Colleges of Education Workers Issue 21-day Strike Ultimatum to FG

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Nuhu-Ogirima

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (C O E A S U) has threatened to declare a nation-wide industrial action if nothing concrete was done by the federal government to address their grievances within 21 days.

A communiqué issued by the union after its Expanded National Executive Council (ENEC) meeting held on July 8, said that its grievances ranged from the non-implementation of Needs Assessment, check-off dues, infractions and deprivations as a result of the implementation of the Integrated Personnel and. Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the President of COEASU, Mr. Nuhu Ogirima, said the College of Education subsector has been treated with neglect and nonchalance.

Ogirima said: “The expanded National Executive Council (ENEC) at its meeting of July 8, therefore, challenged government to shut the teachers’ education industry since the quality of infrastructure, welfare and service delivery takes no preference in the scheme of governance at all levels.

“Alternatively, the ENEC wishes that you take notice hereby that should the government refuse to redress all the issues in contention within 21 days, the Union would have no other option than to declare a nation-wide industrial action.”

He said the union was compelled by circumstances to bring to the fore the prevailing rapid and awful condition of both staff and infrastructure in public colleges of education.

Ogirima said the union had in a letter written last August and titled, “Stop the Destruction Agenda or Face Industrial Action” chronicled most of the issues bedeviling the colleges of education in the country.

He said the letter was addressed to the President, and copied to both the Minister of Education and his Labour and Employment counterpart, seeking his urgent intervention to deal with the workers complaint.

Ogirima regretted that though the Federal Ministry of Education constituted a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to handle the issues in 2017, nothing substantial was achieved.

He said that as a result of inaction by government, the COEASU was constrained to embark on a brief national strike that was observed in October and November, 2018 but later suspended it after government pledged to address the issues.

Ogirima said that state governments have toed the line of the federal government in the handling of the affairs of their colleges of education with levity.

He noted that nothing came out of the assurance given by the federal government to the union in 2018 that an inter-governmental consultative committee of federal and state governments would be constituted to resolve the challenges of state colleges of education.

He also accused the Ministries of Education and Labour of employing double standards against the colleges of education in relation to other tertiary institutions.

Ogirima lamented that that federal government has not been able to pay the N15 billion it pledged as palliative out of the N486 billion required as at 2017 to cushion the effects of the non-implementation of Needs Assessment.

“Rather, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) dubiously preferred, and constituted in 2016, the now moribund inter-ministerial committee on the implementation of CONTISS 15 (Migration) for the lower cadre in COEs, instead of its express implementation as done for the other similar sub-sector.

“The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) effected deduction of COEASU check-off dues at source from the promotion arrears paid to some of our members from January to November 2018 but has continually withheld same in spite of the request for remittance to the union.

“The imposition of IPPIS on the college of education system bedeviled the payment of emoluments of staff with anomalies, infractions and deprivations. Third party-deductions are not being affected in most colleges,” he said.