Yesterday, 18/01/2018, the State Wing Executive Council (SWEC) of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) called off the strike action it embarked upon against the State Government since 08/01/2018.
In paragraph 3 of the Press Release dated 18/01/2018, NUT gave reasons for calling off the strike as follows:
“The State Wing of the NUT, Kaduna State met today 18th January, 2018 to review the situation in the light of the pronouncement of the Kaduna State Government which was broadcast on the State media outfit the KSMC. The broadcast which is to the effect that the State Government after a meeting with the Interim Chairman and Education Secretaries of the 23 Local Governments has decided to give the twenty one thousand, seven hundred and eighty teachers who did not pass the recent competency test another opportunity for consideration under the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) program of continuous recruitment that will give every willing teacher a chance to apply.”
In paragraph 27 of my write-up of 14/01/2018 entitled: “NUT vs. GOVERNOR NASIR EL RUFAI FACE-OFF: ISSUES ARISING AND THE FATE OF THE STUDENTS”, I asked the following question:
“…What will NUT achieve with this industrial action?
Over the years, I have lost full confidence and hope in strike actions embarked upon by Labour Unions. This is because strike actions have not yielded the needed and desired results. If one takes stock and juxtaposes the efforts put in by the Labour Unions to embark on strike actions on the one hand, and the outcomes of such strike actions on the other, one will see that the efforts far outweigh the outcomes.
Most often, industrial actions are needless and unnecessary. By calling off the strike in the manner in which it did and for the reason it gave, NUT has just proven my position right.
The only reason NUT gave for calling off the industrial action was that the State Government had announced through its own media outfit, the KSMC, that after a meeting with the Interim Chairmen and the Education Secretaries of the 23 LGAs, the State Government had agreed to give the 21,780 sacked teachers the opportunity to reapply so that they could be considered for re-employment. This presupposes that the reason for calling off the strike action was predicated on the announcement, but not on negotiation.
This reason is laughable, to say the least. From the outset when it was announced that these teachers would be sacked for failing the competency test conducted, the State Government had unequivocally and consistently made it clear that those teachers that failed the test could re-apply, if they so desired, so that they could be also considered for employment among the 25,000 new teachers to be recruited.
Therefore, the State Government has, without any doubt, always left that window open to the affected teachers from the beginning; and NUT was fully aware of this. Why NUT now sees this as the only reason to call off the strike is what baffles any discerning mind. Why did NUT embark on this strike action in the first place when it knew it would later concede to the position of the State Government?
More disturbing is the fact that NUT was not even a party to the meeting held between the State Government and the Interim Chairmen and the Education Secretaries of the 23 LGAs. It merely relied on the announcement aired via KSMC. Assuming the State Government rescinds on this promise, what can NUT do next? What ace does it have against the State Government? Embark on another needless and impotent strike action?
It would have been more honourable for NUT to call off this strike after it has held a dialogue or negotiation meeting with the State Government. This is important because it is at that meeting that NUT can favourably bargain for and on behalf of the affected teachers. I say this because the fate of these teachers is still hanging in the balance of uncertainty.
For instance, what will be their employment status after being re-employed by the State Government? Will they be given fresh appointments altogether? Will their new appointments be an extension of the old ones? Will they be given pensionable appointments again? Will the State Government review the standard pass mark of 75% which has been the most contentious issue in the whole imbroglio? What are the minimum requirements that the affected teachers must possess before being considered for re-employment? What are the new criteria set for the affected teachers to be used for their reconsideration? All these and many more questions would have been resolved at that meeting.
By the 3rd of February, 2018, the appointments of these teachers will be automatically terminated and they will cease to be workers in the public service of the State Government. The implication is that they will also cease to be members of NUT. On what platform or pedestal will NUT then stand to represent them or ensure that the State Government keeps its promise?
If, in the alternative, NUT had announced that it was calling off the strike for the sake of the students who have been the victims and are at the receiving end of this whole drama, it would have been more honourable on its part and widely appreciated by the public.
Like most strike actions in Nigeria, NUT was ill-equipped and unserious about this one. It should not have started what it knew it could not finish. With this kind of thing, how can NUT be taken seriously by the general public when next it blows its trumpet calling out for strike action?
NUT cannot blow hot and cold at the same time. It should have stayed away from the kitchen if it knew it was not ready for the heat. Some fights are better left unfought. The entire strike action was wishy-washy and namby-pamby.
The strike action was doomed to fail from the outset. And, it has failed.