtained a judgment of the National Industrial Court affirming their status as federal public servants.
The judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, in July 2018.
The staff members held their last round of protests and stayed away from work in April demanding the implementation of the judgments.
Call for resumption
PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday obtained a May 7, 2021 memo of the school’s BoT expressing commitment to addressing their welfare and terms and conditions of service.
It called on the teachers to resume work while the school authorities pursued the process of implementing their deeper demands.
“On May 4, 2021, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of Community Staff Schools (CSSA) Asokoro, during its first of 3rd Term 2020/2021 Academic Session Board Meeting, passed the following resolutions:
“That the issue of regularisation of staff appointment from private to public Servants may not be feasible at present. This is in view of certain consultations, which must take place with critical stakeholders.
“Therefore, all teachers are advised to return to class,” the memo, signed on behalf of the BoT Chairman, by an unnamed person, read in part.
The BoT assured that the school authorities were “committed to addressing the welfare of teachers in terms of their pension, promotion, salary review, etc.”
“The school management is to set up a committee to collate areas to enhance the welfare of Teachers for the Board of Trustees (BoT) consideration and action,” it added.
The school’s NUT chairman, Mr Nwagu, said the teachers decided to resume work, although some of their critical demands were downplayed by the BoT.
This is contained in the communique issued after the union’s meeting where the BoT’s memo was reviewed on May 7.
“That the teachers’ main reason of agitation which is to OBEY COURT VERDICT by confirming the status of our appointments as public servants which we are, may not be feasible at present.
“That the Board is committed to addressing the welfare of Teachers in terms of their pension, promotion, salary review, gratuity and so on,” Mr Nwagu wrote in the communique.
The staff’s request that “our employer/proprietor or his representative should communicate us in writing has been met”, he stated.
But Mr Nwagu added, “the issues of regularising our appointments from private to public as well as recall of our disengaged colleagues which are critical and sacrosanct in this struggle were intentionally downplayed by the management.”
He said the union decided to “relax” the protest and resume duties “based on the undiluted love we have for our dear students/pupils especially those preparing for external exams, also passionate pleas from our well-meaning parents.”
He noted that the relaxation of the protest was in the light of the union’s resolution to “diversify our operational strategy.”
“That comrades should get ready to impact knowledge to the children beginning from Monday, May 10, 2021,” the communique added.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...