Primary school teachers in Enugu State have embarked on an indefinite strike action over non-payment of N30,000 minimum wage by the state government.
The State Wing Executive Council, SWEC, of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Enugu State chapter, rising from a meeting on Friday, 6th April, 2022, directed that primary school teachers in the state should not resume for the 3rd term, 2021/22 academic session with effect from Monday May 9, 2022, until the N30,000 National Minimum Wage is paid to their members.
It was observed that some pupils who were not informed of the development went to schools but returned home when they noticed absence of teachers in their various schools.
The teachers had gone on a three-day warning strike to force the state government to pay them the new minimum wage, forcing the government to sue the leadership of the union at the National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Enugu.
The Enugu State government had in an originating summons with number NICN/EN/01/2022, against the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, in the state, led by Theophilus Odo, on behalf of the NUT, asked the court to bar the teachers from embarking on any strike on the ground that they were essential workers.
The government, however, lost the suit, as the NIC ruled that the teachers could go on strike as they were not “essential duty workers,” as alleged by the government.
However, dismissing the suit, the NIC accused the state government of discriminating against primary school teachers.
The NIC, presided over by Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe had in an interlocutory injunction restrained the teachers from embarking on any form of industrial action pending the determination of the substantive suit and ordered an accelerated hearing.
Delivering its judgement on the suit, Justice Arowosegbe, dismissed the suit and ordered Government of Enugu State to go back and negotiate with the teachers, describing it as discriminatory for the Claimant to pay some workers in the state the minimum wage, from February 2020, while refusing to pay the teachers same.
The Judge noted that the state could not stop the teachers from ventilating their grievances through industrial action.
The court, in its judgement delivered on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, held that “the Primary School teachers in Enugu State do not fall within the categories of workers who provide essential services, hence they can embark on strike and other lawful means to press home their demand.”
Vanguard News Nigeria