Lecturers in the nation’s polytechnic sector have threatened to withdraw their services and commence a comprehensive and indefinite strike action if the federal government fails to address their grievances within 21 days, accusing the government of neglecting the sector., The Nation reports.
In a letter dated October 9, 2017 addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, the lecturers also threatened to withdraw from the negotiation of its 2010 agreement with the government as the issues currently in dispute constitute violations of the subsisting agreement between the union and government.
The letter signed by the National President of the Union, Comrade Usman, Y. Dutse was copied to the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education and the Chairman, Federal Government/ASUP 2010 Renegotiation Committee.
Dutse said “the NEC of our union reviewed the progress made by the government in resolving issues bordering on the welfare of its members and smooth functioning of the sector. NEC specifically discussed the outcome of the meeting between our union and the Honorable Minister of Education on the 22nd of August, 2017.
“The Honorable Minister had at the meeting, assured the union that within one month, the issues presented by the union would have been addressed. You may also recall sir, that our union withdrew the services of its members in a one week warning strike in February, 2017 over same issues.”
He said a review of the progress made after six weeks of the meeting with the Minister revealed that no substantial progress has been made, adding that while the Minister had direct d a review of the NEEDS assessment survey in line with inflationary trend before the document is transmitted to the Federal Executive Council for approval. there is no indication towards the movement of the document to the Federal Executive Council for necessary action.
He said further that despite the directive on the sustained shortfalls in personnel releases and withdrawal of allowances since December, 2015 and for institutions to continue to pay the allowances until such is captured in the budget, the directive has been largely ignored while their members are being owed this allowance with some owed for as much as 18 months.
According to the ASUP President, the shortfalls has continued to persist with only 2 Polytechnics receiving their shortfalls, while promotion arrears are equally owed with some dating as far as 2014.
He said the government has also not shown any seriousness on addressing the issue of the non release of CONTISS 15 Migration Arrears as the arrears has continue to increase across both federal and state owned institutions since 2009 for the lower cadre.
He said further that despite the Minister’s directive that the template prepared by the ministry appointment process of Rectors be adhered to, some polytechnics, notably Federal Polytechnics Bauchi, Oko and Kaduna Polytechnic have brazenly violated the template in different dimensions.
According to him, the union believes is taking place with the active connivance of representatives of the ministry and the regulatory body in the governing councils of the affected institutions, adding that situation is even worse in state owned institutions with different levels of unimaginable violations taking place in the appointment process.
He said despite repeated assurances, the amendment bill of the Polytechnics Act which passed through public hearing at the Senate since December 6th 2016 is yet to be passed by the Senate and attributes this to the low and unfortunate premium placed on Technological education in the country as same bill had died with the 6th and 7th assemblies.
He alleged that Officers of our union are still victimized in Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi Uku, Osun state Polytechnic Iree, Adamawa state Polytechnic Yola and Federal Polytechnic Mubi. Our union check off dues in Federal Polytechnic Mubi is still being released to unauthorized persons by the rector and management of same institution.
He also alleged the non-payment of staff salaries in some state owned institutions, saying “this has continued despite repeated calls by our union for needed intervention. States like Abia currently owes 9 months while others like Edo, Kogi, Oyo, Benue, Osun, Imo, Plateau and Bayelsa owe between 8 and 4 months. Check off dues of our union in these states are equally withheld inclusive of Rivers state.
“In the face of these extreme acts of provocation, our members in Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta are threatened with mass sack as the governor of Ogun state has sustained his drive to establish a new polytechnic in a farmland in Ikpokia, defying logic and the genuine concerns of stakeholders.”
In view of this he said, “the 89th meeting of NEC of our union therefore resolved to issue a 21 day ultimatum to the government effective 9th October, 2017 to comprehensively address the issues raised. The union will be left with no choice than to withdraw the services of its members in a total and comprehensive national industrial action in defense of the sector if the government fails to do the needful.
“The union may also reconsider its continued participation in the renegotiation of its 2010 agreement with the government as the issues listed above constitute violations of the subsisting agreement.
“It is the hope of our union that government should seize the opportunity provided by the 21 days window to resolve the issues and avert the ugly consequence of avoidable disruption in academic calendar across Nigerian polytechnics and monotechnics.”