13th October, 2011
As Plateau State workers continue the strike to press for the payment of the N18,000 minimum wage, 1,000 teachers in 30 primary schools have refused to join the action.
The teachers, mostly in Jos South Local Government Area, have refused to join the action because they have withdrawn their membership of the teachersâ€™ umbrella body, the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NUT called out the teachers from their classrooms to join other workers in the quest for the better package.
When NAN visited the affected schools on Wednesday, they were open and the pupils receiving normal lectures.
NAN reports that at the Olusegun Obasanjo Special Primary School, Hwolshe, St. Georges School and Islamiyya Primary School, Jos, as well as St. Peters Primary School, Bukuru, schools were in full session.
Mr Chung Pam, spokesman of the teachers, told NAN that they were â€œcomfortably in our classes teaching because we have withdrawn our membership of the NUT.
â€œAbout 1,000 of us (teachers) in Jos South, have withdrawn our membership of NUT and have no reason to embark on any industrial action; we have to be in our classes to teach our pupils.â€
Throwing more light on why they opted out of the NUT, he said that the union imposed a â€œfrivolous N500 levyâ€ which they claimed was for â€œsome development purposes.
â€œWe protested against it and appended our signatures to a letter seeking to withdraw our membership from the union.
â€œThe State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), in a letter to Jos South Local Government, dated Aug. 8, 2011, directed the stoppage of deductions of NUT dues from our salaries, and that effectively ended our membership of that body.
â€œIn effect, we are not part of the body and cannot take any orders from them.â€
On allegations that their withdrawal was meant to break the ranks of labour in the state, Pam said there was no such intention.
â€œI think that is an unfair and frivolous allegation,â€ he said.
According to him, their problems are solely with NUT and have nothing to do with any other person or group.
He argued that their decision to withdraw from the NUT was guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
â€œThe constitution guarantees us the right or freedom of association; we cannot belong to any union against our wish.â€
Pam said that the struggle for rights or privileges did not have to be through strikes.
â€œWe could make our point without abandoning our offices; we could make our case successfully through peaceful dialogue so as not to cripple the economy or the educational sector,â€ he said.