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Open Letter to osun state governor on the ongoing strike in Osun state tertiary institution

Last modified about 3 years ago by . Posted in Nigeria Education Gist |

LETTER TO MR. GOVERNOR
Our Ref. CASUOSTI/15/02/16
7th October, 2018.
Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola,
The Executive Governor of Osun State,
Bola Ige House,
Osun State Government Secretariat,
Osogbo.
Dear Mr. Governor,
RE: ONGOING STRIKE ACTION IN OSUN STATE-OWNED
POLYTECHNICS AND COLLEGES OF EDUCATION
We use this medium to express our profound gratitude to
Mr. Governor for granting the leadership of our Unions
audience on the ongoing strike action on Wednesday, 30th
September, 2018. Through the meeting with Mr. Governor,
we were privileged to correct the impression given Mr.
Governor (by God-knows-whom) that our strike action had
been on for the past eighteen (1 months and that
Government functionaries had met us “several times” to no
avail. We hereby reiterate that the strike action by our
Unions (ASUP and COEASU) began on 11th June, 2018 after a
2-day weekly warning strike from January to June failed to
bring Government to the negotiation table on festering
issues. In fact, our meeting with Mr. Governor under
reference could be said to be the first formally convened
meeting between us and the State Government.
We rose from the meeting with Mr. Governor on the note
that we shall respond to Government position on the
festering issues after reporting same to our Congress. This is
in keeping with the democratic protocols of our Unions
where decision to suspend or call-off strike action is
exclusively vested in the Congress unless the position of
Government is fully in tandem with Congress demands
leading to the strike action. Therefore, having held Congress
sessions across the four chapters of our Unions, we hereby
present the collective position of our Unions to Government
accordingly.
I. WITHHOLDING OF SALARY AS PUNISHMENT FOR STRIKE
We were being owed eight ( month salaries and several
deductions before the ongoing strike started on 11th June,
2017. It is therefore most shocking that Government could
withhold our salaries as punishment for the ongoing strike
action. It is on record that even when the crisis of unpaid
salaries hit so hard that various Labour Unions in the State
embarked on strike as a result of the pains it brought, we in
tertiary institutions (Polytechnics and Colleges of Education)
continued working and endured the situation based on our
understanding that the situation was beyond the control of
the State Government. It is therefore unfair that our salaries
are withheld after the much awaited bail-out fund was
received from the Federal Government and other State
Government workers were paid three to four month
salaries.
We use this medium to advise Government to drop this
unorthodox approach to trade dispute management
because any approach other than dialogue, such as
intimidation and coercion, has never worked and will never
work in addressing legitimate industrial agitation of lawful
Trade Unions like ours. We implore Mr. Governor, being a
historic beneficiary of the Rule of Law, a sworn democrat
and staunch believer in the principles of fairness, equity and
justice to direct appropriate authorities of Government to
pay our withheld salaries without prejudice to the ongoing
industrial crisis. We are open to dialogue and collective
bargaining which must be put on course towards soon
resolution of festering issues on the table.
II. CONTRIBUTORY PENSION SCHEME
Our Unions have been vindicated by the admittance by
Government that the challenges defiling the implementation
of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) are as a result of
paucity of fund. Meanwhile, the inability of Government to
fund this scheme by not paying counterpart fund and not
cash-backing our own contributions constitute indomitable
justification of our demands that the continuation of this
scheme is tantamount to “death sentence” on workers.
We observe that Mr. Governor, having admitted our position
on the funding problem above, insisted that the CPS must
continue on the ground that “those who did not want to
participate in contributory pension had the option of retiring
in December 2012”. On this, we invite the esteemed
attention of Mr. Governor to the fact that those who exited
service in December 2012 because of the CPS had only two
or three years left to retire and they were duly served
without any short-change under the old defined benefit
scheme. All workers who chose to remain in service beyond
December 2012 chose to be under the CPS as prescribed by
Law, not as it is now being so injuriously managed. Our
position on this scheme remains as presented.
