Colleges of Education lecturers give 21-day strike notice to FG

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh

The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government to meet its demands or face strike action.

COEASU gave the ultimatum in a statement released on Wednesday by the National Vice President and Southwest Zonal Coordinator of COEASU, Olusegun Lana.

The union said an agreement it had with the government in 2010 was not renegotiated as promised. The lecturers also said the Federal Government has not been fair to colleges of education and had neglected issues affecting the union and the colleges despite many pleas.

According to the statement, COEASU’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decided on the ultimatum after a referendum conducted across chapters of the union.

The statement read, “While the long-anticipated renegotiation of COEASU-FGN 2010 Agreement holds enormous promise for mutual resolution of several challenges bedevilling the COE system, the FG has failed to accord the exercise deserved priority. Ridiculously, the FG has refused to constitute her renegotiation team after acknowledging receipt of our Union’s team list on her request for over two months now.

“Government has refused to accede to our demand for the fulfilment of her own pledge of N15b revitalization fund. Apart from being a far cry from N478b being the outcome of the 2014 Presidential Needs Assessment across public COEs, the delay in its release has made nonsense of the value due to inflation.

” More ludicrously, media reports quoted the Honourable Minister for Education as having said, on various public occasions, that the palliative fund had been released by the FG, whereas what we received was a call to propose modalities for the disbursement. The frustrating wait for the disbursement of this fund has continued ever thereafter.

“Poor funding of Colleges of Education and poor conditions across state-owned COEs. Despite our agitations and the government’s persistent promise of redress, both Federal and State COEs remain poorly funded.

“Reign of impunity, statutory breach and administrative aberration persists; our members, especially in state COEs, continue to suffer untold hardships through non-payment of salary and salary arrears, refusal to implement the statutory salary structure in full, extraneous promotion criteria, idiosyncratic policies, non/improper domestication of 65-year retirement age for workers in the COE system; multiple promotions without financial effects, repression of union activities, to mention just a few.

“Many Colleges find it difficult to run smoothly due to non-release of running cost by Government. Many State Governments have abdicated their responsibility as proprietors to TETFund, as the only projects you see in the Colleges are TETFund projects.

“The Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) is causing more havoc to tertiary institutions than good. Up till the end of March 2022, one thousand two hundred and nineteen (1,219) lecturers in COEs are experiencing one problem or the other with IPPIS.

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“COEASU has demanded the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), an alternative innovation of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). UTAS has been found superior to IPPIS as it has the capacity to address our payroll security concerns and the peculiarities of tertiary institutions. It is therefore ludicrous that FG has remained adamant about retaining IPPIS despite its injurious effects.

“After extensive deliberations on the outcome of the referendum conducted across Chapters of the Union, NEC resolved to issue Government a 21-day ultimatum immediately. NEC further resolved that in the unexpected event that government fails to do the needful within the period of the ultimatum, the union shall declare appropriate industrial action.”

The warning by lecturers in colleges of education across the country is coming after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) extended its warning strike and days after the Academic Staff of Polytechnic (ASUP) embarked on a warning strike over demands not met by the government.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Tuesday said that the Federal Government would pay ASUU, ASUP and COEASU N34 billion as part of measures to appease the aggrieved lecturers.

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