Secondary school principals and teachers under government employment across Bayelsa State have protested unexplained monthly salary deductions running into millions of naira.
The principals and teachers claimed that their March, 2019, salaries did not reflect the figures they were entitled to, as a result of arbitrary adjustment of their grade levels by the Bayelsa State Post Primary Schools Board (PPSB).
A section of principals and teachers that spoke to the Nigerian Tribune said the discrepancies and cuts in their pay for the month of March, 2019, translated to about N70, 000 or more.
This development had led to an emergency meeting of All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary School (ANCOPSS) and Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), Bayelsa State chapter, where they called on schools to reject the payment voucher if they were not paid their full salaries.
It was learnt that when the salary cut was not reversed, ANCOPPS and ASUSS led a peaceful protest to the PPSB office to demand explanations from the Board Chairman, Mrs. Blessing Ikuru, the reason for the deductions, but got no response as she was not in the office at the time.
According to a teacher, Mr. SaiyaIyinimi, the discrepancies that affected the basic salary of mostly senior teachers had brought hardship upon him and his household.
Explaining further, he said, “the entire exercise is a mere duplication of functions because the office of the Head of Service in the State is already conducting a certificate verification exercise where workers would be placed according to their grade levels and steps.
“That exercise has not been concluded but the Board has gone ahead without the notice of the Head of Service to adjust our grade levels and steps”, he said.
“I wonder the basis with which she arrived at that decision. This act of the Board has brought hardship not only to me and my family but other teachers and their families. And with the way things are going, we don’t even know what we are taking home anymore.”
The immediate past Chairman of ASUSS, OyiemiEbredeni, who is unhappy that 20 per cent of his salary has been slashed said, the PPSB is insensitive to the plight of teachers.
He said, “our salaries for March have been reduced seriously and the deductions started since 2012 when this present government came into office.
“Since then, it has been one teachers verification exercise after the other. And recall that in 2016, the government complained that it could not implement promotion of worker due to economic melt-down, but now that the economy is better, they are yet to implement promotion.”
“Compare what dollar was to naira in 2012 and what it is today, you will discover that our salaries can no longer sustain our homes.
“We as stakeholders, we have tried to interface with government to see reasons when it comes our welfare but they have refused to understand. And with all these problems, they have gone ahead to cut down our salaries for no just course. Is that fair?,” he queried.
In a bid to ensure a harmonious relationship with their employers, ASUSS had set up a committee to interface with authorities of the PPSB to look into issues concerning their wages.
The protem secretary of that committee, Mr. Simeon Ibietan, said, “we have virtually interfaced and met with the Board chairman, and she gave us her words that what she was about to do was going to be transparent.
“We gave her time to work, she gave us documents and we also did follow up on the matter, but to our chagrin, when the salary voucher for Yenagoa was released, we saw that a teacher on grade level 13 is being paid N90, 000 and we wondered where she got that salary structure from.
“For example, in August last year, they attempted to do what they are trying to do now and many teachers then lost huge sums of money. They said they were going to correct it and pay back the monies to the teachers that were affected but till day we have not received that money back.”
When contacted via telephone on Monday, the PPSB chairman, Mrs. Ikuru, said, “I cannot talk to you because I am having my Easter holiday” and she subsequently ended the call.