Reasons For The Ongoing Strike Of Tertiary Institutions In Niger State... - FAITH ADAMA'S BLOG

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Monday, 17 July 2017

Reasons For The Ongoing Strike Of Tertiary Institutions In Niger State...

PRESS RELEASE ISSUED AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ORGANIZED BY THE COMMITTEE OF UNIONS IN NIGER STATE OWNED TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS (CUNOTI), HELD AT LABOUR HOUSE, IBB ROAD MINNA ON MONDAY; 17th July, 2017
PROTOCOL:
The NLC Chairman, Niger State Council,
The TUC Chairman, Niger State Council,
Leaders of Individual Unions in Niger State Tertiary Institutions,
Other Labour leaders here present,
CUNOTI Executives,
Members of the various Security Outfits,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning and welcome to this all important press briefing. This conference is called in other to properly inform the general public on the reasons for which the Unions in Niger State Owned Tertiary Institutions (CUNOTI) are on an Indefinite Strike action.

As you may be aware, in the tertiary sector especially the academic cadre, conditions for promotion are stringent. Typically, it entails publishing quality research papers in highly reputable journals and presenting papers at conferences. Despite the high cost of satisfying these conditions, the Tertiary workers in Niger State are in possession of unimplemented promotions dated between one (1) to six (6) years ago. This is unacceptable.

The situation where the Government is deliberately humiliating Veterans by its continual refusal to address once and for all the problems bedeviling the implementation of the new pension scheme is not acceptable.



Poor remunerations and welfare, had led to massive brain-drain in Tertiary Institutions owned by Niger State Government as workers frequently cross-carpet to institutions with better pay package. This massive exit usually leaves a large professional vacuum that needs to be filled immediately in other not to lose accreditation and reaccreditation of academic programmes. Despite this, the Niger State Government went ahead to place an embargo on employment in its Tertiary Institutions. As a result, the few staff available are overstretched.

Despite this excess workload, the learning is done in an unconducive environment as the State Government had not demonstrated any passion to address the decaying infrastructures in the Tertiary Institutions.

Gentlemen of the press, permit me to take you down memory lane to 2009 when the Federal Government granted approval for the implementation of Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Salary Structure (CONPCASS) and Consolidated Tertiary Educational Institutions Salary Structure (CONTEDDISS) for Nigerian Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and Monotechnics. The CONPCASS/CONTEDDISS table, was arrived at by increasing the existing Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure (CONTISS) by 53.37%.

By 2010, almost all Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and Monotechnics in the country including state-owned had keyed-in and commenced full payment of CONPCASS/CONTEDDISS except a few, which unfortunately Niger State Government is one. CUNOTI had since made available to Niger State Government all relevant documents conveying the approvals for the full implementation of CONPCASS/CONTEDDISS by other State Governments.
Despite series of collective and separate correspondences and meetings with the Head of Service and the Commissioner for Education by the Tertiary Institutions, it took Industrial Action before the Government in 2013, decided to negotiate with the Tertiary Institutions after four (4) painful years of underpayment.

Instead of borrowing leaf from other State Governments, the Joint Technical Negotiation Committee set up by Niger State on 4th June, 2013 concocted two additional scenarios of 45.37% and 35% as options to the main 53.37% increase on CONTISS. Instead of adopting the two alien scenarios, the Government invented and approved a certain “scenario 4” of 15%.

However, the leadership of the Unions in Tertiary Institutions accepted the 15% scenario offered by the Government because the terms of the agreement entered included the commitment of the stakeholders to reopen the negotiation with the view to improving on the offered 15% when the finance of the state improves.

Unfortunately, four (4) years after this agreement, and eight (8) years after the implementation of full CONPCASS/CONTEDDISS by other States, no attempt whatsoever was made by Niger State Government to improve on the meager 15% (scenario 4) paid to workers of Niger State Tertiary Sector.

The individual Unions in Niger State Owned Tertiary institutions had on the 31st of January, 2017 separately written to the HOS and the Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology enumerating the terms of the 2013 agreement and pressing on the need for a review. As was characteristic of Niger State Government, there was neither a response from the HOS nor the Hon. Commissioner to any of the twenty seven (27) Unions!

 Five (5) months later, precisely on Monday; 12th June, 2017, the Unions wrote again, this time to declare 21-Days Ultimatum for which the Government should address the following demands (harmonized) failure of which the respective Institutions shall proceed to a 3-Days Warning Strike:

Infrastructural decay in the various Tertiary Institutions
Inadequate security in the Institutions
Full implementation of CONPCASS/CONTEDDISS
Employment of additional staff in areas with deficit
Domestication and Gazzetting of 65 years retirement age for
staff of tertiary institutions
Immediate implementation of all pending promotions
Immediate payment of accrued promotion arrears
Assent to the earlier Bill on 7.5% Contributory Pension
Scheme passed and sent to Mr Governor by Niger State House of Assembly

Sadly, because Niger State Government cared less about strike ultimatum, it waited until the 21st day, the very day the Ultimatum was to expire before calling for a talk. Yes a talk, because instead of negotiating by way of addressing the listed demands holistically,  or at the very least make an offer on some of the demands, the Representatives of the Government simply submitted that the demands were receiving attention and suggested that the proposed strike be stopped without issuing any form of documented agreement. This was how the inaction, lack of sincerity and non-challant attitude of the Government Representatives led the Unions in Niger State Owned Tertiary Institutions into a 3-day warning strike from Wednesday; 12th July, 2017 to Friday, 14th July, 2017.

Following the lack of progress in the negotiation between the Representatives of the Unions in Tertiary Institutions and Representatives of the Government, the Unions were left with no option than to declare the strike indefinite. The Government and all other stakeholders including security agencies had since been notified in accordance with the provisions of Labour Law.

Consequently, all the Tertiary Institutions Owned by the State are closed indefinitely with no exception whatsoever. For clarity, the strike action shall affect all the core-programmes been ran by the institutions, Consultancy Services, IJMB program, all affiliated programmes and Staff Schools owned by the Institutions.

CUNOTI is not unaware of the consequences of industrial action on the students but wish to stress that the successes or otherwise of students Teachers are interwoven. It is on this note that CUNOTI wish to passionately appeal for their support and understanding and that of the generality of Nigerlites and Nigerians.

On a final note, CUNOTI wish to reiterate that its windows for further negotiations are always open.
Long Live NLC!
Long Live TUC!
Long Live CUNOTI!
Long Live Niger State!
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Aluta Continua! …



Comrade Baba Haruna                     Salihu Mohammed Rijau
Chairman, CUNOTI                                   Secretary General, CUNOTI