warn against collapse of the system
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, has threatened to withdraw their services if the Federal Government fails to address the problems in the Polytechnic education.
ASUP has specifically issued a 21 day ultimatum which started on October 2, to the government to address the lingering challenges in the system or face industrial action.
President of ASUP Comrade Usman Dutse in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, said the decision of the Union to down tools was reached after the National Executive Council meeting and that it was for the government to implement the agreement reached with the union.
Dutse disclosed that the union had embarked on strike in November, 2017 to draw the attention of the government to the need to reverse the growing trend of neglect of the technical education sector, but govenment despite the fact that the union suspended the action, failed to implement the agreement the two parties entered into
He listed some of the contentious issues to include the non implementation of the NEEDS Assessment report of 2014; Non release of promotion arrears of members as well as persistent shortfalls in the personnel releases of Federal Polytechnics since 2016.
Others he said are the non payment of negotiated allowances in polytechnics; non payment of salaries and other staff entitlements in many state owned institutions; non release of CONTISS 15 migration arrears; infractions in the appointment process of rectors in polytechnics; non passage of the amendment bill of the Polytechnics Act; victimization of union officers.
The explained that the memorandum of settlement (MoS) signed as a precursor to suspending the industrial action prescribed actionable timelines as well as a monitoring mechanism in the form of a rapid response team led by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education”.
According to him, “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 terms of settlement as contained in the memorandum are yet to be satisfactorily implemented. The NEEDS Assessment report of 2014 remain 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.
“Deductions of check off dues, pension, and welfare benefits of members are also unremitted in some state institutions. Arrears of CONTISS 15 MIGRATION are still owed for the lower cadre with the government appearing rudderless on the issue. The amendment bill of the Polytechnics Act is yet to be signed into law.
“Our officers are still being victimized with new grounds of tyranny being broken in reports of purported proscriptions of our union in some states.
“This is well over the time lines specified for each of these items. The rapid response team set up for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the terms of the MoS operates in serial default of its own terms”.
Dutse said the team was designed to meet on a monthly basis to assess the performance indices in the MoS, but regrettably, the team has only met three times in nearly one year, despite letters written by the union aimed at jerking the team off its lethargy.
On the renegotiation of the union’s agreement with the government, he said the meeting was stalled and was yet to commence in actual terms.
He said, “The committee was designed to complete its assignment on or before December, 2017. The committee had its last (and 3rd ) meeting in April, 2018 and is yet to reconvene despite letters from our union urging the committee to do the needful in view of the strategic importance of the process to industrial harmony across our campuses.
“We are therefore led be these to doubt the sincerity of the renegotiation process in its entirety. Renewed plans to force members into the IPPIS. Our union has been on the discussion table with officials of IPPIS as well as NBTE on modalities for a smooth and safe enrolment of members into the IPPIS platform.
“The last meeting which took place in march 2018 was postponed to enable the renegotiation committee conclude its assignment and provide the needed security in the capture of the totality of members’ emoluments.
“However, in an apparent display of betrayal, the NBTE which has refused to commit to the successful conclusion of the renegotiation process is employing underhand strategies to force our members into the platform with or without our emoluments secured.
” We are appalled that the NBTE had kick started this new arm twisting regime by convening a meeting with the IPPIS and the managements of polytechnics without the unions, where they resolved to force our members into the platform.
” It is on record that the other legs of the tripod in the tertiary division of the nation’s education landscape are not facing such level of intimidation. This has strengthened our position that the future of polytechnics in the country indeed lie outside the regulations of the NBTE.
“Following these observations, the meeting of the NEC of our union has been left with no other alternative than to return to the trenches to fight for the sector, our members, our students and indeed the Nigerian state.
“We are therefore using this medium to issue a 21 day ultimatum effective 2nd October, 2018 for the government to address these lingering issues and call the NBTE to order or face an avoidable total and comprehensive shut down of the sector.”