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COEASU extends strike by three weeks

The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has extended its strike action by three weeks.

The extension, it was gathered, is a sequel to a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union which was held at Federal College of Education, Kano, Kano State on Tuesday, 19th July 2022.

National President of COEASU, Dr Smart Olugbeko, who announced the extension, hinged the action on a number of grey areas concerning their demands which are yet to be resolved.

Among the latest grievances necessitating the extension of the teachers’ strike are modalities for the disbursement of the revitalization fund which is yet to be agreed upon because the committee of stakeholders, including the Unions, which is to be saddled with that responsibility, is expected to be convened by the Federal Government within the next few weeks.

Also, it said the government’s sincerity towards meaningful collective bargaining could not be ascertained until 2nd August 2022 when the renegotiation proper would begin.

Olugbeko also hinged the extension on most state governments which are yet to address issues locally peculiar to state-owned Colleges of Education, especially in Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Abia, Kogi, Kaduna, Zamfara, Yobe, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Edo and Ebonyi states.

COEASU said the situation has further deteriorated in some of the states mentioned with enforcement of the draconian rule of “no work, no pay” and victimization of Union leaders.

He also added that the Federal Government is yet to come out clear on the Union’s preference for UTAS against the troublesome IPPIS.

While declaring a continuation of the strike, Olugbeko said, “While empathetically acknowledging the appeal of critical stakeholders expecting the strike action to be suspended, NEC painstakingly submitted that the timing must be properly calculated based on the foregoing reservations in order to consolidate on the gains of the struggle.

“Therefore, NEC unanimously resolved that the strike action should continue for the next three weeks within which the Union hopes that the foregoing reservations should have been addressed.”

The NEC meeting was attended by 57 chapters comprising delegates, former Presidents, and members of the National Officers’ Council (NOC) where they took the following resolutions.

“NEC noted with satisfaction that steady progress is being made towards the amendment of the COE Establishment Act which would subdue most of the challenges bedevilling the system.

“While condemning the inaction of Government until the festering issues snowballed into the on-going industrial action, NEC commended the impressive level of compliance of Chapters to the struggle and noted with satisfaction that the national strike action has achieved the following improvements:

“The Federal Government has inaugurated the renegotiation team for FGN-COEASU 2010 Agreement.

“The release of N15billion revitalization fund for both Federal and State Colleges of Education has been revalidated and approved by the Federal Government.

“NEC however strongly condemned the oppressive actions of the following: Provost of Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Afaha Nsit, for truncating the national warning strike action in the College, ordering the arrest and suspension of some Chapter Executive Council members; and Governments of Oyo, Benue, Plateau and Ebonyi States for the unwarranted enforcement of “no work, no pay” without prior meaningful engagement in collective bargaining despite the Union’s long predisposition to alternative dispute resolution.

“NEC charged the National Secretariat to sustain ongoing efforts to address the plights of the affected members.

“NEC also welcomed the on-going mobilization by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for a “national protest to get our children back to school” in solidarity with the struggle of Trade Unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions. While applauding the Labour Centre for this promising intervention, NEC posited that the strike action should be sustained and charged Chapters to participate in the mass protest,” COEASU added.

COEASU’s decision comes after members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, insisted on the continuation of its six months old strike despite the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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