The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has insisted that it will continue with the ongoing strike until government meets its demands.
Speaking with our correspondent, the ASUP President, Chibuzor Asomugha, who lamented the discrimination in the nation’s education sector, said it was wrong for the government to treat polytechnics issues with disdain.
“Their thinking that it is only the children of the poor that attend the polytechnics is wrong,” he said.
Asomugha noted that due to promises made by the Federal Government to the union, it suspended its strike on July 16, 2013 for one month. But the lecturers resumed strike on October 4 after the government failed to respect the pact.
Stressing that the situation was getting out of control, he said the union was embarrassed by the insensitivity of the government concerning the place of polytechnic education in the nation’s development.
“There is no mitigation for this level of insensitivity by government; we are approaching the acme of desperation on this matter,” he added.
Despite sacrifices made by the union to reduce its demands from 13 to four at a meeting with the government, Asomugha said, government had respected only two of the issues.
He said, “Since we resumed the strike on October 4, 2013, we have met with the government officials twice, both times with the ministers of labour and education.
“At the first meeting, we signed a memorandum of understanding in which government expressed a commitment to resolving the core issues. At the second meeting, the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, gave assurances which were documented and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. MacJohn Nwaobiala. These assurances were with regard to core issues which government on its own accepted to resolve.
“At the outset, we brought 13 issues to the negotiating table. Sequel to the intervention of the Joint Committees of Education of the National Assembly, we acceded to government’s offer to extract four of those issues which both sides identified as core to the dispute and which government accepted it could resolve without much complication. Since then, government has been able only to reasonably address two of those issues.”
Asomugha said the government had only inaugurated the governing councils of six polytechnics that were omitted in the first schedule and raised the Needs Assessment Committee while it refused to implement others.
He said the government had failed to address the discrimination and career ceiling against polytechnic graduates in public service; the migration of the lower cadre on the CONTISS 15 salary scale; the release of the White Paper on the visitations to the polytechnics, failure of most state governments to implement the approved salary packages for their polytechnics, and the 65-year retirement age.
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