As schools resume from the Christmas and New Year holiday today, the Kaduna State chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has disclosed its intention to begin an indefinite strike action to express its grievance over the sack of about 22,000 primary school teachers by the state government.
In its reaction, the state government has said any teacher who participates will be dismissed.
The government had announced the sack of 21,780 primary school teachers who allegedly failed a primary four test conducted to test their competency.
A notice served yesterday to NUT members across the state and signed by the union chairman and assistant secretary general, Comrade Audu Titus Amba and Adamu Ango respectively directed that the strike begin today, January 8, 2018.
The notice recalled that the union had earlier served a notice of two-week ultimatum for the commencement of an indefinite strike by teachers in both public primary and secondary schools in the state as the government was hell bent on disengaging teachers in its public primary schools based on the competency test.
As a responsible organization, the union decided to ventilate its grievance before the National Industrial Court, Kaduna in suit no.
NICN/KD/53/2017. The court in December 2017 granted an interlocutory injunction restraining the state government from disengaging any teacher pending the determination of the case.
The court order was served to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, but surprisingly, he went on to order the distribution of letters of disengagement to the affected teachers, dated November 3, 2017. We met on January 4, 2018 and unanimously resolved to embark on indefinite strike action effective from Monday 8, 2018, the notice said.
In its counter-threat, the Kaduna State Government said it has instructed its education administrators to open registers in all its schools, starting from today and declare any teacher absent from work as having absconded from duty under the Public Service Rules.
The state government in a statement by Samuel Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant to the Kaduna governor, said it would take firm disciplinary action including dismissal from service against those absent from duty.
It has come to the notice of the Kaduna State Government that the state branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has declared an indefinite strike. This is an illegal action, and will not achieve its aim of derailing the education reforms being implemented by the government.
The Kaduna State Government is not available to be blackmailed into knowingly retaining unqualified teachers. Neither would it mortgage the future of two million primary school pupils because failed teachers are shamelessly mobilizing sentiment.
The government explained that at the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Labour, it met twice in Abuja with the officials of the NLC and the NUT and the delegation was led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai to the first meeting, the government said.
It added that during the interactions, the government made it clear that as an employer, it had every right to determine who its employees were and the minimum qualifications they must possess.