Staff Protest Unilateral Retirement Of Colleagues In COHTECH

In Breaking News, Reports

By Jonathan Ugbal

Non-teaching staff of the College of Health Technology, COHTECH, Calabar on Thursday protested the forcible retirement of five of their colleagues by the Cross River Auditor General in what they say is a breach of the procedure.

The staff marched round the campus chanting solidarity songs for about an hour before the management addressed them pleading for time since there is an ongoing transition in administration at the State.

Five of our members have not received salaries since January and it was only yesterday that the Auditor General of the State, Mr. John Odey sent a letter to the school that they have since been retired because they attained 35 years of service or are at 60 years of age and he said that they are plans to retire more,” Comrade Emmanuel Enyiegor, the Acting National Secretary and immediate past Branch Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics, SSANIP told CrossRiverWatch.

He said the harmonization circular was very clear on the terms of retirement and that the actions of the Auditor General were unilateral and without recourse to the Head of Service, Accountant General or even the basic procedure of notification.

“When January salaries were paid, they just discovered that they were not receiving salaries. And after continuing to work for months without pay, a letter dated May 22, 2023 now says that they are retired and there is a plan to retire more,” Enyiegor said.

He said Mr. Odey’s actions smacked of some witch-hunt as non-teaching staff in the State owned University, College of Education, Awi Akamkpa; Institute of Technology and Management, Ugep as well as the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery had to retire at either 35 years of service or at age 65.

“When you get to 35 years of service, you don’t retire in academia until you are 65. Or, are they saying that non-teaching staff are not important? If that is the case, we will all fold our hands. There is supposed to be a conversation if there is a change in the policy. But, the State biometric staff form as well as their payslips carry their retirement dates and it is not January,” Enyiogor added.

A quick check on the Polytechnics Amendment Act 2019 shows that two new subsections were added to Section 14.

Section 14 subsection 4 reads; “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Pensions Reform Act, the compulsory retirement age of staff of Polytechnics shall be 65 years.”

On the next course of action, the union representative averred that; “Management pleaded that we should wait until June 6th which we have agreed. The Governing Council is also aware and has written too. We will wait and see what they will say by then,” Enyiogor added.

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