Posted By: Abiodun Nejo ADO EKITI
•FG looking into the matter — Mgt
Only intervention from high quarters will save the gates of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti from being locked to academic and other activities again by the labour unions in the institution as from Monday next week.
The three labour unions – Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) and the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) – have at a protest in the campus last week, vowed to begin an indefinite action effective from Monday if the school management did not meet their demands.
They had, during the protest through which they shut down activities in the school while the action lasted issued a 14- day ultimatum to the Rector, Dr Theresa Akande led management to meet their demands to prevent the impending industrial action.
Their grouse, according to the three unions, are allegations of improper designation of over 500 workers; non-remittance of workers’ cooperative deductions; high-handedness, maladministration and misappropriation of funds; and other sundry issues bordering on their welfare.
It will be recalled that crisis over the issues last year led to shut down of activitiesin the polytechnic for six weeks following which an inter-ministerial panel was set up in May of the same year to look for a permanent way out. SSANIP Chairman, Dr Oluwole Ayeni, who said the grouse of the three unions, had been protracted issues since 2013 when some workers were employed with Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Scheme (CONTISS) 8 payment scheme.
According to him, the management in 2014 altered the payment scheme by reducing it from CONTISS 8 to CONTISS 7, citing certain circular from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Ayeni, who said it was in a bid to correct the alleged anomaly and others that the workers, after exploring all available channels since then, embarked on the 2015 action.
He explained that the workers sheathed the sword in 2015 following the inter-ministerial panel resolution which made the then Education Minister directed the management that status quo be maintained and the plea of the management to workers for consideration, thinking the situation would be redressed.
According to the SSANIP leader, the three unions had since December 2015, on realising that the management was “playing games with them on the issues” stepped up efforts to redress the alleged injustice through dialogues and ultimatums and even a four-day warning strike May 2016, saying the management “turned deaf ears to all these”.
Ayeni called on the Federal Government to set up another investigative panel to find lasting solution to the unending crisis, adding: “We appeal to the Education Minister, Alhaji Adamu Adamu; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige; and the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo; to wade in to save the situation.
“We are also reaching out to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and Department of State Service (DSS) on investigation of the school management on these allegations,” the SSANIP chairman said.
ASUP Chairman, Mr Tunji Owoeye, said the workers were protesting alleged injustice which he said they had been living with for several months.
Owoeye said: “We want to show the world that we are being marginalised. We will continue to protest until the powers that be would allow true policies to be adopted and used for a single system of the Polytechnic system in Nigeria.”
The ASUP leader, who said the starting point for senior staff at the institution is CONTISS 7, said: “What we are agitating for now is for the management to put us on the same level with our colleagues in other federal polytechnics at Yaba, Ilaro; Ile-Oluji, Auchi, and Ida, among others. All of them have their starting point at CONTISS 8.
“The policy we are agitating for is the implementation of the starting point of salary scale CONTISS 8 in the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti. It started when CONTISS 15 started in 2009 and only the senior staffers were answered, while CONTISS 11 down were marginalised and CONTISS 12 and above were promoted.
“We have taken steps. We have met the management several times about this. We have written letters of warnings to the management to implement this as done in other federal polytechnics. We have given 21 days notice and 14 days notice without any move by the management. We have also written our national body.
“Three unions – ASUP, SSANIP and NASU are involved in this. We are also alleging the management of fraudulent practices to the tune of several millions of naira. The issue of cooperative which we raised during our last protest in 2015, the management of this institution is still owing us about N200 million unremitted cooperative funds up till now and we have been keeping quiet,” he said.
Owoeye, who alleged that the management did not have listening ears while the alleged injustice was being perpetrated, stated that If sacking the Rector, Dr Akande, would be the solution to their problem, “we recommend that the Federal Government asks her to go.”
However, the institution’s Deputy Registrar, Information, Mr. Adeyemi Adejolu, who said the unions’ grouses were all old allegations packaged anew, said the Federal Government was already into the matter.
Adejolu, said the management was reluctant to react as the Federal Government decision on the allegation was being awaited, saying “the labour unions has petitioned the ministers, SSS, EFCC, ICPC and other regulatory agencies. And the government is looking into their allegations.”