ASUP President, Anderson Ezeibe, accused the Federal Government of insensitivity, saying despite receiving the union’s notice of strike, the government has failed to reach out to members with a view to resolving the controversial issues.
Polytechnic lecturers had threatened to embark on strike from April 6, over what they described as unresolved issues with the Federal Government and some states.
Ezeibe lamented that the issues facing polytechnics in the country had lingered for too long and required urgent attention.
He said: “Because of the general lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 last year, we could not go on strike again. When we resumed around October last year, our national executive council resolved to press for these demands. However, aside from the issues that prompted us to want to go on strike, other matters have cropped up. Yet none of the original issues have been resolved conclusively. It is the obvious government is not serious. Ordinarily, they will tell you that there is no money, but what about issues that do not require financial intervention?
Federal Polytechnics in the country have no governing councils since May last year. So, what it means is that approval of staff appraisal activities cannot be carried out. Principal officers cannot be appointed because such requires the approval of governing councils,” he added.
Besides, the ASUP boss said workers are being owned 10 months arrears of minimum wage since 2019, while promotion arrears for 2017 are still being owed.
We have states where members still retire at 60 years. We have institutions where colleagues who are unionists are being victimised.
Recently, the Accountant General of the Federation wrote 19 federal polytechnics, alleging that they have tax liabilities of N19 billion, which they plan to recover from members. This was done without any form of verification or reconciliation.
And there is the issue of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS). The issue of the third-party deduction is still there unresolved. They deduct money for cooperative societies, which are not remitted. So, we have many issues that are unresolved and the government is just paying lip service,” Ezeibe added
He also accused the government of failing to inaugurate National Commission for Polytechnics. He said polytechnic is the only arm of tertiary education sub-sector that does not have a commission.
He said: “Universities and Colleges of Education have one, Basic and Nomadic Education has as well. It is the only polytechnic that does not have a commission regulating it. It is very important because it means we are not properly regulated. Assuming we have a commission, some of these problems would have been addressed.”
Ezeibe advised the government to commence productive and purposeful negotiation with the union, saying that is the only way out of the impending strike.
He said: “Government should commence productive negotiations with ASUP so that we can start solving these problems. We would like to see a government that is serious about restoring polytechnics to its pride of place.”