Without prejudice against the Contributory Pension Scheme
(CPS) in itself, we observe incontrovertibly that its
implementation in Osun State is in breach of relevant Laws
hence has not only defiled its superiority to the old defined
benefit scheme but is irredeemably injurious to workers. We
know that the major challenge for Government is paucity of
fund. However, the scheme is expected to be “contributory
and fully funded” else, workers are at great loss.
Mr. Governor Sir, the essential benefit of the contributory
pension scheme is that it pays the worker his retirement
benefits in principle on monthly basis and converts same to
a rising investment-on-the-go making it to work for the
worker by multiplying the benefits through the power of
compound interest. Therefore, belated remittance of
monthly pension contributions or non-remittance of it to the
worker’s Retirement Savings Account (RSA) by any employer
is tantamount to a rip-off and irredeemable loss to
subscribers, making the scheme a serious injury to workers,
many of whom, though, may not realize the full effect of the
injury until the point of retirement when they would
discover that bulk of their supposed benefits have been lost
to irregular funding of the scheme and other breaches in its
implementation.
A. Major Components of the Contributory Pension Scheme
1. Retirement Benefit Bond (RBB)
The RBB incorporates the supposed benefits of the
employee under the previous Defined Benefit Scheme (i.e.
from the date of appointment up till the time the CPS was
introduced). It applies to those employees who are still in
service and had been in service before the introduction of
CPS. The Law stipulates that Government should issue them
bond in the value of their benefits prior to commencement
of CPS. Government is also required by the Law to maintain
a Retirement Benefit Bond Redemption Fund account with
the Central Bank and remit at least 5% value of her wage bill
into that account on a monthly basis. This is the account that
will guarantee the redemption of the bond held by deserving
workers.
2. Group Life Assurance
The Group Life Assurance aspect of the CPS applies to any
employee who dies in service. It provides a compensation
for the next-of-kin of the deceased, without prejudice to the
supposed retirement benefits of the latter under the other
two components of the scheme. The Pension Reforms Act
upon which the CPS is based, stipulates that the employer
shall maintain a life insurance policy for the employee to the
tune of AT LEAST (not necessarily limited to) three times the
annual salary (total emolument; not basic) of the employee.
However,
i. Government is yet to actualize the Group Life Assurance as
mandatorily required under the CPS let alone maintain the
policy through payment of required annual premium.
ii. We have several deceased colleagues who were enrolled
in the CPS but their next-of-kin cannot file any claim for
insurance annuity.
3. Employee-Employer’s Monthly Contributions
The CPS Law stipulates that 7½% of the employee’s salary
should be deducted at source on monthly basis while the
employer (i.e. Government) should add another 7½% to
make 15% of total monthly emolument. The contributions
are to be remitted inseparably to the employee’s Retirement
Savings Account (RSA) through the respective Pension Fund
Custodians (PFC) and Pension Fund Administrators (PFA)
within 7 days after payment of salary. The Law further
provides that where the remittance of the contributions is
done later than 7 days after payment of salary, the
employer shall be liable to a fine of 2% (implying daily
compound interest) continually until the remittance is done.
For example, the last remittance made was for the month of
November, 2013 and it was made in August, 2018 (about 600
days after the limit of delay). Mr. Governor Sir, Government
cannot afford 2% penalty by compound interest (not simple
interest) on all the remittances already made and the
outstanding ones.
The Retirement Savings Account (RSA) is an investment for
the worker. The essence of monthly contribution into the
RSA is to make the worker’s money work for him as an
investment-on-the-go producing geometrically rising profit
through the power of compound interest. Therefore, belated
remittance of monthly pension contributions or non-
remittance of it to the worker’s Retirement Savings Account
(RSA) by any employer rubbishes the whole scheme and is
tantamount to a rip-off and irredeemable loss to workers.
(B) Observations and Precedence
Mr. Governor Sir, we believe Your Excellency would agree
with us that the Government of the State of Osun cannot
afford the CPS for now due to financial challenges.
Unfortunately, the injury the breaches in the
implementation of the scheme constitute to workers are
extremely unbearable and not healable.
Meanwhile, it is highly gratifying that the Pension Reform Act
is concurrent and does not impose a deadline towards
implementation. Therefore, while all employers in both the
Public and Private sectors are ultimately expected to migrate
to the CPS, each State of the Federation has opportunity to
adjust, delay and/or suspend the scheme as circumstances
may necessitate. This is obviously the reason why only seven
(7) States of the Federation have implemented the scheme
since 2004 when the Law was first enacted.
