Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Osun State Teachers Proposed Strike:

Press Statement

Osun State Teachers Proposed Strike:

DSM Welcomes Struggle for Implementation of TSS

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter, hereby joins the teachers in Osun State to demand the immediate implementation of the Teachers’ Salary Scale (TSS) which was agreed upon by all the governors in the country in August, 2008. We give our total support to the strike action declared by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) to compel the state government to pay the 27.5 percent TSS salary increase, while also commending the leadership of the union for taking up the issue. The industrial action is slated to be commenced on Monday February 2, 2009.

We call for a congress of teachers in general where the method of struggle can be discussed. The leadership of NUT should reach out directly to other sections of workers and public for solidarity action. They should undertake mass approach to this issue by organising rallies, pickets, press campaign and issuance of education materials – leaflets and posters, to mobilise not only teachers and other workers, but also other oppressed people in the state for this struggle.

We also call on the national leadership teachers’ union to take cue from Osun State wing and commence mass mobilization for a national struggle and strike for the immediate implementation of TSS.

We believe that teachers and indeed all workers are entitled to better living standards especially at this time when the ruling and business classes have battered the economy thus making living hard for the poor and working class people. Consequently, we call for the immediate implementation of the N52, 200 minimum wage being demanded by the NLC, while also calling on national leadership of NLC not to rely on the ruling class but to start building up for struggle in case the governments at all levels fail to implement the wage demand.

Osun State Government’s Hypocrisy

We condemn the attitude of the Osun State government which has been playing cat and mouse game to deceive workers and avoid payment of the TSS. It will be recalled that the teachers had embarked on three months strike action to ensure the implementation of the TSS which is far less than the allowance of the least paid councillor. The strength of the teachers, with the support of the other sections of the society especially workers in other sectors finally humiliated government into submission. This made the governors to agree to the payment of the 27 percent TSS allowances, latest by January, 2009. According to the resolution signed by the Governors’ Forum and the NUT on 6th August, 2008, it said among other points: “With due consideration for the budgeting system and fiscal responsibility, where it is possible for a State to accommodate the implementation within a supplementary budget in 2008, such a State should do so as soon as practicable. Otherwise, implementation should be effected not later than January 2009”.

This statement is meant to give excuse for governors to avoid the payment of the TSS as most of the state governments have not paid the TSS allowances till date. However, the attempt of the Osun State government to avoid the payment of these meagre allowances is shameful. The state government’s claim that it had started paying the TSS since June, 2008 is not only spurious but also ridiculous. The TSS includes examination allowance, hazard allowance, learned society allowance and teaching inducement allowance. The reality is that the Osun State government wants to avoid paying this limited gain of teachers’ struggle.

The government cannot claim not to have money to pay the teachers because the same government had committed tens of millions of naira to politicians in power. Just a few months ago, the Osun State House of Assembly approved appointment of executive assistants to each of the 30 Local Government chairmen on a minimum monthly salary of N50, 000, in a state where majority of the population are poor and public facilities like roads, schools, etc. are in deplorable state. Not only this, members of the boards and commissions in the state are placed on hundred of thousands naira monthly salaries, aside from other political office holders whose salaries collectively dwarf the total salaries of tens of thousands of workers. Therefore, the government has no justification not to pay workers more so that billions of naira that had accrued to the state since 2003 could not be accounted for as basic facilities in the state are in terrible conditions.

Why Teachers must Struggle

The main reason why the state government does not want to pay the money is because the more money spent on workers’ welfare and public facilities, the less the money to be misappropriated both legally and illegally by the ruling cabal in the state. This is why teachers and workers in the state must pressure the state government to pay this TSS. If the state government is allowed to get away with a kobo of this TSS allowances, it will embolden the state government to cut back or refuse implementation of future salary increase and better welfare package for workers. In fact, this salary increase is a far cry from a minimum living wage needed for a better living by workers. Therefore, teachers must defend this TSS with all their might as a stepping stone towards the achievement of the N52, 200 minimum wage being demanded by the central labour leadership. Left to the state and federal governments, the TSS would have been ignored if not for determined struggles of teachers with support of other sections of workers and radical civil society groups. It is this same struggle that the teachers must return to compel state governments, including the Osun State government, to implement the agreement.

Struggling beyond TSS

Even if the Osun State government is finally forced to pay the money, teachers and workers must ensure that government does not use other policies to take away the gain of TSS through retrenchment, increasing tax, exploitative pension scheme, promotion stagnation, etc. Furthermore, they must link the current struggle with the struggle for a N52, 200 minimum wage and better living – free and quality education at all levels, massive job provisions, free health at point of use, good roads etc. This is why the DSM is calling on labour movement and pro-masses organisations in the state to join us in forming Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) as a platform of workers, artisans, students, peasants and youths to mobilise and lead workers and other sections of poor people for collective struggles for improved living conditions and against neo-liberal attacks.

Once again, the DSM commend teachers’ resolve to fight for better living, while also enjoining them for take the struggle forward.

Alfred Adegoke
Kola Ibrahim
Democratic Socialist Movement, Osun State Chapter