COEASU Embarks on Indefinite Strike, Urges Government to Set up Panel of Enquiry

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Peace Obi
The College of Education Academic Staff Union of Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Epe, monday embarked on an indefinite strike to protest the management’s insensitivity to their welfare, poor infrastructure, disregard for school’s edicts and enabling laws on employment, non-remission of pension and tax deductions among others.

Speaking during a press conference organised by the Union at College’s premises, the Chairman, COEASU, MOCPED chapter, Mr. Michael Adefuye, said the strike action became the Union’s last resort given the failure on the part of the College management to attend to some burning issues the union had raised.

According to Adefuye, given the refusal of the MOCPED management led by the Provost, Professor Olu Akeusola, to dialogue with the Union, after a 21-day ultimatum, followed by a 14-day and finally the 7-day notice of indefinite strike, the Union decided to embark on the indefinite strike to draw the attention of of the state government and general public to the burning issues in MOCPED.

According him, “following the ultimatum and the notice of indefinite strike action served on the management dated April 11, 2016, the Chapter Executive Council (CEC) convened an emergency on April 14, 2016 and discussed the inevitability of the industrial dispute.”

Speaking further, the chairman said that despite the bailout given by the state government to the College to enable it offset the backlog of unremitted pension and tax deductions, the issue was still lingering.

Listing some of the Union’s demand, Adefuye said: “Over 43 months of unremitted pension to the PFA after the state government increased the subvention in 2013 and provided financial bailout to enable the management of the College fulfil her financial responsibilities among which is the remittance of tax and pension benefits to the appropriate government agencies. The bailout was not properly disbursed to meet the purpose.”

Enumerating further, he said, “Appointment into position of authorities with due regard to the college edicts and enabling laws; Inadequate office spaces and furniture for lecturers; non-release of imprest to the Deans and HOD offices thereby making them incapacitated, Collapse of MOCPED degree programme, general lack of transparency in the financial administration of the college, among other, he said.

Calling on the state government intervention, Adefuye said, “We urge the visitor to the College, His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to set up a panel of inquiry to look at the issues raised and will likely discover other burning issues on the management of MOCPED.”

Reacting to the strike action embarked by the Union, a top management personnel who though spoke on behalf of the Provost denied management’s knowledge of any warning letter or ultimatum by the union. According to him, “To the best of my knowledge we did not receive any ultimatum. Although around January, the union wrote, seeking an audience with him which he obliged.

“So the Provost, the top management staff met with the three unions under the platform of Joint Action Committee. Several issues were discussed, particularly on the area of pension and tax. It is true we have not been able to remit the PFAs as at when due on monthly basis because the subvention given to the College by the state government is not sufficient for its salary bill.

Speaking further, he said,”Currently we receive 76.4 million and our wage bill on monthly basis is N94.3m. So what we manage to pay is to ensure that we pay all other payments such as the union dues, corporative and others. And that of the 43 months as alleged by the union that the college only has 32 months pension arrears to remit. “The money is not sufficient enough to the PFAs and they are all aware. The wage bill for the march was N105.8m because they were entitled to their promotion and increment and it was not done on time, leading to arrears of about six months.

For the PFA, they are all aware we have been on it for a very long time with the government.
Noting that though the State House of Assembly’s consideration of the school’s plight to increase the school’s subvention by N11m and to be paid on monthly basis, the College was yet to get the money paid it.

Reacting the to collapse of the College’s degree programme, he said that after a careful study by the College management and the state it was realised that the school was only working for the Ekiti State University, as it bears virtually all the operating cost and therefore decided to collapse the programme.

Attributing the strike action by the Union to the state government’s plan to convert the College to university said that many of them do not have the requisite qualification to fit into the new system if implemented. Stating that out of 190 academic staff only 17 of them are Ph.D holders.