Looming Strike: LASPOTECH students in anxiety, as they await outcome of today’s final meeting

Certainly this is not the best of time for students of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) due to the looming strike action by the Academic and non-academic Staff Unions of the institution which may starts tomorrow.

There seems to be no indication that the strike action that was suspended few weeks ago will not continue after today’s final meeting between the school management and the three Staff Unions of the Polytechnic; the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) who have been at loggerheads with the Rector, Mr. Oluyinka Sogunro.

The unions embarked on an industrial action few weeks ago basically on the issue of CONTISS 15 Migration arrears for staff, while attributing it to the end result of the Rector’s misadministration and insensitivity to the issues that affect their welfare in the polytechnic community. 

They alleged that his administration reneged on the previous tripartite agreement reached on March 7 this year, by the administration, governing council, officials of Ministry of Education, as well as the staff unions of the polytechnic, to commence the payment of CONTISS 15 migration arrears before its 25th convocation ceremony, held on March 9. On June 21st 2017, the unions suspended its two weeks old strike till July 31, 2017, threatening to resume the strike on August 1st if the school authority failed to meet up with their demands.

Most of the students who spoke with our correspondent expressed their displeasure regarding the impending strike action.

Adekule Olawale an HND 2 student said that; “my house rent will expire by September. If the school embarks on another, it will indeed affect me because I have to pay another house rent. I am curious waiting to know the outcome of their discussion.”

Mulikat Habeeb, an ND 2 student noted that; “I am curiously waiting for the outcome of the meeting. The school authority should give the lecturers what they want. We can’t afford stay at home for another few weeks or months.”

In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, a senior lecturer of the institution who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that ASUP is having a “mad meeting” with the school management today from 8am to 9pm, adding that the outcome of the meeting will determine if activities will continue in the school tomorrow.

The source said that from all indications it seems that the school management is not ready to give them what they want, saying that there is no other option than for them to embark on another strike action if the management failed to what they want.

“We propose to the school that they should be paying us the 89months arrears gradually. We agreed to spread it within the next five years. However, it is quite unfortunate that the school is failing to reason with us. We are very sure that the school has the financial capacity to pay us our money and that is why we are ready to fight for our right with our last breaths,” the source disclosed.

 The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of the Polytechnic(ASUP), Comrade Akinrinlola Ibitoye in a statement released not too long ago said that, “ at the congress held on April 20, 2017, the Deputy Rector(Academic) who represented the rector at the meeting, said that ‘ the administration had saved N343,000,000, only as at April, 2017 and are only waiting for the approval of the government to commence implementation.’ This amount could pay 16 months arrears at the first instance.

“The union is however aware that the approval of the council is enough for the payment of the arrears since it could be paid from the funds within the coffers of the polytechnic. The union is at a loss on why the officials of the ministry who were party to the tripartite agreement on March 7, 2017 are now singing a different tune. The union is also disappointed that officers of the ministry which we hold in the high esteem and respect cannot keep to an agreement mutually agreed to by the three parties. The unilateral decision of the officials of the ministry to pay only six months of arrears is against the earlier agreement.”

The union had expressed disappointment over the constant violation of law establishing the polytechnic saying that it is not allowing its governing council to function effectively as a result of perceived connivance between the polytechnic administration and the officials of the ministry.

The authority and the power of the governing council, the union stated, consist of a broad spectrum of stakeholders, inclusive officials of ministry clearly spelt out in the polytechnic enabling Law of 2012; Section 4, Subsections 1 and 2; that there is established for the polytechnic a Governing Council (referred to in this law as the council) which shall be the governing authority and be charged with the general control of the policy, finance and property of the polytechnic.

“And the council shall manage the affairs of the polytechnic in such a manner as it deems fit to promote the interest, objectives and functions of the polytechnic’.

“That the council shall regulate the salaries/emolument and determine the condition of service of all staff employed by the polytechnic’, and the council shall regulate the salaries/emolument and determine the conditions of service of all staff employed by the polytechnic according to Section 8 Subsection (n). ”

The union however demanded the immediate commencement of the payment of the arrears of CONTISS 15 migration , adding that the issue of arrears has gone beyond the stage of what, how and when to pay.

“In this regard, we humbly plead with the council to assert its authority and powers vested in it under the Laws of the polytechnic 2012. We further plead with the council to direct the administration and supervise the payment of arrears,” it said, while suggesting the following options for payment:

“The agreement on March 7, 2017 signed by the representatives of council, administration, the unions and officials of the ministry immediately after the convocation ceremony and the next phase in December, 2017, while the outstanding is to be negotiated between the unions and the administration; the immediate payments of 16 months arrears based on the availability of 343,000,000 only from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the polytechnic as announced by the rector and corroborated by the Deputy Rector (Acad.) 71 months , will be paid within a maximum period of two years, as well 87 months of arrears to be paid at once.”
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