By LAJU ARENYEKA
Hopes that the striking Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, would go back to classrooms after yesterday’s scheduled meeting of the lecturers with the Joint Committee of the National Assembly and other stakeholders have once again been dashed.
This was because the meeting was postponed till end of the month following the absence of relevant ministers.
Yesterday’s meeting was reportedly fixed about two weeks ago, following cries from parents, guardians, students and other stakeholders in the sector that students of polytechnics have lost over a year, following alleged insensitivity of the relevant authorities to the plight of the students.
ASUP has now been on strike for 337 days, while students of colleges of education have remained at home since last December.
A stakeholder from the COEASU camp, who spoke on the botched meeting, told Vanguard: ‘’We were already at the meeting this afternoon when we were informed that it had been adjourned.
“Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, his counterpart in the Ministry of Labour and productivity, Emeka Wogu, and other key government officials, were absent.
“Other relevant government agencies expected at the meeting were the Minister of Finance and representatives from the Salaries and Wages Commission. Because of their absence, the meeting has been adjourned to Tuesday, July 1.’’
ASUP had at its National Executive Council, NEC meeting two weeks ago, expressed hopes that the issues at stake will soon be resolved in view of an earlier intervention of the National Assembly.
COEASU sources believed that yesterday’s meeting would be the final intervention to settle the grievances of the unions.
In an earlier interview, ASUP President, Dr. Chibuzor Asomugha, had expressed optimism that the meeting would see “the Federal Government making a legitimate commitment to funding CONTISS 15” among other issues.
— ASUP, COEASU
In an earlier interview, ASUP President, Dr. Chibuzor Asomugha, speaking on his union’s expectations for yesterday’s now adjourned meeting, had said: ‘’We expect the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility by, among other issues, making a legitimate commitment to funding CONTISS 15 and setting up a committee to look into other issues when the strike is called off.
“But nothing is beyond our expectation as far as the meeting is concerned.”
For COEASU chairman, Mr. Asagha Okoro, the meeting would have been a productive one if it had led to “the release of the white paper of the NEEDs assessment carried out on colleges of education; the full implementation of CONTEDISS salary structure and the establishment of a committee to address other issues even after the strike is called off.
“We know that all these issues cannot end in one day, but the other issues cannot be overlooked and must be solved expeditiously. This is why the establishment of such a committee is very important.
“The strikes by COEASU and ASUP have gone on for too long, but we believe that this time, government will be reasonable.’’
Both unions were set to hold emergency NEC meetings at their different levels to relay the outcome of yesterday’s meeting, and then decide whether or not to end the protracted strikes.