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Bayelsa LGAs offset April salary to avert teachers’ strike

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Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Primary school teachers in Bayelsa State have dropped their warning strike to protest against their unpaid backlogs of salaries for 2016.

It was learnt that the local governments in the state had paid the April salaries of the teachers to avert a three-day warning strike threatened by the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Bayelsa State wing.

The teachers had threatened to embark on a warning strike last Friday to demand payment of outstanding salaries of between four and seven months across the eight LGAs in the state.

The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Local Government Administration, Dr Agatha Goma, said in an interview on Sunday that the ministry intervened and engaged the teachers in exhaustive discussions to avoid the strike.

Goma, who applauded the primary school teachers for their patience, assured them that the state government was committed to implementing all agreement reached with the NUT.

She explained that paucity of fund due to dwindling revenue occasioned by economic downturn last year was responsible for the inability of local governments to meet salary obligations to their staff, including the teachers.

She explained that the local government share of the Paris Club refunds was deployed in the payment of salaries of primary school teachers.

Goma said as part of government’s demonstration of good faith, full salaries were now being paid as against half salaries paid in 2016 even though there had been no significant improvement in the income of the councils.

The Commissioner said the state government would continue to work with the local governments with a view to finding permanent solution to the lingering financial crisis in the councils.

Goma said the state government was aware of the critical roles of teachers in the ongoing education revolution in the state and as such would not toy with their welfare.

She stated, ”Teachers’ welfare is pivotal to Governor Seriake Dickson’s revolution in the education sector. There is no deliberate effort to undermine teachers’ welfare.

“The issues of half salary in 2016, delay in payment arose because of the recession. But the teachers should be assured that government is concerned about their welfare and everything is being done to find a permanent solution to this challenge.”

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