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College workers protest exclusion from 40% pay rise

The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has received with mixed feelings the increase of 40% in the salary of civil servants.

A statement by the National President of COEASU, Dr Smart Odunayo Olugbeko said though the Union was happy that Civil Servants, who are the drivers of government policies, have been considered for salary increase, the Union was, however, appalled at government’s decision to exclude some categories of workers, such as lecturers and other workers in tertiary institutions.

Dr Olugbeko said the discriminatory increase in worker’s salary was an attempt to “promote divide and rule” and make Nigerian workers unable to speak with one voice on issues that affect their general welfare.

“Government, in granting the increase, explained that it was to enable civil servants cushion the effect of inflation and increase in the cost of living as if lecturers and other workers in the tertiary education sector are immune against inflation and geometrical rise in cost of living,” he said.

He continued: “It is disheartening to note that lecturers and other workers in Colleges of Education had their last increase in salary in 2010, which was 13 years ago. The implication is that what the lecturers were earning in 2010 is the same amount they still earn in 2023.

“It is unfortunate that Government at the various levels in Nigeria is treating the issue of salary increase as a privilege they give to workers at their whims and caprices.

“It is important to reiterate the fact that salary increase is not a privilege or favour from government. It is part of the rights workers enjoy and especially when such a salary structure is a product of an agreement that stipulates its expiry time.”

Dr Olugbeko insisted that salary increase for academic staff in tertiary institutions was not a donation from government; rather a product of negotiation between government and the unions due to the peculiarity of the system in terms of job specifications that attract different allowances for different cadres of workers.

He called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, return to the renegotiation table to conclude the renegotiation which includes salary increase for academic staff in Colleges of Education.

Writing by Daniel Adejo; Editing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade and Tony Okerafor