The ongoing industrial action by the members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), has continued to paralyse academic activities at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko.
Orient Daily gathered that the strike action, which commenced last Monday, was set to take another dimension, as union members of the polytechnic have threatened to continue, even after the federal government might have met the demands of the national body.
Speaking exclusively to Orient Daily, the chairman of ASUP, Federal Polytechnic, Oko chapter, Comrade Godson Okeoma, decried the shortfalls in personnel releases and withdrawal of allowances as well as non-payment of promotion arrears that have been accumulated over the years.
Okeoma, who disclosed that the payment was taking place in some polytechnics, while some others still awaited their own payments, lamented the total negligence of Federal Polytechnic Oko.
The chairman of ASUP, Federal Polytechnic, Oko chapter, Comrade Godson Okeoma
According to him, “We appear to be battling. However, a congress resolution has mandated the executive council to go meet with the polytechnic bursar to find out the position. There was no satisfactory response. We proceeded to the office of accountant general of the federation where we found out that the verification and payment had been on, but excluding our polytechnic.
“The list showed that Federal Polytechnic, Oko, has not been included as an institution that has suffered shortfalls in personnel releases. The implication is that we have been getting adequate personnel releases, but it is not true”, he said.
On why Federal Polytechnic, Oko, was not included on the list, the ASUP chairman said, “the accountant general of the federation, Ahmed Idris, alleged that there was no letter written by Oko, demanding completion or payment of the shortfalls.
“What this means is that we are suffering most often or shortchanged on the silly excuse of not writing a letter. If this is anything to go by, we, as an institution, will remain closed even if all the other conditions are met at the national level.
“I have the list of polytechnics not yet verified and their serial numbers. Under serial number eight where we have Federal Polytechnic, Oko, no amount was stated under amount column with the excuse of no audited valuation advice and promotion letters.
“This appears to be personal and as such, a separate industrial action or disharmony will be the option to fight this injustice bedeviling our institution”, he assured.
Okeoma further said that the institution was in total compliance with the nationwide industrial action to press home their grievances.
“We are in total compliance because every academic work is grounded, including examinations that were ongoing. Some enemies of the union wanted to use students to cause mayhem in order to blackmail us, but that was taken care of.
Maintaining that there was no going back on the strike until the demands of the union were met, the don revealed that none of the union’s agreements with the federal government in 2009 were met.
He said that this non-implementation of resolutions led to 11 months old industrial action in 2013/2014, which was eventually suspended by the then minister of labour, Mallam Ibrahim.
The union leader lamented that despite the long period given to the government to address some of the issues it raised, the government did not consider it necessary to address the demands for improved funding of polytechnic education in the country.
Recall that the president of ASUP, Mr. Usman Dutse, said that the union had given government sufficient time to implement all agreements, adding that they had no choice other than to embark on an indefinite strike after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum issued earlier.
According to him, “Some of the demands include non-implementation of the NEEDS Assessment Report, shortfalls personnel releases, and withdrawal of allowances, the condition of state-owned institutions and non-release of CONTISS (Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure), 15 migration arrears.
Others were; non-passage of the amendment bill of the Polytechnics Act, infractions in the appointment of rectors, continued victimisation of union officers, the dichotomy between the HND and B.Sc., among others.