ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Government has assured the academic and non-teaching staff of primary schools in the state that plans are underway to ensure their monthly salaries are promptly paid.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the assurance while responding to issues raised by the state council of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of primary schools during a meeting at his office in Government House, Yenagoa.
A statement on Thursday by his media aide, Doubara Atasi, quoted the deputy governor as making it clear that although the state government was not responsible for the challenges facing primary schools, it would engage the local governments to address the issue of delayed payment of monthly salaries.
He pointed out that the present administration placed high premium on workers’ welfare, and therefore, would take steps to ensure primary school staff receive salaries at the same time with their state counterparts.
He appealed to the leadership of NASU to be a little bit patient with government and urged them to jettison the idea of embarking on a strike over the issue.
He faulted the ultimatum issued to the state government by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) branch of NASU, noting that it was not the responsibility of a branch of any union to issue such.
According to Ewhrudjakpo, true practice of industrial relations requires that an ultimatum can be given only when collective bargaining has failed.
He said in the instant case, collective bargaining had not broken down, stressing that even where it failed, “the rules of engagement require the state leadership of the union to give 21 days’ notice, followed by 14 days, and finally seven days’ notice before a warning strike”.
He cautioned NASU to be properly guided and not take the labour-friendly disposition of the Senator Douye Diri-led prosperity administration for granted.
Speaking further, he said government had concluded the exercise on proper placement of their grade levels and steps, adding that the memo had already been submitted to the Governor for approval and commencement of implementation.
In their separate submissions, the state Chairman of NASU, Comrade Otame Alfred, and its SUBEB branch Chairman, Comrade Sowei Apprebo, said the union was compelled to write to the government to complain about the reversal of their promotions shortly after implementation in April this year.
The union leaders, who expressed satisfaction with Ewhrudjakpo’s handling of the issues, however, pleaded with government to ensure seamless implementation of their members’ promotion benefits in the interest of industrial harmony.