The allegation of deduction from the November salaries of primary school teachers in Yobe State is false and misleading, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Yerima Lawan Mahmud has said.
He spoke on Wednesday at a joint news briefing with the Auditor-General of Local Government, Yahaya Wakil Idris.
Mahmud, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Baba Ali, said what took place was an adjustment in an earlier error of the salary anomalies in the Teacher Salary Structure (TSS).
He noted that the administration of Governor Mai Mala Buni had promised to make teaching attractive.
According to him, the development was to clean up the mess in the system and effect adequate remuneration of professional teachers to enjoy the exclusive 27.5 per cent hazard and professional allowances approved by 19 northern governors for teachers in 2009.
Mahmud said non-teaching workers in primary schools were enjoying the allowances of teaching staff, but with the current adjustment, some of them felt that they were being shortchanged.
He cited a similar exercise at the state primary health where non-medical workers were as well enjoying the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) until the correction was done.
The commissioner regretted that despite their fruitful discussion with the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), they left the meeting and issued a warning strike to the government, to their disappointment.
He said: “The warning of that strike is baseless because of the kind of discussion we had together with the leadership of the NUT on this matter. It is uncalled for to hear from the NUT that they will be embarking on a strike. It sounded so disappointing to us.”
Idris, giving details of the development, said the adjustment affected the 27.5 per cent increment on teachers’ salary earlier approved by the governors of the 19 northern states in 2009.
“The minimum qualification for a professional teacher is either Grade II certificate or NCE, which means their grade level in the civil service should start from GL05_16.
“So we only made the deductions on LGEA staff from level 01_04, who under normal circumstances are not supposed to be teachers or enjoy the said allowances on the teachers payroll.
“However, because of the complaints arising as a result, we discussed extensively with the leadership of NUT. We gave them a list of the affected teachers and agreed that any qualified teacher, who was erroneously affected, would be considered and reimbursed.
“By this exercise, we found out that some qualified teachers were underpaid. Someone that was supposed to be placed on Grade Level_7 salary, was receiving GL_04. So the correct status should be established, hence they will receive their actual entitlements,” the auditor-general said.
But the NUT Secretary, Comrade Ali Fannami, said the union had reached a temporary agreement with the ministry to suspend the warning strike.
“I want to formally tell you that we have withdrawn the earlier ultimatum to go on strike because the government has promised to pay back the money deducted from our members’ salary within one week.
“The state has also promised to tackle other things raised in our earlier communication. But failure to do so in the stipulated time, we will reconvene to go on strike,” he said.
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