The main agitation among civil servants in the state and federal civil service is for remuneration parity and equilibrium.
The policy which created a disparity in the salaries and remuneration of civil servants in the two levels of government is the bane of harmony and stability in the civil service of both state and federal services of Nigeria.
The agitation for equality and the disaffection which it created has continued without the authorities finding a lasting solution to the malaise over the years. This has constituted perennial social and economic injustice in our national industrial relationship. It is imperative to note that we have two kinds of labor disparity in Nigeria.
One is professional disparity which is a mild one and which has not generated passionate disagreement; this is a situation where difference in salaries and remunerations is created by the profession of one’s employment i.e. where a driver on grade level 4, for an example, gets higher pay than a clerk on the same level 4. This one has no serious challenge because the risk of the driver is higher than the risk of the clerk.
The next is employment disparity where the difference in salaries is based on the institution of employment, i.e. where people with the same skill, level of education and salary grade level are paid different salaries because of their institution of employment, where for an example, a B.Sc. holder in political science who works in a federal institution is paid more than double the salary of a B.Sc. holder in political science who is employed in a state institution.
This kind of disparity is the most painful and the one which elicits the most vociferous condemnation. This is because these persons live in the same environment, buy from the same market, pay the same house rents and other rates, etc. Despite the ills of salary disparity, the most damning disservice to a civil servant is when his salary is reviewed down ward for no known reason.
Workers’ stability depends on their ability to plan with their meager salaries because the salary does not change within 2 years or 3 years for both junior and senior civil servants respectively.
With the stability of salary, a junior civil servant could plan to own a motorcycle in the next 2 years when his salary would have promoted him to the next rank. This is based on the known practice that promotion comes within 2 years for junior workers!
However, where promotion suddenly ceases, it inevitably engenders chains of social and economic dislocation for a civil servant, that is why workers would continue to suffer in silence when they do not attain a promotion or where they are promoted but the commensurate financial addition to their salaries is denied.
We are daily inundated with the cry of a falling standard of education, but the authorities fail to take the bold steps needed to enhance the standard of education; it’s like relishing a fruit but hating its fruit.
Teachers produce all the enviable professionals we have in our society: Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors, Administrators, Politicians, etc. etc. but teaching has been reduced to mere ridicule. No child proposes to be a teacher and the number of male folks in the teaching profession has continued to depreciate in a frightening geometrical proportion. The teaching profession is no more sustainable. It is expected that in the next 20 years, the teaching profession will only be reserved for handicapped women! Still, those in authority are chasing shadows.
What does it take to put teachers’ welfare in the first line charge in the federal and state government programs? What does it take to motivate teachers and pay them the ‘Teachers Salary Scale (TSS)?’
It is disheartening that we trifle with the future of this country because the future belongs to the children and the children need teachers to equip them for tomorrow leadership. 1 wonder why no one ever tries to take the bull by the horn in this country. This nation appears most poignantly a no -man’s – land.
Steve Opoke is a social commentator and Rights Activist