BENUE: STRIKING LECTURERS HOLD EDUCATIONAL SECTOR HOSTAGE

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

BENUE: STRIKING LECTURERS HOLD EDUCATIONAL SECTOR HOSTAGE

Even as the Benue State Government is yet to start paying the 18% minimum wage agreed upon after series of industrial actions and protests which rocked the state recently, the state is embroiled in another battle one which is threatening the soul of the state’s educational sector.

For over two months Academic staff of all state owned tertiary in Benue state have embarked on an industrial action.

The striking lecturers under the auspices of Academic Staff Unions of Tertiary Institutions in Benue State (ASUTIBS), are aggrieved over the refusal the state government to implement the special salary scale for state owned institution, the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Salary (CONPCASS), which they are also demanding should take effect from July 2009.

ASUTIBS, is also demanding for the refund of their contribution to the National Housing Fund (NHF). According to the striking union, deductions from the NHF, had ceased with effect from 1st August, 2009, with the government promising to refund all the deductions at the same time but unfortunately the has been taking the issue with kids gloves as they have been looking for reasons to why the refunds should not be made. A situation which has persisted since 2006.

Also among the oldest of these demands is the lecturers demand for a reduction in their tax commitment. Even though the government had agreed to this since 2009, assuring the union that a statement in this regard will be issued but unfortunately, this has never been. As a matter of fact, findings have discovered that in the past two months government has shifted its grounds and have now taken a stance that tends to break down every structure aimed at bringing respite to the union members on this matter.

They are also demanding the payment of scarce skill allowance. This payment it has been revealed that the state government had on the 1st of August, 2011, agreed to pay this allowance, with a circular even issued to the effect but till date nothing has been done to effect this payment.

In lieu of the government’s failure and lack of commitment to meeting these demands the union has embarked on a series of strike actions the last of which is even threatening to cause the cancellation of a whole session by these institutions owing to the duration of the strike.

When contacted, the Chairman of the Union, Comrade, Ukeh T.V. corroborated the story, lamenting the government’s lack of interest in their plight. According him, the government has been cooking on story or another to frustrate negotiations.
But the Benue State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Elizabeth Ugo however declined to respond to the matter, as she insisted on only speaking during a press address organized by her ministry.

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