The Bayelsa State Government has faulted the ultimatum issued to it by the State Universal Basic Education Board branch of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Primary Schools to embark on strike action over delayed salaries for a few months and the reversal of members’ promotions shortly after implementation in April this year.
The government contended that it was not the responsibility of the branch of any union to issue the threat of industrial action, stressing that the true practice of industrial relations requires that a notice could be given only when collective bargaining had failed.
The Deputy Governor, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo stated these during a meeting with the state officials of NASU led by the chairman, Otame Alfred and the union’s SUBEB branch chairman, Sowei Aprebo, at the Government House, Yenagoa, on Thursday.
Ehwrudjakpo said in the instant ultimatum, collective bargaining had not broken down, stressing that even where it fails, “the rules of engagement require the state leadership of the union to give 21 days’ notice, followed by 14 days’ notice and finally seven days’ notice before a warning strike”.
He assured the academic and non-teaching staff of primary schools of government’s commitment towards putting modalities in place to ensure prompt payment of their monthly salaries.
Ewhrudjakpo made it clear that although the state government is not responsible for the challenges facing primary schools, it would engage the local government councils to address the issue of delayed payment of monthly salaries.
He said the present administration places high premium on workers welfare, and would take steps to ensure primary school staff receive salaries at the same time with their state counterparts.
While appealing to the leadership of NASU to be a little bit patient with government, the deputy governor, however, urged them to jettison the idea of embarking on a strike action over the issue.
He cautioned NASU to be properly guided and should not take the labour-friendly disposition of the Governor Douye Diri-led administration for granted.
According to him, the government had concluded the exercise on proper placement of their grade levels and steps, adding that the memo had already been submitted to the Governor for approval and commencement of implementation.
Ewhrudjakpo said, “Something has to be done about the delay in the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries. We will have meeting with the council chairmen on this issue and work out the modalities to ensure they get salaries when others are getting theirs every month.
“But let let me make it clear to you that, it is wrong for a single branch of NASU to issue ultimatum to the state government that they want to embark on strike. It is your state branch that ought to give such ultimatum or notice.”
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