The Journey of 331 Days: ASUP Strike Reaches a Session- Three hundred and thirty-one days-longer than an entire academic session; this is how long the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP has been on strike.
After a seven-day warning strike, the union embarked on a full-fledged strike on April 29, 2013, protesting Government’s refusal to honour a 13-point agreement made with the union in 2009. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, also embarked on its own strike on July 1, 2013 for similar reasons. The ASUU strike would go on for six months before a truce would be reached with the government.
ASUP on the other hand, seemed to have reached a compromise, as on July 10, 2013, the strike was suspended. Polytechnic lecturers went back to their classrooms as a result of the Federal Government’s promise to handle four of the 13 issues in the agreement within two weeks.
These include: release of the White Paper on Visitation to Federal Polytechnics; the completion of the constitution of the Governing Councils for Federal Polytechnics; migration of the lower cadre on the CONTISSS 15 salary scale; and the commencement of the needs assessment of Nigerian Polytechnics. ASUP gave the Government a month. Nothing was done. This eventually elapsed into three months, culminating in the union’s continuation of the strike on October 4, 2013.
When ASUP held its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting last week, hopes were up that the issues will soon be resolved in view of the intervention of the National Assembly. However, that was not the case as ASUP-NEC, refused to call off the strike just yet. The Coordinator of ASUP Zone D, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe told Vanguard Learning that the different ASUP chapters will carry out a referendum this week, and convene for another NEC at Yaba College of Technology next week.
The NEC meeting will also take into consideration, the results of what stakeholders believe might be the ‘final intervention meeting’ with the National Assembly to hold on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. The June 24 meeting will also include the demands of the striking Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, whose members are also expected to attend. Relevant stakeholders such as the ministers of Education, Labour and Finance, as well as representatives from the salaries and wages commission are also expected to attend.
“We hope that the issues will finally be resolved at that meeting,” Ezeibe said. “What we are looking out for now is for the ministerial committee involving the release of the White paper to be set up, as well as a definite proposal as to payment in respect to the CONTISS 15 migration. We would also like to draw up an agreement including the non-victimization clause so that the salaries being owed will be paid. We are not even saying that the moneys must be paid before the strike is called off, but let Government tell us when the money will be paid. We are being very liberal about this; it is not a difficult situation, but a test of Government’s commitment. Let it be put in writing, and let the relevant parties sign.” (Vanguard)