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The Joint Union of Plateau State Owned Tertiary Institutions (JUPTI) has appealed to the state government to resolve the lingering issues which have led to the ongoing strike action across all institutions under the union, vowing not to resume work if the issues are not resolved.
JUPTI said their members are being owed 25 percent of withheld Treasury Single Account funds, totaling ₦460 million since 2016.
The union equally said its members are suffering non-implementation of CONTEDISS peculiar allowance as contained in the agreement reached between JUPTI and the government, which are among other issues that have continued to linger.
Africa Daily News, New York recalls that JUPTI has declared a strike which has been on for two weeks now and has disrupted academic activities in state-owned tertiary institutions across the state.
Briefing journalists in Jos, the state capital, Chairman of JUPTI, Comrade Sunoe Longbaam, said, ‘Again we are worried by the manner in which the government, through some of its agencies and departments are attending to our correspondence. A situation where our reminders and notices are not responded to by offices where such letters are addressed calls for concern.’
‘We are law-abiding unions and cannot just watch while some officials in government toy with tertiary education in the state.’
According to him, ‘When the issue was resolved with the government in 2016, it was agreed that Ministry of Finance should liaise with the bursars of the state-owned tertiary institutions to work out modalities for the release of the funds to respective institutions but it will interest you to know that four years after the agreement, no any action or efforts to fulfill the agreement on the part of Ministry of Finance or Accountant General office despite numerous reminders by the union’.
On the non-implementation of the peculiar allowance as contained in the agreement for the implementation of CONTEDISS; the union said, “This issue has lingered for so long even after the financial implication was sent to Government as demanded.
‘The Union again wrote to Government in our letter dated 28th February 2020 reminding Government that our members are yet to enjoy this allowance with the peculiar nature of the duties we perform and these have seriously affected the morale of our members.’
He however said, “In a reply to our letter dated 9th March 2020, the government noted the concern raised by Union and pleaded for more time since the negotiation of the National Minimum Wage was ongoing. Surprisingly on implementation of the National Minimum Wage, all efforts to ensure that the 5% peculiar allowance is captured along with the table prove abortive.
‘This is a subsistence allowance approved by our supervisory body and we are aware this has been fully implemented in our sister institutions.’
Speaking on the non-payment of 24 months pension arrears of retirees of tertiary institutions, the JUPTI chairman said, “It was resolved that the 24 months Pension Arrears of Retirees of Tertiary Institutions be, settled within the shortest possible time but regrettably the matter is still unresolved”.
On the deconsolidation of salary structure of tertiary institutions by the state Ministry of Finance, Longbaam explained that “During the implementation of the National Minimum Wage in the state, it is regrettable from nowhere; our hitherto Consolidated Salary Structure was deconsolidated at salary preparation point without regard to our peculiarity.
‘All efforts to have this corrected even with the agreement reached to that effect in June 2021, has not yielded any result.’
According to him, ‘The deconsolidation of the Salary Structure of Tertiary Institutions is a violation of the law and circular Ref. SWC/S/04/S.80/228 dated 12 March 2010 and circular Ref. SWC.04/Vol.X/734 dated 14th November 2019 as a result of the consequential adjustment of the National Minimum Wage.’
‘The Union recalls that the State Government through a circular dated 17th March 2020 Ref. HCS/S/ALL/2/XX approved the implementation of the National Minimum Wage and the Consolidated Salary Structure for Tertiary Institutions in the state.’
‘The question is who tempered and split the consolidated salary structure of Tertiary Institutions into different components?’
Speaking on the continued withholding of salary deductions by the state government, Longbaam said, “We have observed in recent months that Government releases salary without deductions and these situations have continued to linger for too long.
“We are worried because it is affecting our Cooperative, National Housing Funds as well as our Union activities.
“About 75% of staff salaries are been withheld for months not minding the fact that these are deductions directly from staff salaries for Cooperative, National Housing Funds, and Union Check-Off Dues. These deductions especially the cooperative savings are meant for investment and immediate needs of staff which we expect.”
He added that the government is meant to encourage the habit of savings, but instead, they are “holding more than half of our staff monthly salaries in the guise of scarce resources”.
On the enrollment of JUPTI members and their spouses into the Plateau State Health Insurance Scheme (PLASCHEMA), the Union said, “Unfortunately, during the enrollment exercise all staff were captured regardless of whether the staff has already been enrolled under his/her spouse or both spouses work in the same organisation or with the same government, were compulsorily enrolled.
‘It should be noted that PLASCHEMA had been deducting money from staff salaries for a period of nine) months without corresponding benefits from the health scheme.’
JUPTI calls on the government to maintain the cordial relationship that had existed before now and reciprocate the kind gesture and understanding the union has shown in trying to resolve the lingering issues.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK