It is no news that the air is fouled. As a matter of fact, the foul in the air is attributed to many agents of duskiness. I write to you because you have thankfully been discovered as one of the agents injecting the space with supernumeraries of sins; if today you will receive your miracle, do not forget to testify in your place of worship, and lex vobiscum (may the law be with you).
First and foremost, I must have you reminded that the gentle tone of this letter should not be equated to hush tones or read with bleary eyes – the reason cannot be overemphasized. Having mapped out the exact biome your contagious iniquity resides, it took the grace of God to adopt the etiquettes of a Pharaoh and the tailoring of my ink to discard insulting or bilious commentaries.
Trending today is how teachers remain unpaid, or frustratingly paid a lesser sum initially bargained or a salary legally verboten. I do not pretend to be unaware of the fact that your hands are clean as regards the latter which deals with the legally prescribed floor price any worker should be entitled to (vide Sections 1&3 of the National Minimum Wage Act which frowns at wages below N5, 500 being paid to any worker). But you would agree with me that from the doormat of your home, what reeks forth is the unrepentant delay in paying many of your staff.
Mr Director, you boast of a very big school in Abuja – particularly, Asokoro. Your school accommodates students and pupils (even Special Needs students); your school fees vary from N430, 000 to other gigantic figures per term. No, I refuse to soak down the pith of plenty that I am against how you bill these rich parents – hence; I do not belittle your standard. What is as the throbbing core is that since last year, you have regularized not the payment of staff. Last year, although you ended up paying every teacher, it had them go one or two months without a penny – this, owing to your promises, delays, and more promises. But this year, the blotches of your iniquity have mixed with treachery. Without omitting even, the wails and laments of the school cleaners of your big school have their tears littered around the earth. The reason being that you have not paid them for “who knows how many months or years.” It is to these sins I assay reasonably and with all due respect.
From gathered facts, a vast majority of teachers at both primary and secondary level got paid for six months i.e. teachers received salary for the first three months of this year, and received salary again for the ninth, tenth and eleventh month of this year. My concern is that you collect a fee so large from the men of means but consider it a big problem to pay up what you owe. It is shameful that private schools are set up every now and then with very attractive designs and appealing mottos but many prefers to use labourers like the slaves of ancient Egypt. The reward of labour is wages. Yet you now let the hardwork of all your teachers become insignificant, and make their every deserved wages come with a belabour of “abeg, abeg” – the Christians amongst them end up giving testimonies whenever their bank account is watered infinitesimally small amidst the drought. This is just disturbing.
These days, I have come to understand that villains enjoy the lamentations of the oppressed. If your refusal to pay salaries for about five months this year is one you choose to term “inadvertent”, then I wonder if you do not only think your workers, slaves; but think them as half-witted living things. The law is curious on your case and it was for abnormalities of this sort that THE LABOUR ACT went ahead to make provisions to govern this discourse.
The P.T.A meetings spearheaded by your office have brought forth sleepless nights and head-aching expectations; all to abortive ends really. Inasmuch as I do not expressly conclude that you may be senile, I feel it necessary to reproduce Section 1 of the LABOUR ACT, which provides inter alia that the wages of a worker shall on all contracts be made payable in legal tender and not otherwise. The import of this therefore is that after a teacher has fulfilled his/her end of the contract, naira should get to his/her purse. What otherwise portends is that there should be no room for promises in the place of salaries – promises are never a reasonable or plausible money worth for a teacher’s reward after a month’s labour.
I talked about the irregularities of paying your staff from last year till now. All will agree, hopefully a morsel of your conscience, that it is morally reprehensible for payment of staff to come later than bargained or agreed. The law enforces every moral concern in Section 7(1)(a)(b)(c)&(f) LABOUR ACT. Of interest is Section 7(1)(f) which has that “not later than three months after the beginning of a worker’s period of enjoyment with an employer, the employer shall give to the worker a written statement specifying the rates of wages and methods of calculation thereof and the manner and periodicity of payment of wages”. Having gone through appointment letters, it is unveiled that this proviso was duly complied with and the periodicity of wages, fixed on a monthly basis. The law again considers it an unfair bargain if after the written statement of this sort (supra) has been agreed upon, a fresh written statement is drawn up subsequently to destroy the earlier salary arrangements vide Section 7(6) LABOUR ACT. Good it is that no subsequent null and void written statements were drawn up, so go ahead and fulfil the stipulations in the contract.
Dear Director, it has become legally paramount to imprint the area of the ACT that treats this unrepentant aspect of you not paying up as at when due but preferring to be on their daily prayers and curses. Section 15 LA provides that wages shall become due and payable at the end of each period for which the contract is expressed to subsist, that is to say, daily, weekly, or at such later period as may be agreed upon: provided that, where the period is more than one month, the wages shall become due and payable at intervals not exceeding one month. Distillable from it therefore is the fact that since you agreed a monthly salary with every of your employee, it only sits well with commonsense and due diligence, that you pay all staff at the end of every month. But you have failed woefully in this regard.
Inasmuch as God will rain a deserved comeuppance on you, the law will not cross her legs on a sofa, and swallow these disturbing smudge you have under your armpit. The teachers can bear the stress of standing and teaching children for hours to make them potential saviours of the retrograding black race. But how can it be understood that they are to embark on a sojourn for five months without water or food. It never speaks well to treat your workers as refuse; teachers deserve to be paid when the salary date is due.
If there is a problem of delayed school fees, it is well within the bounds of business that a change in the salary circle be effected so as to cure losses generally. I do not write to coach you on the best policy to adopt to see that every staff (cleaners inclusive) get their wages — if that was the case, a fee would have been attached as no knowledge is cheap neither free. I write to adjure that inasmuch as God rewards men that ridicules his people, the time of the law is soothingly effective and handy. I will be watching and further reactions stemming from actions and inactions will determine to what level this afoul condition will be so taken. One word at a time, it is up to you to see it indeed makes a difference.
A LEGAL WATCHMAN,