IPPIS: COASU threatens FG over delay in salary payment, alleged illegal deductions

THE leadership of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has asked the Federal Government to urgently address the noticeable challenges in the payment of its members through the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform or face industrial unrest.

Tribune Online reports that President of COEASU, Comrade Nuhu Ogirima, listed some of these challenges to include, delay in salary payment, reduction of the Peculiar Earned Academic Allowance (PEAA) paid to lecturers, deduction of tax not negotiated with union, and non-remittance of check-off dues to the union among others.

Ogirima in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja on the need to address the plight of the college of education lecturers, said the anomalies have reinforced the earlier misgivings and opposition of the Union to the enrollment of its members on the IPPIS platform.

He recalled that members of “our onion had been opposed to the enrollment of academic staff of colleges of education on the obnoxious pay platform, IPPIS, until December 2019, when it was imposed.”

While calling on the appropriate authorities to entrench the culture of prompt payment of salaries, Ogirima said this would assist, in no small measure to cushion the effect of the harsh economic and social conditions that have become the reality of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “Our members are also looking forward to the government to redress, without further delay, the challenges engendered by the imposition of IPPIS.

“Should they persist, the leadership of the union would have no option but convene an emergency session of the National Executive Council (NEC), to take an appropriate industrial decision(s) towards redressing the situation,” he said.

According to him, quite a substantial development has occurred since the utilisation of the platform to effect payment of salaries, since February 2020.

He added that the issues and challenges envisioned which necessitated the resistance of the union to the pay platform persists “post-imposition.”

Ogirima said: “Whereas the marketers of the platform had touted prompt payment of salaries, payroll-personnel data synchronisation for effective management, and above all eradication of pay-roll fraud, nay ghost worker syndrome, the real challenges and concerns earlier raised persist.”

He said the lecturers were concerned about the non-payment of April 2020 salary, as at 11th May, without explanation from the government officials, saying not even enquires by the union from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federal (OAGF) has elicited any response.

“This does not augur well for the government; a government which prides itself on the rule of law. As indicated in the Labour Act and also a fundamental Convention of ILO, the payment of the emoluments of a labour force by the employer is a right,” he said.

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The COEASU President said: “Our current experience in the payment of March 2020 salary provides ample evidence.

“For instance, our Peculiar Earned Academic Allowance (PEAA) was reduced unilaterally by IPPIS office and nothing to show yet that it has been corrected let alone make a refund.

“The deduction of obnoxious tax, without recourse to the negotiated tax which our members had agreed upon with their respective state governments, is evident exploitation which is against the universal principle of negotiation in determining personal income tax.

“Same reason can be adduced for the persistent deduction of members salary for the National Housing Fund, to which they did not subscribe.

“OAGF has flagrantly refused to remit to the union the dues deducted since the utilisation of the payment platform to effect payment of salary of members.

“The non-remittance of our union dues, more than two months after its deduction by OAGF, also amounts to not only a breach of trust but a contravention of the law.

“This further buttresses our initial concern that the government could utilise the pay platform as a means of crippling/stifling the union financially by withholding her funds.

“The non-recognition of other third party deductions, with particular reference to the cooperative societies to which members subscribe for improved livelihood, is also a factor that underscores the perceived FGN drive towards the impoverishment of viable unions.

“The onus lies with FGN to prove otherwise, especially by ensuring that the needful is done in this regard,” he said.

He also pointed out the government has not kept to its promise on the payment of staff on other services, especially some of the staff on sabbatical leave who have not been included on the payroll.

He added that the same plight is being faced by some of the lecturers on study leave abroad, while some others, especially in Federal Capital Territory College of Education (COE), Zuba, who are yet to get their full salaries restored.

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