The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has said it will shelve its proposed strike to support the fight against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
The ASUP President, Mr Anderson Ezeibe, said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Ezeibe said that the union’s 97th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting had resolved to embark on industrial action after the expiration of a 15-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government over its inability to meet up with agreement entered with the union.
He said that the 15-day ultimatum took effect on March 18 and expired on April 3.
“Consequent upon the inability of the government to keep to agreements entered into with our union since 2010 and the avoidable shortcomings associated with the payment of February salaries in federal polytechnics, our union’s 97th NEC meeting had resolved to embark on industrial action.
“This was after the expiration of a 15-day ultimatum issued with effect from March 18 and which expired on April 3,” he said.
The ASUP president listed the key aspects of the dispute with government to include avoidable shortcomings in the deployment of the IPPIS payment platform in polytechnics with February salaries, against the union’s understandings with the responsible agency of government.
Others, he said, were non-payment of salaries in some state-owned institutions in the country, with some states owing members as much as 17 months’ salaries as well as continued victimisation of the union’s officials in some institutions.
Ezeibe also mentioned other issues as non-release of the agreed revitalisation fund in lieu of the anticipated implementation of the NEEDS Assessment Survey Report for Public Polytechnics, since 2014.
“Non-conclusion of the renegotiation of the union’s 2010 agreement with the government; violations of extant provisions of the Polytechnics Act (2019 Amendment) by the governing councils of some polytechnics.
“Unilateral suspension of the rapid response committee by the Federal Ministry of Education, leading to the non-release of promotion arrears since 2017.
“Also non-release of arrears of CONTISS 15 migration for the lower cadre and non-release of the Reviewed Scheme of Service and Conditions of Service for Polytechnics, among others,” Ezeibe stated.
He also explained that government, through its agencies, had remained insensitive to the issues over the years and had continued to demonstrate such attitude as seen in the delay in the release of March salaries of its members.
By so doing, Ezeibe said that government had unwittingly encouraged the declaration of the impending strike by the union.
He, however, said the union was concerned about the prevailing but unacceptable rate of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation and its consequences on the national life and indeed, the humanity.
The ASUP president also said that the union was moved by the overriding need to collectively focus on and arrest the growing spread of the scourge in the country.
“The union has, therefore, resolved to put on hold its proposed industrial action for the overriding national interest and humanity, to resume at a more auspicious period.
“We encourage our members nationwide to play complementary roles to the extent of deploying their professional competences as well as participating in safe community action efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also want to encourage our members to observe the required safety protocols, as prescribed for this challenging period and beyond.
“While our union has decided on this path of patriotism, it is expected that government will provide the enabling environment to ensure an all-encompassing and sustainable victory against not only the COVID-19 pandemic but also against other similar diseases ravaging our country,” he said.