The non-teaching staff members of Anambra state schools and colleges have taken to the street to demand that government extends their age of retirement from 60 years to 65 years and from 35 years in service to 40 years in service, just as it was done for the teaching staff members of schools and colleges.
The group also demanded the full implementation of the minimum wage, as well as payment of outstanding allowances and arias. Members of the association numbering hundreds, drawn from the non-teaching cadre of schools and colleges in Anambra state took their protest to Anambra state Government House in Awka, the state capital.
In an exclusive interview with the West African Pilot News correspondent on the protest, the secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Post-primary and Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board –ASUBEB, Ms. Ngozi Okafor explained that the administrative staff members deserve the same or at least similar treatment given to the teaching staff. “What is good for the teachers is good for the non-academic staff”.
According to the secretary of the union, “Teachers were given 65 years as retirement age, then 40 years in service. But non-academic staff members still have 60 years for retirement and 35 years in service, for retirement. Therefore what we are saying is that we want the government to make it to be equal. Non-academic staff union members are the same as teachers. Without non-academic staff members, there won’t be anything like teachers. The only thing the non-teaching staff does not do is to teach in class. They do all the administrative work and provide all the things needed by the teaching staff, including compiling results”, she said.
According to Ms. Okafor, there are also outstanding issues with their allowances. “Yes, there are outstanding allowances being owed, peculiarity allowance and others. Also the minimum wage has not been fully implemented”.
Comrade Mike Ileka, the Chairman of Post-primary School Service Commission-PPSSC and doubles as the Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union-NASU also spoke to us exclusively on why they are protesting and narrated the ordeal of administrative/non-teaching staff members of schools and colleges in Anambra state. “We are here to bring to the knowledge of the government that the non-tutorial staff members are part of their workers because there seems to be discrimination. The federal government has approved that teachers proceed on retirement from 65 years or 40 years in service, but this was not extended to non-tutorial staff. We are all government workers so why the distinction, is it fair? That is why we have come to tell the government to do a review of the policy and also give the non-tutorial staff an equal treatment”.
Speaking further, he averred that the non-tutorial staff performs all administrative duties as well as raises revenue for the government. “We all are part of the education system”, Ileka said.
He also hinted that they are still being owed peculiarity allowance and hazard allowance.
But for Comrade Evans Ekwunife the branch Chairman of ASUBEB/NASU, “We are protesting not against the state government but against the federal government, for the ill-treatment being given to the non-teaching staff of the academic industry in Nigeria. Last year during the World Teachers Day, the President through the Minister of Education pronounced a lot of goodies for the teachers but completely leaving out the non-teaching staff members of the Nigerian school system”.
“The discrimination has been there for long, teachers enjoy 27.5 of their basic salary as peculiarity allowance, we do not have any, yet, teachers only work for 4 hours in a day, while we work from 7am to 4pm daily and sometimes more, so we work for between 9 to 11 hours. We complement each other, though we do more work. We form the platform upon which teachers stand. We want the government to hear us and do the needful. This protest is going on nation-wide and after this protest, if the government refuses to listen, then, we will take the hard option which is to embark on an indefinite strike,” Ekwunife said.
In another development, Anambra state lawyers took to the street to protest against the rising insecurity in the state. Only a few days ago, the kidnapped Onitsha branch Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association was found dead. It will also be recalled that unknown gunmen had in the past few days raised serious alarm over the level at which they attack security formations, kill security agents, and cart away with arms of slain officers. Although Governor Obiano while addressing the development, assured that the government is doing everything to bring the situation under control, Anambra lawyers, it would appear needed more reassurance, perhaps more than mere assurance.
The protesting lawyers marched from Ekwueme Square all the way to Anambra State Government House where they were addressed by the Secretary to the state government who was accompanied by the Anambra state Commissioner for Information.
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