Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Lagos Teachers angry over Strike Suspension

Lagos Teachers angry over Strike Suspension

Call On the NUT Leaders to Take Further Actions

The shameful calling-off of the strike action by the Lagos state leadership of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) was greeted with anger from the rank and file teachers in the state. The 3-week strike was called off without securing any reasonable commitment from the state government on the implementation of the pay rise (TSS) agreement. The union executive, who did not convene any general meeting of teachers before the call-off, mandated the local government chapters to hold branch meetings just to inform the teachers of the action. While the damage had already been done to their collective interests, the meetings however provided teachers the opportunity to register their opposition to the opprobrious action of their leaders.

At one of the meetings in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government on March 17, the branch chairman, M.A. Amao, tried all he could but to no avail to convince teachers on the rationale behind the suspension of the strike. He said that the union was called by religious leaders, traditional rulers and senior citizens from Lagos State, who all prevailed on them to call off the strike so that they could call on the governor to respond to the need of the teachers. He also claimed that the government also showed them the drop in revenue due to dwindling oil price occasioned by the global economic meltdown. This the government did by taking some NUT representatives to show them the breakdown of the revenue received by the government so far. According to him, the government said, if the union insisted, it would only pay to those teachers it could afford, and retrench the remaining.

The chairman had hardly rounded off when comments came in torrent.

Those who first spoke called the union leaders betrayers who do not deserve to remain in office. One teacher even suggested that all the union representatives from the branch should be stoned. Some teachers reasoned that the state NUT leadership should have called a meeting of teachers in all branches of the union to deliberate on the strike before suspending it. They demanded that union leadership should call teachers back on strike.

As the barrage continued, a teacher called the union leaders, both at the branch and state levels stooges of state government and Action Congress, the ruling party in the state. He called all teachers present to do everything possible to remove the present crop of NUT leaders at the branch level and then begin action to remove the quisling elements at the state leadership.

Generally, those who spoke condemned the NUT leadership for calling off the strike the way they did. They believe that there was more than meet the public eye over the way and manner the union had gone about the strike action.

More than 75% of the teachers at the meeting had already left in anger before the closing prayer and the motion of adjournment.

However, the matter is not yet hopeless; the rank and file teachers should mount pressure on the state leadership of NUT to call for mass meetings of teachers to evaluate the strike and plan for resumption of action. If teachers allowed the argument of global economic meltdown to deny them better living conditions, nothing will ever be gained from the government to improve their lots in the face of increasing cost of living and inflation. Teachers as well as other workers and poor masses did not cause the crisis, it is a fundamental crisis of capitalism, and they should not pay for it.

If the proposed strike takes place, this time around teachers should refuse to be confined into their home. Rather, the strike action should include rallies, mass demonstration and mass circulation of leaflets, etc to drive home their demands. The demand should be the immediate implementation of pay rise agreement without loss of jobs by teachers. Already, Lagos State needs many more teachers than presently in its employment. Therefore, the threat of retrenchment as a condition for implementation of TSS has only further shown the lack of commitment to public education by the state government.

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)