By NBF News
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New pay for Poly workers
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It is commendable that after over two years of wage increase negotiations between the Federal Government and three staff unions of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, all the parties to the industrial dispute have at last signed an agreement on the approved 53.37 percent wage raise. This concludes the salary increase negotiation between the government and the unions, which commenced on February, 27, 2007.

The agreement signed in the presence of the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, his permanent secretary, the executive secretary of National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), leaders of the governing councils for the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education and National Executive Council members of the staff unions took retroactive effect from July 2009.

The affected unions are the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), Non Academic Staff Union of both Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education (SSUCOEN) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU).

Details of the agreement as revealed by the National Publicity Secretary of ASUP, Mr. Adesoji Senbanjo, show a new salary increase of 53.37 percent for lecturers on levels 1-14. According to Senbanjo, chief lecturers from level 15 and above, an equivalent of a professor in the university got 56 percent salary increment and seven percent for Academic Peculiar Allowance for all ASUP members in the system, irrespective of their level.

Other highlights of the new wage increase include the payment of Practical Field Trip and Project Allowances for all eligible SSANIP members, retirement age of 65 years effective from January 2010 and single term tenure of Rectors subject to the passage of the Education Bill now before the National Assembly.

We commend the federal government and the staff unions of these institutions for finally resolving the wage increase issue begun over two years ago. But it is not good that the workers in the country would get pay raise only when they agitate through strikes.

The man-hours wasted through unnecessary industrial actions can be avoided if the government comes up with a mechanism of raising workers' salaries and emoluments at agreed intervals without being coerced to do so. Such expected wage increases will take care of inflationary trends in the economy. In other words, it should reflect the socio-economic realities of the time. The salary review mechanism should cut across all tiers of government, agencies and institutions.

Beyond this, the government should fund education adequately. Education is a sector that cannot wait until the economy improves as some of our leaders sermonize. If education is well funded, the needless hiccups frequently experienced in the sector would definitely become a thing of the past.

And if the country is desirous of taking a leap at industrialization, it should seriously consider committing a large percentage of its resources to education. In a knowledge-driven world, there is no way we can make meaningful progress in industrial development if we continue to pay lip service to education.

Now that the government has fulfilled its part, it is left to the teachers and other workers in these institutions to reciprocate this gesture with improved standard of service. They should also increase their level of productivity and contribute more to the system.