By Toby Prince
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has threatened to commence on an indefinite industrial action if the federal government fails to address the problems highlighted by the union after the 21-day ultimatum issued.
The union had embarked on a strike in November 2017, to draw the attention of the government to the neglect of the technical education sector.
Almost one year after, the polytechnic lecturers issued a 21-day ultimatum for the government to fix the several predicaments of the group.
A statement released by the president, Usman Dutse, stated that the decision of the union to withdraw its services was made following the National Executive Council meeting aimed at the implementation of the agreement reached with the union by the federal government.
Mr Dutse noted that despite the fact that the union suspended the 2017 industrial action, the government has failed to implement the agreement signed by the two parties.
According to the president, issues that were not addressed include the non-implementation of the NEEDS Assessment report of 2014; non-release of promotion arrears of members and persistent shortfalls in the personnel releases to federal polytechnics since 2016.
Among others are the non-payment of negotiated allowances in polytechnics and other staff entitlements in many state-owned institutions; non passage of the amendment bill of the Polytechnics Act and the victimisation of union officers.
He explained that the Memorandum of Settlement (MOS) signed in 2017, which led to the suspension of the industrial action, prescribed a monitoring mechanism in the form of a rapid response team led by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education.
“In August, 2017 the committee for the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUP 2010 Agreement was inaugurated by the Minister for Education.
“The committee was saddled with the responsibility of renegotiating the last agreement signed between the government and the union since 2010 was due for renegotiation by 2015 according to the prescriptions of the agreement and in line with ILO conventions.
“Our union met on the 2nd of October, 2018 in Abuja to appraise the extent of execution of these activities as well as discuss other pressing issues in the sector.”
“The NEEDS Assessment report of 2014 remains unimplemented while the government’s excuse of “searching for sources of funding” increasingly becoming watery in the face of reports of recent releases to a sister sector as revitalization fund, amplifying the echoes of discrimination.”
“Shortfalls in personnel releases still persist in some Federal Polytechnics while arrears of same shortfalls are still owed; allowances of our members are still owed in arrears and unpaid in many institutions without any effort at properly situating the responsibility of paying these negotiated allowances.”
“Salaries are still owed in many state owned institutions with some owed up to ten months arrears,” he said.