Again, LASPOTECH Unions Declare Indefinite Strike, Call For Rector’s Removal
-We can no longer trust him, SSANIP, NASU
-The management needs state govt’s approval for payment, says PRO.
Kunle Adelabu & Femi Oduwole.
There seems to be no end in sight to the disagreement between the management of the Lagos State Polytechnic(LASPOTECH) and its chapters of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP),Senior Staff Association Nigeria Polytechnics(SSANIP) and Non Academic Staff Union(NASU)as the three unions, for the umpteenth time, declared an indefinite strike over what they described as the failure of the school management to meet their demands.
Speaking at a joint press conference by the three unions held at Origin Garden, off Oba Sekumade Road, Ebute, the Chairman of the ASUP,Lagos State Polytechnic chapter, Comrade Akinrinola Ibitoye, on behalf of others, declared an indefinite strike action and blamed the Rector of the school, Mr Samuel Sogunro, for the action.
The unions had about three weeks ago called off an indefinite strike after the intervention of the Governing Council of the school and gave the management a three weeks ultimatum to meet its demands or risk total strike action.
“The indefinite industrial action being embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of the Polytechnic is the end result of the Rector’s misadministration and insensitivity to the issues that affect the welfare of staff in the Polytechnic Community”, Comrade Ibitoye declared.
“We would like to place on record that the on-going industrial action is avoidable. It is as a result of the management of the polytechnic reneging on the previous tripartite agreement reached on March 7, 2017 by the administration, Council, officials of Ministry of Education and the Staff Unions of the Polytechnic, to commence the payment of CONTISS 15 migration salary arrears before the 25th convocation ceremony of the Polytechnic held on March 9, 2017” ,he alleged.
The union chairman accused the management of reneging on the agreement with the unions: “The Unions further reached an agreement with the Council on 25th May, 2017, giving 21 days window for the payment of CONTISS 15 Migration salary arrears and the resolution of other issues which the polytechnic administration and the Governing Council also reneged upon.”
“Furthermore, at the congress held on April 20, 2017, the Deputy Rector(Academic) who represented the Rector at the meeting, said that ” the administration had saved Three Hundred and Forty – Three Million Naira (N343,000,000) only as at April,2017,and are only waiting for the approval of the Government to commence implementation.” This amount could pay sixteen (16) months arrears at the first instance.
Debunking the position of the school management that it requires the Lagos State Government approval before payment, the union leader stated: “The Union is however aware that the approval of the Council is enough for the payment of the arrears since it could be paid from the funds within the coffers of the Polytechnic.”
They also expressed disappointment at what they termed as inability of the officials of the Ministry of education to keep to the agreement reached with the unions.
“The Union is at a loss on why the officials of the Ministry,who were parties to the tripartite agreement on March 7, 2017,are now singing a different tune. The Union is also disappointed that officers of the Ministry, whom we hold in the high esteem and respect,cannot keep to an agreement mutually agreed upon by the three (3) parties. The unilateral decision of the officials of the Ministry to pay only six months of the arrears is against the earlier agreement.”
Aside the CONTISS 15 Migration, the unions also tabled other demands for peaceful reslolution with the management. Apart from the non – implementation of the agreement, the Union further demands, henceforth,as follows:
“The law establishing the Polytechnic is being constantly violated by not allowing the Governing Council of the Polytechnic to function effectively because of the obvious connivance between the Polytechnic administration and the officials of the Ministry. The authority and the power of the Governing Council consisting of a broad spectrum of stakeholders, inclusive of the officials of Ministry of Education,is clearly spelt out in the Polytechnic enabling Law of 2012 as follows:
- Section 4, Subsections 1 and 2; “There is established law for the Polytechnic Governing Council (referred to in this law as the Council) which shall be the governing authority and be charged with the general control of the policy, finance and property of the Polytechnic.” And “…the Council shall manage the affairs of the Polytechnic in such a manner as it deems fit to promote the interest, objectives and functions of the Polytechnic’’.
- Section 8 Subsection n: “The Council shall regulate the salaries/emoluments and determine the condition of service of all staff employed by the Polytechnic”
These violations includes but not limited to:
- The Polytechnic being administered by the officials of the Ministry and the Rector bypassing the Council and reporting directly to the officials of the Ministry is against the Law of the Polytechnic and an aberration. This abnormality should be stopped immediately.
