Another setback looms in the nation’s education sector as members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) prepare to embark on a warning strike.
ASUP President, Anderson Ezeibe, made the announcement on Wednesday, two days after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) extended its ongoing strike which began in mid-February by another 12 weeks.
He stated that the polytechnic lecturers would withdraw their services in a two-week industrial action with effect from Monday next week.
Ezeibe explained that the decision was reached at the emergency meeting of the union’s National Executive Council to review the response of the Federal Government to its ultimatum.
He added that ASUP had suspended its initial strike in June 2021 following the signing of a Memorandum of Action (MoA) with the government which contained a clear path to a sustainable resolution of the issues in dispute with timelines attached to each of them.
The ASUP president said while the suspension of the industrial action was for a period of three months, the government refused to address the issues raised.
As a result, he stated, the union issues an ultimatum which expired on May 4, but the situation has remained the same with no concrete effort on the government’s part.
Ezeibe stressed that the warning strike was to appeal to Nigerians to prevail on the government to do the needful within the two weeks so as to avoid an indefinite shut down of the sector.
Read the full statement below:
ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF POLYTECHNICS (ASUP)
11th May 2022
STATUS UPDATE OF THE ASUP/ FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA ENGAGEMENT; AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE EMERGENCY NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) MEETING OF ASUP HELD ON THE 11th OF MAY, 2022
Esteemed members of the press,
Our Union suspended its industrial action declared on the 6th of April 2021 on the 10th of June 2021 following the signing of a Memorandum of Action (MoA) with the government. The signed MoA contained a clear path to a sustainable resolution of the issues in dispute with timelines attached to each of the items in dispute.
The suspension of the industrial action was for a period of three months to enable the government conclude processes already initiated in the direction of fulfilment of the items in the MoA which are process-led.
Nine months after the suspension of the industrial action and six months after the expiration of the three-month period of suspension, our Union’s NEC met in its 102nd meeting in Federal Polytechnic Mubi and after reviewing the report of the implementation of the MoA, resolved to issue a 1-month ultimatum to the government effective 4th April 2022 to address the outstanding items in the MoA and other emergent issues or face the reality of another trade dispute with our Union.
Our Union’s ultimatum expired on the 4th of May, 2022 and as is the norm, the Union’s NEC reconvened today, 11th of May, 2022 to review the response of the government to the ultimatum, particularly as it affects relevant agencies/functionaries of government.
Within the period of the ultimatum, the Union met with the National Board for Technical Education to review the grievances with a view to resolution. Another meeting fixed at the instance of the Honorable Minister of Education (after the expiration of the ultimatum) failed to meet basic requirements for collective bargaining. Our Union stayed away from the meeting as it was not structured to address the issues in dispute. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment only acknowledged receipt of the union’s ultimatum and made no attempts at conciliation.
Spirited efforts were also made by the Chairman of Chairmen of Governing Councils of Polytechnics in Nigeria and some members of the National Assembly in the direction of a resolution.
The status of the items in dispute as of today is captured below:
1 Non-release of the approved revitalization fund for the sector: Approved N15bn yet to be released 11 months after approval by the President.
2 Non-release of arrears of the new minimum wage: The owed 10 months arrears for the Polytechnics is yet to be released. The composite amount covering all Federal Tertiary Institutions to the approximate figure of N19Bn currently exists as an AIE in the Accountant Generals Office.
3 Non-release of the reviewed normative instruments for institution/management and programs accreditation: The document is currently awaiting approval from the Management of NBTE. This document is expected to provide a framework to address non-payment of salaries in state-owned institutions, non-compliance with approved retirement age, non-deployment of approved salary structures, poor governance structure as well as other issues affecting standards, particularly in state-owned Polytechnics. As a consequence, our members in Abia, Ogun, Edo, Benue, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Plateau, and Osun states are owed salaries while they also continue to suffer from different levels of deprivation including non-release of promotions and non-deployment of appropriate retirement age. Such deprivations are also evident in Adamawa, Niger, Sokoto, and Delta States where the government has resolved to disrupt the hitherto timely payment of salaries with a subvention-styled funding regime.
4 Sustained infractions in implementation of the provisions of the Federal Polytechnics Act as amended in 2019: This issue is currently typified by the arbitrary removal of deputy rectors in Auchi Polytechnic, and the existence of multiple templates for the appointment of principal officers with provisions at variance with the provisions of the Act.
5 Delay in the appointment of rectors: The appointment process in Kaduna Polytechnic, Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Federal Polytechnic Offa, and Federal Polytechnic Ekowe continues to linger.
6 Non Release of Arrears of CONTISS 15 Migration for the Lower Cadre: This issue remains at the committee level and even in chapters like NILEST, Zaria implementation is yet to commence.
7 Non-release of the scheme of service for Polytechnics: Since 2017, the sector has been struggling with a review process for the scheme of service and conditions of service in use in the sector.
8 Continued Victimisation of Union Officers: Our officials in IMT Enugu and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo still remain out of job.
9 Continued Arm twisting of Members in Colleges of Agriculture By the ARCN: This has continued as our members in these institutions continue to experience intimidation.
Following exhaustive deliberations, on the update as outlined above, the emergency meeting of the Union’s National Executive Council has resolved that members should withdraw their services in a 2 weeks industrial action with effect from Monday, 16th of May 2022.
We are deploying this medium to equally appeal to members of the public to prevail on the government to do the needful within the 2 weeks period so as to avoid an indefinite shut down of the sector.
Anderson U. Ezeibe