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ASUP declares two-week strike

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The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has said it will commence a two-week strike from May 16, 2022.

ASUP, in a statement released on Wednesday, said it took the decision after an emergency National Executive Council meeting held on Wednesday.

The statement, signed by its national president, Anderson Ezeibe, and titled, ‘Status Update of the ASUP/Federal Government of Nigeria Engagement; and Resolutions of the Emergency National Executive Council Meeting of ASUP Held on the 11th Of May, 2022,’ stated that the 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 with the government. The signed MoA contained a clear path to sustainable resolution of the issues in dispute with time lines attached to each of the items in dispute.”

The union stated that it suspended the industrial action 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.”

The union alleged that after nine months of suspending its strike, it met to evaluate the government’s response to the MoA, where it gave the FG a one-month ultimatum, the FG did not honour its (the FG’s) agreement with the union.

“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,” the statement partly read.

The union also said that the government did not make attempts at conciliation despite the ultimatum given. It also stated that it stayed away from a May 9 meeting called by the Minister of Education, noting that the meeting failed to meet basic requirements for collective bargaining.

“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 Honourable Minister of Education (after the 2 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,” the statement read in part.

The PUNCH reported that ASUP said it would not attend a meeting with the Federal Government scheduled for Monday, May 9.

The statement further said, “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 two 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.”

The statement also listed the union’s demands, which the Federal Government had refused to meet, to include, “None release of the approved revitalisation fund for the sector: Approved N15bn yet to be released 11 months after approval by the President. None 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. None release of the reviewed normative instruments for institution/management and programmes accreditation: The document is currently awaiting approval of 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.”

The statement added, “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.

“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 appointment of principal officers with provisions at variance with the provisions of the Act.”

The strike is to commence on Monday, May 16.

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