By Victor Ahiuma-Young
EVEN as academic activities in the nationâ€™s universities are yet to pick up because of a recently suspended two-week warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), workers of the nationâ€™s Polytechnics and their Colleges of Education counterparts, have givenÂ strike notices to government over unpaid benefits and related welfare issue.
While the poly workers, under the umbrella of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Related Institutions (NASU), could begin a national strike any moment from now as their ultimatum to government expired on May 31st, their counterpart in the Colleges of Education gave June 18, 2009, notice.
The grievances of the NASU members in both polytechnics and Colleges of Education included alleged unwillingness of government conclude the re-negotiation of the year 2001 FGN/NASU agreement for polytechnics sector, non-payment of 24 months arrears of monetisation of fring benefits, absence of a national commission for Polytechnics, minimum wage and double deductions of workers salary into the contributory pension scheme.
NASU members in the nationâ€™s Polytechnics in a communique at the end of a recent meeting in Bauchi, Bauchi State, signed by Comrades Chris O Ani and Augustine Ageva, Chairman/Deputy President and Senior Assistant General Secretary respectively for NASU in the Polytechnics and other Trade Group, among others said:
â€œ The Council-In- Session expressed worry that this issue (monetisation) has been unduly delayed by the Federal government, despite the understanding shown by the affected unions.
The council therefore calls on the government to pay all the arrears on or before the 31st of May, 2009 since the much awaited 2009 Budget has been passed into law, failing which the union will take every legitimate steps to press home this demand.â€
As the benefits and other demands are yet to be met after the expiration of the ultimatum, the leaders of NASU in the Polytechnics, Vanguard gathered, have begun mobilisation of members across the country for a possible show down with government.
On the other hand, NASU members in the Colleges of Education in a resolution at the end of their meeting held in Yobe state, signed by Comrades JM B Khirims and Tunji Carroll, Chairman/Deputy President and Senior Assistant General Secretary respectively for Colleges of Education Trade Group Council of NASU, read in part:
â€œThe Council-In-session noted with dismay that despite the number of correspondences, resolutions forwarded to government and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) on the need to resume the process process of re-negotiation of the year 2001 FGN/NASU Agreement which was abandoned since July 2007, government and its agency rebuffed NASU.
The Council-in-session therefore resolved to emberk on a day peaceful protest in all colleges of education and allied institutions against the refusal of government to conclude negotiation with NASU as well as to press home demands on other relevants outstanding grievances of members inn the affected institutions on Thursday June, 18, 2009.â€
At the time of this report, all the 104 Federal Government Colleges otherwise known Unity Schools have remained shut for close to three weeks now by the workers because a number of unresolved grievances.