- Implementing a new senior staff condition of service without the input from the staff unions is unacceptable.
iii. Failure of the administration to divulge to the Council the true financial position of the Polytechnic (see attached).
The union also kicked against the employment of armed soldiers which they stated could caused breakdown of law and order if something urgent is not done.
“We observed with dismay that the Polytechnic administration recently procured arms and ammunitions to the tune of over Ten million Naira and also hired within the institution “AWOL” (Absent Without Leave) Armed Soldiers numbering over fifty (50) and member of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) numbering over twenty (20) with charms and amulets, after the industrial unrest of October, 2016. We believe that the State Security is unaware of such development which to say the least, could lead to breakdown of law and order, loss of life and properties. Despite the militarisation of the school, life and properties are still not safe. For instance:
“The electric armoured cable close to the third gate of the institution was stolen twice, Konsult office burgled, Procurement office burgled, Alumni office burgled., Office of the School of Part Time Studies Evening (SPTSE) burgled with millions of Naira both in cash and properties carted away. Smoking of Indian hemp beside the office of Chief Security Officer (CSO) is a common scene etc. The above ugly incidence leaves one to wonder the essence of the engagement of these so called security officers.” The unions alleged.
They therefore called for the removal of the armed men allegedly stationed on the campus at exhorbitant cost.
“The Union pleads that these “security forces” be withdrawn from the campuses immediately.”
The unions also alleged that the school Rector is engaging in activities that are capable of totally disturbing the peace and harmony among the teaching staff and the students by inciting some students against lecturers.
“This morning, 7th June, 2017, the union was set aback by the move made by the polytechnic management led by Mr. Oluyinka Samuel Sogunro inciting the students against the Staff Unions, a move we considered as barbaric and undemocratic. An executive member of the Union- Comr. Adewunmi Alfred Olorunfemi was badly injured, his wife beaten to stupor by Sogunro Soldiers and the Union bus was vandalised”, they alleged.
The three unions at the briefing also demanded among others, the immediate commencement of the arrears of CONTISS 15 Migration, payment of pensions, review of the disbursement of TETFUND fund and stoppage of inappropriate payment of promoted staff among others.
“We demand the immediate commencement of the payment of the arrears of CONTISS 15 migration. Kindly recall that the tripartite agreement signed by the Officers of the Ministry, Council, administration and the Staff Unions during the week of the last convocation ceremony is due for implementation before the convocation award ceremony. The Rector even announced to His Excellency, the Governor of the State, that he had paid the arrears, when the reality suggests otherwise.”
“We humbly plead with the Council to assert its authority and powers vested in it under the Laws of the Polytechnic 2012. We further plead with the council to direct the administration and supervise the payment of the arrears.”
The following were suggested by the unions as options for payment of the controversial arrears of the CONTISS 15 Migration:
“The agreement on March 7, 2017, signed by the representatives of Council, administration, the Unions and officials of the ministry i.e. Six (6) immediately after the convocation ceremony and the next phase in December, 2017, while the outstanding is to be negotiated between the Unions and the administration.
“The immediate payments of sixteen months (16) arrears based on the availability of Three Hundred and Forty – Three Million Naira (#343,000,000.00K) only from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Polytechnic as announced by the Rector and corroborated by the Deputy Rector (Acad.) While the outstanding of Seventy-one months (71) will be paid within a maximum period of two (2) years.
“Eighty Seven (87) months of arrears be paid at once”, the unions stated.
Also that: “The Polytechnic administration should make available practical consumables necessary for effective learning by the students. These students are made to pay Ten thousand Naira each per session for practical and, for EED all students are made to pay Three thousand Naira each into an account they (administration) called third party account, compulsory payment of Five Thousand Naira by all students per session for ICT of which the requisite software are not deployed, only pirated software which is bad for the image of the Polytechnic.”
“The union condemned the use of security operatives such as state CID and NS&CDC to harass and arrest union leaders.”
“Stoppage of payment of pension to Pensioner, since April 2016, is worrisome. It is the view of the union that the pension issue be speedily and specially addressed. Because, it is the union’s view that they all (pensioners) have paid their dues in the system. Furthermore, we have it on good authority that many of the elderly, who had hoped to collect their entitlement by themselves, are dying and many have become vulnerable due to depression. We suggest that a percentage of their monthly pension be paid to them to ease their burden pending the determination of their issue before the state government”, they suggested to the management.
