The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has said it will not attend a meeting with the Federal Government scheduled for Monday, May 9.
The National President of ASUP, Anderson Ezeibe, in an interview with The PUNCH, explained that the four-week notice of strike, which the union gave the FG to meet its demands began on April 4, 2022 and ended on May 4, 2022.
ASUP gave the notice of strike because of the union’s unmet demands, some of which include the release the N15bn revitalisation fund to address the decay in infrastructure in the sector; and payment of the arrears of polytechnic employees following the approval and implementation of new minimum wage.
Ezeibe said ASUP would not attend the meeting because it did not meet the requirements of a proper collective bargaining engagement.
He said, “The ultimatum elapsed on the 4th of May, 2022. A meeting is purportedly scheduled for the 9th of May, 2022. However, our Union will not be attending as the purported meeting does not meet the requirements of a proper collective bargaining engagement.
“Our union will not dissipate energy and become complicit in wastage of public funds by attending such a gathering as the purported meeting is not structured to address our grievances.
“The gathering is at the instance of the Minister of Education and as already pointed out, ASUP will not be there as the gathering falls significantly short of collective bargaining procedures and processes. The conveners of the meeting have been duly notified of our position.”
He revealed that the National Executive Council would meet during the week to take a decision over government’s refusal to act positively on their requests.
He stated, “ASUP organs will be meeting on the 10th and 11th of May 2022 in Abuja to take a decision, following the expiration of the ultimatum and refusal of concerned agencies and functionaries of government to attend to the issues in dispute. The Council of National Officers will meet on the 10th, while the National Executive Council will meet on the 11th. The decisions reached at the end of these meetings of our union will be communicated to the public.”
He told the Nigerian public to hold the government responsible if public Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology in the country were shutdown.
“The Nigerian public, including students and parents, should hold the government responsible for any shutdown of public Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology in the country. Specifically, the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning as well as Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment have individually and collectively failed to live up to their responsibilities to the nation.
“The Federal Ministry of Education has consistently failed to execute decisions reached with our union and has refused to appropriately act in respect of the approval of the president for release of revitalisation funds for the sector. The same ministry is the author of the confusion and arbitrariness now seen in the appointment of principal officers in polytechnics while at the same time supervising multiple infractions on the provisions of the Federal Polytechnics Act,” he said.
Ezeibe complained about the Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning’s refusal to release arrears of minimum wage owed ASUP members for over two years.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning has outright refused to release arrears of minimum wage owed our members for over two years despite the completion of documentation in this regard. Same ministry has continued to effect third party deductions from our salaries without remitting same to beneficiary organisations.
“Efforts to address this with the Honourable Minister of Finance have been frustrated as she and her subordinates have refused to meet with our Union.
“The Federal Ministry of Labour has failed to organise conciliation meetings as expected of them despite receiving our letter of ultimatum more than one month ago. The position of the government through these agencies/functionaries is unfortunate and a disservice to Nigeria.”