THE leadership of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has called on the Federal Government to ensure full payment of Peculiar Earned Academic Allowance (PEAA) to its members as well as prompt remittance of the check-off dues to the union.
President of COEASU, Mr Nuhu Ogirima, made the call in Abuja while expressing worries over delay in payment of salaries, reduction of earned allowance, among others, as observed from the payment of salaries to lecturers through the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) since February, 2020.
Ogirima said the lecturers were unhappy that the initial fears and opposition to IPPIS platform had never been addressed despite assurances by the government officials to take care of all the peculiarities of the colleges of education.
He said, “Our members are 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 will have no other option but to convene an emergency session of the National Executive Council (NEC) to take appropriate industrial decision(s) towards redressing the situation.”
He recalled that members of the union had been opposed 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 added that the issues and challenges envisioned which necessitated the resistance of the union to the pay platform have persisted “post-imposition.”
Ogirima said, “Whereas the marketers of the platform had touted prompt payment of salaries, payroll-personnel data synchronization for effective management, and, above all, eradication of payroll fraud, nay ghost worker syndrome, the real challenges and concerns earlier raised persist.”
He said the lecturers were concerned about delay in payment of salaries without explanation from the government officials, saying not even enquiries by the union from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federal (OAGF) have elicited any response.
“This does not augur well for a government which prides itself on the rule of law. As indicated in the Labour Act and also a fundamental convention of the International Labour Organisation, the payment of the emoluments of a labour force by the employer is a right,” he noted.
Ogirima added: “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 refunded.
“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 that 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 utilization of the pay 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 confirms our initial concern that the government could utilize the pay platform as a means of crippling the union financially by withholding its funds.”
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