The power of States on the implementation of the CPS has
led us to witness the case in Ogun State, where the scheme
was recently REVIEWED to exempt a section of workers
earlier captured under it. This power has also led us to have
the case in Niger State, where the CPS was recently STOPPED
due to intractable problems of implementation caused by
paucity of funds. Most especially, we have State power
impliedly at work in about twenty-nine (29) States of the
federation where the implementation of the CPS is being
DELAYED!
The circumstance of the State of Osun on the
implementation of the CPS has taken a more complex
dimension with the recent repeal of the Pension Reform Act
2004 domesticated in the State of Osun in 2008. By the
provisions of the Pension Reform (Amendment) Act 2014,
the monthly contributions of employers and employees to
the CPS has increased from 7½% apiece to 10% and 8%
respectively. How can the Government of the State of Osun
that has not been able to meet up with 7½% obligations be
expected to carry the burden of 10% as and when due?
However, by virtue of the amendment of the Pension
Reform Act, the Government of the State of Osun has to
amend its domestication of the Act. This presents a great
opportunity for Government to use the due amendment to
resolve the crisis on the scheme.
(C) Prayer on Contributory Pension Scheme
Our prayers to Mr. Governor are as followsbr /> 1. That Mr. Governor should admit, as substantiated above,
that due to the financial circumstances of the State, the
implementation of CPS in the State of Osun has violated all
benevolent intentions of the Law and constitutes, as
presently subsisting, a grievous injury to workers whom it
was meant to support ab initio.
2. That in the interest of all concerned, Mr. Governor should
direct immediate suspension of the CPS and reactivation of
the old defined benefit scheme, at least for workers of the
State-owned Tertiary institutions, namely Polytechnics and
Colleges of Education. It is noteworthy that members of the
Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital (LAUTECH) are
not under the scheme. It is also remarkable that even the
Federal Government at a point excluded some agencies
initially captured under the CPS from the scheme (e.g.
Nigerian Army, Judges, Directorate of State Security, etc.). In
this event, our Council is ready to forbear with the State
Government on the refund of outstanding deductions.
3. That Mr. Governor should further consider, in view of the
financial circumstances of the State Government, a total
exclusion of all workers presently enrolled under the CPS,
while the scheme should be made applicable to only new
employees of the State henceforth. In this event, the State
Government would be relieved as followsbr /> a. Government would no more be obliged to ALL workers
every month as it were under the CPS;
b. The State Government would escape from the whole
liabilities of retirement benefit bond which runs into tens of
billions in naira;
c. Counterpart funding of monthly contribution (10% of
salaries) would be realistic and convenient because workers
under the scheme would be very few and of lower cadres;
and
d. All industrial disputes arising from the shoddy
implementation of CPS in the State of Osun would be laid to
rest once-and-for-all.
III. REVERSAL OF FINANCIAL EFFECT OF 2014 PROMOTIONS
AND MIGRATION POLICY
Mr. Governor Sir, based on our understanding of the
financial constraints of the State Government, we have
patriotically and loyally endured much sacrifices as good
partners with Government. Our endurance is evident in the
partial implementation of our statutory salary structure,
toleration of notional effect of career advancement and
forbearance with a tax rate that makes us pay the highest
tax nationwide (even while earning the least pay). In view of
this, we cannot afford a forfeiture of the meagre financial
effects of earned promotion and migration of lower cadres
as substantiated below.
Staff promotion in tertiary institutions is earned on stringent
conditions of career advancement and not ‘automatic
routine’ nor on the basis of mere benevolent sentiments. It
is due inadvertently for each staff purely on merit at
regulated intervals and upon strict evaluation of personnel
performance in terms of fulfillment of stipulated criteria of
assessment. The practice of “earned promotion” or, better
put, “merit-based career advancement”, is universal in
academics and mandatory for accreditation processes. Apart
from these general factors, the 2014 promotion under
discussion is situated within the following context.

