August makes it four months, we, the private school teachers, have gone without salaries. Some high brow schools in Lagos State have fully embraced the online school phenomenon. While poor schools who tried to implement it fell by the wayside, either due to lack of patronage or the financial and technical implications involved.
When fees were not paid, how do proprietors of schools pay their workers?
A private school proprietor opined that as long as parents did not pay their children school fees during the pandemic, which is over 90 percent of school income, it means the school did not generate revenue, meaning that it is impossible to pay the backlog of 4 to 5 months salaries.
Osita is a teacher at a high brow private school here in Lagos state and is sharing the same fate with other teachers. He is one of the feisty types. He is hot-tempered and has this no-nonsense streak which earned him the nickname,” the lion.”
After the proprietor’s remark circulated around members of staff, ‘the lion’ merely smiled mischievously and retorted, “I am not bothered about what our proprietor is ranting about, COVID-19 or not, he must pay my backlog. I will sue the school because I have all the appropriate documentation before taking up the job. As a bonafide member of staff of this institution, I will file a lawsuit, claim damages, and earn more due to a deliberate attempt to avoid paying the owed salaries. I will also sue for grave psychological harm caused by the unpaid amount.”
What is the Federal Government saying?
The Federal Government has been blamed for not coming to the rescue of private schools. A responsible government will not fold it’s arms and watch a sensitive aspect of the economy go into bankruptcy.
The National Association of Private School Teachers (NAPST) has urged the Nigerian government to provide its members interest-free loans repayable gradually from when schools resume.
The association said this is to cushion the effect ofCOVID-19 on private school teachers in the country.
NAPST, which is the umbrella body and voice of private school teachers in the country, said many of its members have turned to beggars for not being paid since the closure of schools over four months ago.
The Federal Government of Nigeria in response through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that households and SMEs can apply for a relief loan via the N50 billion COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility. The Central as assured Nigerians that they would not be required to provide guarantors before accessing the credit facility.
This begs the following questions:
Can teachers actually sue private school employers for not paying salaries during the pandemic?
Are private school employers justified not to pay the pandemic salary backlog?
What is the solution to the issue of unpaid salaries due to pandemic?
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