Labour dispute: ASUP issues 21-day ultimatum
Our reporter - Oko - Thursday Oct 10, 2019.
*ASUP rejects forced enrolment into IPPIS
RENEWED THREATS TO THE SURVIVAL OF POLYTECHNIC EDUCTION IN NIGERIA: THE POSITION OF THE ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF POLYTECHNICS.
Over the years, our union has remained consistent in our struggles in the conviction that only an efficiently run educational system will deliver our nation's quest for a knowledge driven economy.
Our current state as a wholly consuming and monolithic economy has equally led to our belief that the advancement of our nation in the areas of technology, technical and vocational education is non-negotiable as the nation navigates through the daunting challenges of our current socio economic woes.
This is the platform for the persistent position of our union that our Polytechnics, saddled with the mandate to provide training and research services to aid the ailing economy of the nation, should not be allowed to collapse.
In view of this, our union has been in constant engagements with the government of Nigeria in different scales with significant outcomes.
However, the recent events in the sector as captured hereunder have reawakened our consciousness to our strategic position in the sector and our responsibility to ensure that the sector does not collapse in deed. The current areas of concern are:
1. ATTEMPTS AT FORCEFUL ENROLMENT OF OUR MEMBERS INTO THE INTEGRATED PERSONNEL AND PAYROLL INFORMATION SYSTEM (IPPIS): In recent times and in an apparent effort to curb the celebrated corrupt practices in our public life particularly as it affects personnel and payroll administration in public institutions, the Federal Government set out to implement a centralized paypoint for all employees of the government. Our union, acting in agreement with the identified aim of the policy observed some drawbacks capable of crippling the entire sector. We have therefore been in constant engagement with the agency saddled with the responsibility to ensure smooth implementation since 2014. We have held that there is as of today, no demonstrable evidence to suggest that the template for the actualization of IPPIS captures peculiarities associated with
tertiary institutions globally. The operations of a technical committee established to look into our union's protestations have been met with the usual lethargy associated with the operations of government agencies. As we speak, threats, and intimidations are the only tools being deployed by government at forcing our members into the system as against constructive engagement aimed at resolving contentious aspects of the policy.
2. NON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FEDERAL POLYTECHNICS ACT 2019
AMENDMENT: In June 18, 2019, the President of the nation, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, signed into law, a bill for the amendment of the Polytechnics Act, sending the entire sector into a jubilant mood and bringing to an end the 12- year struggle of our union to change an obsolete legal regime of nearly three decades. However, more than 3 months after the birth of the amended Act, government and many polytechnics still operate in clear defiance of the provisions of the Act as amended. Our belief is that the sector cannot be robbed of the gains of this struggle, and the operators of the sector cannot carry on with such level of impunity unchallenged.
3. CONTINUED VICTIMISATION OF UNION OFFICERS: A new low has been recorded in this regard by the termination of the appointment of a former President of the union in The Federal Polytechnic, Mubi in unclear circumstances and the very recent termination of the appointment of the sitting chairman and secretary of our union in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo These incidents add to the plight of the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu (5+2) dismissed and suspended respectively since 6 months for participating in the last ASUP national strike, as well as the plight of a former chairman of our union in Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashiuku for nearly 4 years now for playing leading roles in our union and the recent mindless termination of the appointment of 37 members of our union in Abia State Polytechnic, Aba. The sector has continued to witness ugly reports of outdated repressive tendencies and intolerance in the administration of some of our Polytechnics.
4. STALLED RENEGOTIATION OF ASUP/FGN 2010 AGREEMENT: A renegotiation team was set up to renegotiate the union's Agreement with the government due since 2015 but set up in 2018. The committee is yet to respond to our union's charter of demands submitted 10 months ago and Government has refused all entreaties to reconvene the renegotiation. This is not honorable and does not engender mutual trust and industrial harmony in the sector.
5. RENEWED EFFORTS AT OBJECTIONABLE INSERTIONS IN THE REVIEW PROCESS OF THE SCHEME OF SERVICE FOR POLYTECHNICS: Our union has been complaining that insertions that undermine global best practices in tertiary education have been forced into the Scheme of Service currently at the final stages of the review process. We have held that as a union, we shall sustain our resistance to any practice that will undermine established structures in the hierarchy of cadres of staff in the sector.
6. VIOLATIONS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2017 Mos SIGNED WITH THE
GOVERNMENT: After the 2017 engagement between our union and the Government, a memorandum of settlement was signed between the parties. Unfortunately, but consistent with our governments over the years, critical aspects of the signed MOS are yet to be implemented. They include:
1. Non release of the NEEDS assessment funds to Polytechnics; nor the release of any form of revitalization fund for the sector.
2. Sustained reports of shortfalls in personnel releases in Polytechnics
3. Non payment of allowances in some Polytechnics
4. Non payment of salaries in some state owned Polytechnics.
RESOLUTION OF OUR UNION'S 96th NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING: Our union has reviewed the above situation as well as the refusal of government to respond to several correspondences on the issues as captured above and has resolved to rise up to the occasion once again in defense of the sector. The union's NEC is hereby issuing a 21 day ultimatum to the government to address the issues as listed satisfactorily or risk the indefinite withdrawal of services by our members nationwide.
As a follow up to this, all organs and chapters of our union are to begin mobilization for the engagement as we pursue this onerous task of rescuing the sector from imminent collapse
Utsma Y. Dutse (President)
Source: Field reports
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