Fresh industrial crisis looms in polytechnics over non-implementation of agreement
THERE are indications that the Federal Government may truncate the industrial atmosphere in the polytechnics nationwide once again as a result of suspension of the implementation of CONTISS 15.
Subsequent upon this, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Non Academic Staff Union and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) have warned against a potential breach of academic activities in the public-owned polytechnics nationwide.
A statement jointly signed by the unions in Abuja at the weekend, quoted a circular entitled, ‘FME/S/66/C.2/11/270’ dated 26th January 2015 emanating from the Minister of Education’s office, which purportedly terminated the implementation of CONTISS 15 in the polytechnics as a harbinger of the looming crisis. The unions declared that the circular offended the spirit and letters of agreement reached with the Federal Government.
The statement recalled that the unions went on strike for the better part of last year due to government’s refusal to “act responsibly and honour agreements” signed with them but in “deference to the then newly appointed Minister’s plea for time, and to his strong assurances that the thorny issues would be resolved within three months,” the unions resolved to give the government a benefit of the doubt and suspended the strike in July 2014.
The statement added: “Unfortunately and sadly, six (6) months after, and despite repeated assurances in several meetings with the Honourable Minister of Education, what we get is the suspension of a statutory salary structure (CONTISS 15) approved by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, which implementation dates back to 2009.”
The unions lamented that no reasonable progress has been made on the other issues as promised, stating that the white paper on the visitations to federal polytechnics is still yet to be released five years after the exercise, the discrimination against polytechnic graduates has heightened in the labour market due to non-removal of ceiling on their career progression and that the polytechnic sector is still being grossly underfunded.
They added that the National Polytechnics Commission (NPC) is still yet to be established, contrary to agreement reached and that not much progress has been made in the review of the Polytechnic Act, among other demands.
The statement regretted that the Needs Assessment of public polytechnics has been abandoned nine months after the exercise was concluded and the report submitted to government.
“Disturbingly, the rot and decay in the polytechnic system on account of incompetent governance and administration deepens progressively as supervision appears extensively compromised,” it added.
The Unions also condemn in “strongest possible terms the culture of impunity and reckless abuse of power’ by the governing councils and managements of Federal Polytechnic Oko and Ado-Ekiti.
They said the councils have “overreached their powers” by proscribing duly registered unions, “an action that is ultra vires to their powers and a wanton breach of the Trade Union’s Act. This is not acceptable.”
They said they have maintained the “highest standards of diligence, patience and due process in our engagement with government and its agencies. But let these virtues not be misconstrued for fragility.”
They called on the Minister of Education to, “without delay reverse the purported circular suspending the implementation of CONTISS 15 and cause the governing councils and management of Federal Polytechnic, Oko and Ado-Ekiti to reverse their purported proscription of the unions.
“We strongly caution that our goodwill should not be taken for granted. Failure to reverse this retrogressive and illegitimate directive will leave our unions with no other choice but resort to the last option. We also demand that all outstanding issues in our portfolio of demands be concluded forthwith without further delay to avert a completely avoidable breakdown in industrial peace in the polytechnics.”
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