“Members who are on three years study leave with pay were bonded for nine(9) years contrary to the maximum of five (5) years bond period as contained in the condition of service, and outright stagnation of promotion for the same period of their study.”
“Inappropriate placement of promoted staff despite an agreement signed by the administration and the Union.”
“The Union is aware that TETFUND grants are not judiciously spent. Some ‘anointed’ staff are given such fund to attend international conferences but never did. Moreover, the disbursement of such money is based on favouritism and ‘man-know-man’ policy.”
“Removal of 4% annuity on pensions bond and the late payment of bond to the PFA of retired colleagues should be addressed urgently and Non remittance of contributory pension scheme as and when due”, they tasked the management.
The unions also accused the Rector of paying himself monthly emoluments while refusing to pay them salary since April.
“We wish to bring to the notice of the Governor that while the administration refused to pay us April salary, which we have worked for, the Rector had during the industrial unrest paid himself his monthly emolument and in addition, another sum of 6million naira to prosecute this crisis.”
The unionists also alleged that the Rector unilaterally closed down the school against the laid down procedures.
“Furthermore, the Rector has unilaterally closed down the institution for one week without following the laid down procedure. This is contrary to section 23 subsections 1and 2 of the Lagos state Polytechnic Law. We further observed that the Rector, instead of engaging the unions in a robust negotiation to arrest the industrial unrest, is aggravating the crisis for his selfish benefit.”
Conclusively, the protesting academic and non-academics staff of Lagos State Polytechnic under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), LASPOTECH Chapters, appealed to the governor of the state, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode,to as a matter of urgency, intervene in the dispute before it gets out of hands and also see to further development of the school by executing educational projects.
SSANIP Calls For Rector’s Removal
While the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), LASPOTECH Chapter,led by Comrade Akinrinola Ibitoye,is yet to consider change of leadership as a demand, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics(SSANIP) has demanded for the removal of Mr Samuel Sogunro as the Rector of Lagos State Polytechnic.
Comrade Adeyemi Abiola Thomas, Chairman ,LASPOTECH SSANIP, in an interview,called for the removal of the Rector as a prerequisite for lasting peace on the campus.
“Aside our major demands for implementation of CONTISS 15 Migration, we are also demanding for the immediate removal of the Rector.
“Our demand is not just the payment, but also that the Rector must go. We had warned that if we are forced to move out to protest like we are doing today, (Wednesday, June 7, 2017), we are going to demand for his removal.”
Members of SSANIP and NASU at 10.40am started procession from the Ikorodu campus of the school after the confrontation of the students with the soldiers.
Led by their chairmen, the two unions protested in an orderly manner through the School First Gate marching through the Shagamu Road, Sabo, Ikorodu Garrage. Ayangbure Road to the Ayangbure palace to submit a letter of protest to HRM Oba Kabiru Shotobi, the Ayangbure of Ikorodu.
The staff were seen chanting solidarity songs within the Ayangbure palace premises,carrying placards with inscriptions such as, “We appreciate Gov Ambode for good governance and proper funding of LASPOTECH”, “We demand the immediate payment of CONTISS 15 Migration salary arrears” and “We demand the immediate sack of the Polytechnic Rector- Mr Samuel Sogunro Olayinka for maladministration, anti-staff welfare and nepotism among others.”
While reacting to the protest by the unions, the PRO stated that the school cannot pay without the approval of the state government.
“It is still same agitations and demands that have been on for a while, but the truth is that we(Management) cannot pay the staff without the approval of the state government. As soon as we get the approval, I can assure you that the management will go ahead and do the needful.”
On the alleged sponsoring of cultists to molest some lecturers by the management, Mr Kuye denied the allegation. “That cannot happen on our campus. The management and staff have fought against cultism in all ramifications and we cannot stoop so low to do that level.”
“This is just a disagreement among members of academic community and there is nohow we can go to the extent of employing the services of the outlaws to settle differences. We are building refined students for the labour market; professionals that will be contributing to the economic development of the country and the world and not thugs”, he stated.