The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), which represents lecturers, announced on Wednesday that until the government addresses the problems brought on by the removal of the subsidy, which the union claims has put its members through untold hardship, its members would only visit their respective campuses twice a week.
According to a press release from the COEASU national president, Dr Sam Olugbeko, members could no longer make ends meet on the present minimum salary, thus the union has ordered them to work only twice a week.
COEASU statement reads, “The National leadership of our great Union in its extraordinary meeting held on Tuesday, 18th July 2023 had agreed to direct its members to go to work two days weekly until Federal Government yields to its demand of 200 per cent increase in salary amidst the difficulty of members to get to work as a result of hike in the price of petrol.
“The implementation of the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government two months ago raised the price of a litre of petrol by 250%.
According to COEASU: ”This has worsened the inflationary rate on the cost of transportation, food, and other essential commodities and impoverished the Nigerian people. Workers, including staff of Colleges of Education, kept faith with the government and chose to endure the untold hardship thinking it would be only for a while as the government promised to roll out palliative measures including a significant increase in salaries.
”Alas! While our capabilities to sustain hope were already exhausted, the price of petrol rose further to N650 per litre. Now, the leadership of the Union has been inundated by members’ complaints that they could no longer go to work as a result of a hike in the price of petrol and the resultant high cost of transportation.”
“Against this backdrop, it has become inevitable for the Union to direct members to go to work only two days weekly while an emergency NEC meeting shall be convened to ratify this decision and decide on the specific days of the week members are to go to work.
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“The present salary of staff of Colleges of Education was approved in the year 2010 – 13 years ago! This means we have been on the same salary since 2010 while petrol prices rose intermittently from N65/N70 in 2010 to N650 in 2023 (a tenfold increase),” COEASU added
COEASU noted that: ”Our salary structure which is subject to renegotiation at 3-year intervals has remained static for 13 years, skipping four due renegotiations.
”It is ludicrous that the government has refused to return to the negotiation table on the welfare package for staff after the Union, before the removal of the fuel subsidy, had proposed a 200% increase in salary as against the government’s offer of a ridiculous 35% for Chief Lecturers and 23% for other cadres.”
Speaking about the future, the union urged the government to look for long-term solutions right away to stop the crisis in colleges of education.
“COEASU urges the FG to act immediately because the Union’s inescapable response to this hardship will have disastrous effects on the students as it will result in a lengthened academic calendar; a semester that is currently 16 weeks long will become 32 weeks or more, and a teaching practise exercise that is currently 6 months long will become 12 months.
“We request that His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu take immediate action to resolve the issue of salary adjustments for college workers.
”We have faith in the President’s ability to handle this issue, just as he did when he served as governor of Lagos State and generously raised the pay of employees at then-Lagos State-owned colleges of education, making them the top paid in the country.”