Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Osun Teachers’ Strike: DSM Commends Teachers

Osun Teachers’ Strike: DSM Commends Teachers

For Immediate implementation of the TSS now!

The Democratic Socialist Movement, Osun State Chapter commends teachers in Osun State, under the umbrella of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), for embarking on dogged struggle for the defence of their economic rights, vis-Å•-vis the implementation of the Teachers Salary Scale (TSS) which various state governments had earlier agreed to pay but then reneged upon.

We however condemn the state executive of NUT for calling off the strike on Monday March 23, without securing concrete agreement with the state government on the implementation of the pay rise agreement.

It will be recalled that the teachers had earlier embarked on a five-week strike between July and August, 2008 to press home their demand for the implementation of the 27.5 percent rise covered in the Teachers’ Salary Scale (TSS). Despite the availability of huge funds at the disposal of the state and federal governments, they turned deaf ears to the teachers’ demand. Consequent upon the strength of the teachers’ struggle, the Governors’ Forum agreed to the implementation of the TSS by January 2009.

Shamefully however, many state governments, including the anti-poor Osun State government, refused to honour their agreement with the NUT and thereby forced teachers to go on another round of strike action on February 24.

This is not unexpected as the governments at all levels are not committed to provision of quality public education. The top public officers, having seen the rot they have created in public education, do not send their children to these public schools, but rather use the state resources meant to develop public education and other social services to fund their children’s exorbitant education.

The excuse by the Osun state government (like other state governments and federal government) that there has been dramatic decline in the nation’s revenue, and therefore working and poor people must suffer for this is to say the mildest, unfounded. In the first instance, it is not workers and poor people that created the economic crisis but the ruling and capitalist class themselves, who have wasted the huge resources of the nation which should have been used to develop the country through massive development projects and provision of infrastructure and basic needs for the benefit of society. It is on record that politicians consume over N1.3 trillion as salaries and allowances aside sideline looting and diversion of public fund.

It is unfortunately that despite the doggedness of rank and file teachers to the struggle, the Osun state leadership of the NUT called off the strike without a tangible result. The strike was called off on the basis of promise by the state government that it would implement the pay rise agreement in June 2009 if the state revenue improves. This is a clear message that the government will not implement the pay rise. In June, the teachers will be told the revenue has not improved. Worse still, the anti-worker state government is insisting on deducting five days from teachers’ salary for the enforcement of the No-work, No-pay policy while teachers’ February salaries have been delayed till April! We expected the state NUT to have learnt from past empty promises of the government. To have called off the strike on this false promise is a blatant error.

But the strike call off is a product of the failure of the leadership to involve the rank and file of teachers in the day-to-day activities of the strike through mass actions including mass meetings, rallies, protest marches, press campaign and public enlightenment from the local to the state level in order to, among other things: build teachers morale and confidence in the struggle; mobilize the rank and file of workers in other sections and general public for support and; to politically pressure the government to submission. The failure to build the struggle in this line provided ample opportunity for government to blackmail the teachers through state-wide propaganda and to even threaten them with No-work, No-pay policy. Furthermore, the failure to bring teachers together through rallies and mass meetings also isolated the teachers from the NUT leadership which prevented the development of the best strategy to confront the government’s threat as rank and file teachers were not provided the opportunity to contribute to the strike.

However, the failure of the national leadership of the NUT to coordinate the struggle in a coherent manner gave leadership of many state wings of the NUT to back out of the struggle without tangible result, which further isolate those state leaderships that wanted to struggle.

We believe that the state government only wants to buy time so as not to pay the TSS. By June, another excuse will be found to avoid the payment. If at all the state government will implement this pay rise, it will be as a result of another struggle (or threat of it). In fact, at this time when the economic indicators are frightening – rising inflation ang cost of living, rising exchange rate, etc, we expected the labour leadership to have kick-started a mass campaign for the implementation of the N52, 200 minimum wage being demanded by NLC.

Consequently, we in DSM, Osun State call for:

1. Rejection of the Osun State government’s promise and for the immediate implementation of the TSS, backdated to January, 2009.

2. No to obnoxious No-work, No-pay rule. Pay the teachers’ salary with TSS arrears now!

3. Immediate convocation of teachers’ congress in the state where teachers will be able to determine whether they agree with the government’s promise or not.

4. Immediate kick-starting of mass action and campaign to force governments to pay N52,2200 minimum wage by NLC, TUC and other unions.

5. Immediate convocation of the state Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), by the NUT and NLC in the state to mobilize the forces of civil society and workers to defend the democratic, economic and social rights of workers and the oppressed.

6. Nationalization of the commanding height of the economy under the democratic control of the working and poor people themselves, in order to avoid plundering going on presently in the country.

7. Formation of a fighting mass socialist-oriented workers’ party that will champion workers’ and poor people’s aspiration for a government committed to the interests of the poor people.

Kola Ibrahim