By Faith Igbudu
Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Benue State chapter, recently joined their counterparts across the nation in a protest walk to appeal to the federal government to include members of the union in new teachers welfare packages.
Recall that on 5 October, 2021, during the annual World Teacher’s Day, the federal government made a policy statement that the retirement age for teachers will now be 65 while service years will now be 40 which excluded non-teaching staff.
The appeal was made during a protest walk by members of the union who stormed the Benue People’s House, Makurdi to request that the union be included in the new teacher’s welfare policy.
State Secretary of the union, Jeremiah Jato who spoke on behalf of members, said the protest was a nationwide one to convey the union’s displeasure over some policies of the federal government. “We are here to register our dissatisfaction of the policies of the federal government. We are not against it but we are saying that our members should also be included in these policies,” he explained.
The union appeals were that; the federal and state government should put an end to all discriminatory industrial relation practices against the non teaching staff in the primary and post primary school system; the federal and state governments should motivate all workers in education irrespective of their profession or job description and; the government should put in place training programmes, and also make available loan facilities to non academic staff.
Receiving the protesters, Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, who stood in for Governor Samuel Ortom, assured the protesters that the state government will always work towards the well-being of the union.
He said, the non academic staff and the teaching staff are like Siamese twins and as such, both parties should be allowed to benefit from any policy initiated. “Non-Academic staff and teaching staff are inseparable, so the solidarity should be maintained. Any policy which will discriminate against any group or union in the educational sector will not be acceptable,” he said.
He called on the grieving NASU to continue to be law abiding and orderly, saying the policy is yet to be communicated to the state government and no action can be carried out from their end but that their concerns will be communicated appropriately to the right quarters.
Members of the union, during the protest displayed various placards that read: “NASU rejects discriminatory policy,” “non teaching staff are vital components in the education of a child” and “NASU members deserve better incentives,” among others.