A the promotions have taken notional effects as it were with
effect from 1st October, 2014;
b. that our Unions tolerate later financial effect (1st January,
2017) of the promotion is borne out of patriotic sensitivity to
the financial circumstances of Government; a breach of the
financial effect is therefore the least expected reciprocation
from Government;
c. going by the notional effect of the promotion, all affected
staff members have taken further steps in institutional
hierarchy with attendant additional workload and co-
curricular responsibilities; is it fair to so abruptly deny them
the meagre financial effect of the earned promotion? and
d. in preparation for the promotion and with a view to
meeting the requirements, concerned members of staff
have expended intellectual and financial resources on
publications, travel for academic conferences (both local
and abroad) and pursuit of higher degrees at personal cost;
therefore, denial of the financial effect of the promotion as
agreed and fixed (with effect from 1st January, 2018) is not
only unfair but tantamount to demoralization and
discouragement towards academic improvement which is a
sine qua non for sustaining and improving the standards of
our institutions.
On the other hand, the policy of “migration of lower cadres”
cannot be reversed because it is an equalization policy
following “migration of higher cadres (i.e. CONTISS 15)”
which had been implemented in Osun State under the
previous administration. Implementation of the “migration
of lower cadres” had been due since the year 2009 but
agreed upon by Government and our Union to take notional
effect from 1st August, 2014 and financial effect (without
arrears) as from January, 2018.
Mr. Governor Sir, the financial effects of these policies which
have already been implemented are not only meagre (about
10% rise in total bill) but unnegotiable due to the peculiar
connection between staff ranking progression and
accreditation of tertiary institution. We pray that Your
Excellency would use your good offices to ensure justice and
fairness to us by restoring the financial effects of these
policies based on the duly signed Government-CASUOSTI
Agreement because, “we cannot terminate a pregnancy after
delivery”.
III. DELAY IN THE RELEASE OF DEDUCTIONS FROM SALARIES
AND RESULTANT HARDSHIPS (E.G. PENAL INTERESTS ON
BANK LOANS)
Government has continually withheld deductions made from
our salaries on account of bank loans, cooperative society
dues, Union check-offs and so on. Mr. Governor Sir, this
trend, apart from being illegal, has been having harsh and
unbearable effects on us and the integrity of individual
members of our Great Unions. Specifically, it has led to
penal interests on bank loans taken by our members and
incapacitated various credit associations (i.e. Cooperative
Societies) within our system from discharging their
obligations to subscribers. Our demand on this is that ALL
withheld deductions be released immediately and they
should be paid simultaneously with net salaries henceforth.
We gladly welcome Mr. Governor’s promise that net salaries
and deductions will be paid together from now on. However,
penal interests accruing on bank and Cooperative loans are
still piling up against our members by the withholding of our
salaries.
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IV. NON-IMPLEMENTATION OF COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT ON
STAFFING
During the negotiations that culminated in a recent collective
agreement, we were able to convince Government that there
was a state of emergency in the personnel status of our
institutions. Unfortunately, the situation has only become
worse due to the non-actualization of Government-CASUOSTI
agreement that personnel should be recruited into areas of
critical need to replace retirees, deceased staff members
and those who have transferred their services elsewhere.
The deplorable staffing situation is as follows.

1. None of our Departments, in all the four institutions, has
up to the required minimum number of teaching and non-
teaching staff (as set by the various accrediting bodies, i.e.
National Board on Technical Education [NBTE] and National
Commission on Colleges of Education [NCCE] ). The short-
staffed situation is even so embarrassing that several
Departments have only one or two permanent lecturers.
This deplorable situation arose from the failure of
Government to replace retirees, deceased staffers and those
who have transferred their services elsewhere in the last
seven years.
2. Government has been significantly relieved in the area of
capital expenditures on our institutions because the
required physical infrastructures and learning resources as
well as provision for staff development are being taken care
of by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), an agency
of the Federal Government.
3. The Managements of our respective institutions have
been left to resort to employment of part-time and/or
contract lecturers with a view to keeping the programmes
afloat. However, apart from the illegal consequences of
casualization, this trend has led to the following
unacceptable developments.

a. The part-time and/or contract staffs are being subjected to

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