Wednesday 4 February 2015

Strike and Mass Action by Osun Tertiary Education Workers:

Aregbesola Govt. Should Accede to Demands of Lecturers
·         We condemn the nonchalant attitude of the government to education
·         We call for united actions striking workers and students

Again, we in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemn the attitude of the Rauf Aregbesola-led Osun State government to the demands of the lecturers of the state-owned tertiary institutions. Currently, the lecturers under the banner of Council of Academic Staff Unions of Osun Tertiary Institutions (CASUOSTI) are on two-day weekly strike action, calling for the implementation of previous agreements with the state government. These agreements include: end to rip off under the guise of the fraudulent Contributory Pension Scheme, which has led to chaotic retirement; immediate implementation of the collective agreement onstaffing, relief of tax burdens and payment of unconsolidated allowances; and end to illegal withholding of deductions from salaries. The other demand is the end to the culture of haphazard and delayed payment of salaries.
We in the ERC fully support the demands of the lecturers and call on the Osun State government to show responsibility by acceding immediately to the demands of the lecturers. We also support the strike and mass action being organized by CASUOSTI and COEASU to compel government to implement these demands.

We find it condemnable the care-free attitude of the Osun State government to tertiary education. This current industrial action of the lecturers in the state-owned polytechnics and colleges of education will be the third or fourth time the union will be fighting and striking over these demands. In most cases, the government promised and even reached agreement to implement the demands, only for the government to again shirk in its responsibility. This does not show a serious government interested in the wellbeing of workers and development of education. The last strike of lecturers under CASUOSTI over these demands lasted over five (5) months before government could do anything. Clearly, unless the government is stopped in its current path by mass action of workers and students, its inactions may again dislocate tertiary education in the state. 
The failure of the Aregbesola government to resolve once and for all the demands of the lecturers again shows that the government is anti-poor, just like its PDP predecessors. While the government has refused to implement simple agreements with tertiary institutions’ lecturers, workers in the state public and civil service are owed months of salary arrears, while pensioners are suffering due to unpaid pensions and gratuities. 
The worn-out of the government that there is no fund to provide the basic rights of workers and improve education fundamentally is lame. The reality is that the government has been wasteful, committing public funds to private coffers. For instance, while government handed over almost one billion naira to a private firm, under the guise of procuring free school uniforms for pupils in the state, the reality is that the government actually duped the state. Currently, parents have to procure the uniforms at a price that is more than twice of the market price. Also, the so-called mega-school project of the government, which has gulped as much as N14 billion, has only seen only four schools, out of over 2, 100 (two thousand and one hundred) schools, being reconstructed and completed after four years. Worse still, public education has continued to deteriorate; reeling from one crisis to another. All this shows the pro-rich character of the government. Only mass struggle of workers, students and the poor can compel the government to concede to genuine demands of the working people. 

This is why we welcome and support the mass action being organized by CASUOSTI to mobilize public support. We enjoin CASUOSTI to continue in this direction, and move a step further by mobilizing not just their members but students, parents and other workers in the state for more mass actions. Wealso call on students, parents, civil society and labour movement in the state to support the lecturers. We also call on labour movement to address the welfare issues of their members. It is clearly condemnable that labour movement leadership in the state will keep quiet when workers’ salaries are not paid for months, pensioners suffering from unpaid and accumulated pension arrears, while public and social infrastructures are in terrible state.

Oluwole Engels
Coordinator, ERC Osun State

1 comment:

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