OYO NUT STRIKE: TEACHERS FAIL TO COMPLY WITH BLACK ATTIRE DIRECTIVE

By NBF News
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The level of compliance with the directive given by the Oyo State wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) that teachers in the state should wear black attire to their different schools to protest the refusal of the state government to implement the payment of 27.5 per cent salary increase, varied in most of the schools visited by Daily Sun yesterday.

While some of the teachers complied strictly with the directive, some deliberately decided not to be part of the exercise, closing to be indifferent to the 'wear black attire order.' The NUT had at its 4th quadrennial delegates conference held at Asaba, Delta State directed all the teachers in the four states (Oyo, Abia, Plateau and Rivers) that were yet to implement the agreement reached between the union and the Nigeria 's Governor's Forum in August 2008 to resume the suspended strike action without further notice until the package was paid.

NUT in its communiqué at the end of the conference, condemned in strong terms the lukewarm attitude of the governors of the four states that were yet to implement the agreement, while also commending those that had effectively implemented the said agreement.

But the Oyo State wing of the union last week alerted that, its members would begin a warning strike as from Wednesday, June 16, while Thursdays would be observed as days to wear black attire to schools to demonstrate their mournful condition in the state. While the warning strike is expected to last for 21 days, the state wing of the union, through its Secretary, Mr Olu Abiala also gave the State Governor, Adebayo Alao Akala a 21-day ultimatum to implement the 27.5 per cent increment or face total strike.

However, Daily Sun investigation in most of the schools visited yesterday confirmed that majority of the teachers did not wear the black attire to their different schools as directed by the leadership of the union. At I.M.G Primary School , Salvation Army, Oke-Padre Ibadan, most of the teachers did not wear anything close to black. One of the teachers who spoke to Daily Sun under condition of anonymity, said 'most of us are not wearing black, not because we are against the directive of NUT but because we are not used to such clothes. We believe wearing black is not the solution. Besides, where is the money to buy the black attire? It is unfortunate that you did not meet us on the assembly this morning, we have prayed for God's divine intervention. He is the only one who can fight our battle, because the suffering is too much, so wearing black is not the issue.'

The story was the same at Saint Gabriel Secondary School Sabo area in Ibadan. Many of the teachers on duty did not wear the black attire, while a few that wore the dress said they wore it in strict compliance with the directive given by the leadership of the union. One of the teachers, who was wearing the black attire when Daily Sun visited the school, condemned the attitude of some of her colleagues over their failure to wear the black attire. 'I expect that all of us would wear the black attire today, at least to demonstrate that we are not happy with this government, we should let people know that we are suffering under this government, why should we be the odd one out. In the whole of the South-West, Oyo State is the only state that is yet to implement the 27.5 per cent increment. I am now in level 9 step 7 and my take home pay is less than N28,000,how do I cope with that. Look teachers are not happy,' she declared.

Other teachers who did not wear the black dress, however, said their failure was not deliberate but added that NUT instruction was that they should wear anything black, 'so those of us that are not wearing black, it is not that we are against the directive, we are in total support,' one of the teachers stated.

Also at Community Grammar School Mokola, some of the teachers who were wearing the black attire condemned the state government's attitude for foot dragging over issues that border on the welfare of its workers. They wondered why such decisions that affect welfare of teachers should take so long to resolve when other states had implemented the said agreement.

When contacted, the NUT Secretary in the state, Mr. Olu Abiala said 'the decision to wear black attire came as a form of protest to demonstrate the mournful situation in the state, so if some of the teachers are not wearing black, it is not that they are against the directive, of course you know that black is not a colour that everybody would go for. We told them to put on anything that is black.'

Mr. Abiala added that Wednesday was carefully selected for the warning strike to coincide with the Oyo State Executive Council meeting so as to make the state government feel the negative impact of the strike action. On what would be the next line of action should the state government fail to heed to the call of the teachers, Abiala declared: 'The union would be forced to go on total strike.'

Efforts to get the comment of the state Commissioner of Education, Professor Taoheed Adedoja on the issue proved abortive as the commissioner declined comment, 'saying government would make its own position on the issue known at the appropriate time'.