The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have vows to continue with the strike until the federal government meets their demands.
This is certainly the longest industrial action embarked upon by the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) and their members are not even tired because of the Federal Government’s attitude towards their demands.
They are prepared to go the whole hug to ensure that the issues in contention are addressed.To show that they meant business, COEASU, last week, during a protest to draw the attention of Nigerians to their plight, accused the Federal Government of foot-dragging in meeting their demands, warning that no threat from any quarters would make it call off the strike.
Reports from union leaders indicate that various campuses, including the Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, now look like a ghost town as the three-month-old industrial action have crippled academic activities nationwide. Among COEASU’s demands, according to the branch chairman of Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Mr. Olayanju Taiwo, includes migration of the lower cadres, imposition of IPPIS, inadequate funding of teaching practice, non accreditation of NCE programmes, non-release of white paper on 2012 visitation panel reports, institution of dual mode, imposition of exploitative personal income tax, compromised out-sourced services, group life insurance, non-implementation of 65 years retirement age, harmonization of conditions of service, non-payment of peculiar/earned allowances and general funding.
Taiwo told newsmen, during its rally held on the campus, that “the only language government understands is strike. We started our strike on December 18, 2013.
However, between that time and now, nothing significant as regards our demands have been met. As long as government is not ready to listen to COEASU, we are not ready to back out of the strike. We don’t want partial response to our demands; we want all our demands met. Our members want to see concrete action; they want all issues addressed holistically because we have passed through this process before.
We are tired of promises not kept; we are not settling for part implementation. We are talking about 2010 agreement. We are not competing with our colleagues in the university but our members are ready to obey our national leadership directive on the strike. Government should appreciate our efforts. We are not just a union that bark and not bite. We will go all out to ensure all our demands are met. The threat to invoke the labour law of ‘no work, no pay’ will not stop us from continuing with the strike, nor will it make COEASU to call off the strike without our demands being met.”
Talking about the recent centenary celebration, he said: “The centenary celebration is incomplete without government addressing our demands.
Government is paying lip service to education; all is not well with the sector. Government is not respecting agreement it signed with COEASU. There is no part of the agreement that government has met. We have been deceived enough; COEASU members will remain on strike until our demands are met. We have not seen anything tangible that government has done to meet the demands of the union.”
He later told Education Review that the protest rally was a national one directed by the National Officers Council (NOC) to draw the attention of Nigerians to the plight of COEASU members so as to appeal to government to address the issues in contention and end the prolonged strike.
Quoting from a document prepared by the national body and titled: “Towards the Survival of Nigerian Teacher-Education System’’,
Taiwo said that ratio of Federal government funding for tertiary institutions has been consistently lop-sided, to the neglect of teacher education. The document noted that between 2006 and 2008, total federal allocation to the universities stood at about N108 billion, polytechnics at about N28 billion while that of colleges of education was at just N18 billion. He said the lopsidedness is further reflected in TETFUND’s intervention which is at the ratio of 2:1:1 for university, polytechnic and colleges.
Another document titled “Details of the Status of Implementation of Issues In Contention with the FG’’ presented at the Expanded National Executive (ENEC) held on December 2013 before the commencement of the ongoing strike, observed a shortfall of N 9.6 billion on capital grant from 2009-2013, urged government to release outstanding arrears on overhead cost, the outstanding N5.3 billion arrears for peculiar allowances, required N991.440 million for the payment of teaching practice involving 21 COEs, cost implication for the accreditation of NCE programmes put at N2.4billion, required N2.5 billion payment for outsourced services, arrears for life group insurance at N957,306 million, backlog of N1.021billion outstand arrears for monetization and N2.168 billion required to pay for sabbatical leave.
The students’ union president of FCE (T), Akoka, Olusola Ogunnowo, told newsmen that students are tired of staying at home and appealed to the government to meet the demands of COEASU, pointing out that a course that is supposed to be for three years is taking four years to complete.
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