May 10, 2017

Indefinite strike looms in AKSCOE

...as three days warning strike ends Tuesday
On Friday precisely, May 5, 2017 an ongoing second semester examination was put to a halt following a-3- Day warning strike embarked upon by members of staff of the Akwa Ibom State College of Education under the aegis of Joint Council of Unions.

One day to the end of the warning strike, management of the Institution seems to pay deaf ears and treat it with extreme and gratuitous levity as the Chairman, Governing Council of the Institution, Mrs. Regina Ikpat when contacted by Century Newsfront claimed ignorant of whatever goes on there.

In her response sent through sms from her 0802375….. airtel line, she noted,
“I have not been briefed by the management of the College why union embark on strike. Please, you can meet with the Management, thank you.”

On his part, the Provost of the College, Prof. Matthew Ekpo after failed appointments given to Century Newsfront noted on phone that until the warning strike is called off he cannot have any audience with the media.

When contacted on phone, the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Paul Udofia who previously was responding to calls, reneged in appointment given to journalists handed his phone over to his wife to speak to Century Newsfront.

The Unions stance, which was made available to Century Newsfront and signed by the three union Chairmen and Secretaries observed that their grievances included cut in salaries; non release of approved entitlements to deserving staff; maintenance of multiple bank accounts, which encourage fraudulent practices; refusal to conduct the 2016 promotion exercise for deserving staff; non-payment of promotion arrears and other entitlements; introduction of illegal and alien policy in creating AP & DC (Senior-Academic) and AP & DC (Senior-Administrative, Technical & Professional) among others.

They called for prompt intervention of the state government to redress the anomalies in the college as well as a total overhaul of the Bursary Department as it has caused lots of hardship to members of staff, “the staff of this college have continued to suffer unduly as a result of the irregularities going on in the Bursary Department; whereas the Governing Council has been misled and embarrassed by the unwholesome activities of the Bursary Department as exemplified by the operation of multiple bank accounts several of which may not have been officially declared, fearing that the on goings in the college may gradually, but inevitably snowball into industrial unrest, if not quickly arrested”, the union prayed.

The staff members also called for immediate payment of arrears, unpaid personnel emoluments and other entitlements as well as payment of 7.5 per cent Contributive Pensions to eligible staff, which according to them, was misappropriated by the college management. They noted that failure to address these, the union would be forced to embark on indefinite strike without notice.

A visit to the college premises Century Newsfront observed that the ongoing first semester examination has been thwarted by the industrial action while the Special Assistant to the Governor on Education Matters, Otobong Akpan who had a function to attend at the College premises could not attend anymore and provost of the College, Prof. Matthew Ekpo was barred from gaining entrance into the college by irritant unionists.

In a chat with Century Newsfront, the Chairman, Joint Council of Unions in the Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Mr. Ene Archibong expressed dissatisfaction over what he described as management issues. He maintained that if the right thing is done, there would not be any reason for strike action. Mr. Archibong noted with delight the decision of the Unions to allow some relevant departments responsible for the issuance of certificate to go on in what he described as skeletal work to pave way for ex-students to collect certificates so as to apply in the ongoing job vacancy declared by the state government.

The Chairman decried a situation where the state government treats very important issues with what he described as kids’ gloves, explained that the issue of accommodating the “11 academic staff (Chief and Principal lecturers) on whose behalf the State House of Assembly intervened regarding the issue of 65 years retirement as approved for academic staff of state owned Tertiary Institutions; payment of salaries to five academic staff reinstated by government since march, 2016” are yet to be implemented thereby flaunting the decisions of the legislative arm of government.

By Saviour Ekpe