By Faith Maji

THE Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP has concluded an arrangement to embark on an indefinite industrial action on 6th April, 2021 across the country until the union’s demands are made.

The union in its 99th National Executive Council, NEC meeting held at Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic, through its President, Anderson Ezeibe, in a media briefing with journalists on the status of engagement between them and government in Katsina state, recalled that the Union issued a 15-day ultimatum to the government in March 2020 outlining several issues bordering on the culture of neglect by the government on issues affecting the technological education subsector with specific instances were cited in the refusal of the government to respect the provisions of the ASUP/FGN agreement of 2010, non-payment of salaries in some state owned institutions, non-payment of the 10 months arrears of the new minimum wage to its members in Federal Polytechnics.

Comrade Anderson specifically mentioned that, the shutting down of the global economy due to the impact of COVID-19 precipitated a suspension of the proposed action as the professional competencies of the members formed part of an indispensable pool of resources in the fight against the pandemic.

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“The gradual opening up of the economy in the later part of the year led to further decisions by the Union to put its action on hold and therefore providing the government with more than ample time to address the issues raised and reverse the negative trajectory in the growth indices for the sector.

“Unfortunately but true to character, the government has maintained its culture of neglect of the sector leading to fresh issues in addition to the unattended ones outlined above”.

He noted that it has formed the basis of the discussions during the 99th NEC meeting of the Union’s National Executive Council.

According to him, the emergent issues include: non-reconstitution of Governing Councils in Federal Polytechnics and many state-owned institutions as against extant provisions of their respective establishment laws, noting that the impact of the act of impunity is seen in the non-conclusion of staff appraisal activities for the previous year and non-appointment of principal officers among others.

“Plans by the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct over nineteen billion Naira (N19Bn) on the pretext of recovering purported Pay as You Earn tax liabilities from 19 Federal Polytechnics. Our Union views this attempt as dubious, painted in different colors of impunity and capable of further pauperizing our members. The claims are unverified, unreconciled, offensive to extant laws and therefore unacceptable to our members who have diligently and over the years been bearing the brunt of unacceptable tax regimes with little or no social benefits from political leadership in their respective states”.

The union leader also includes, poor regulatory and standardization policies in the appointment of unqualified persons as Rectors and other principal officers in public and private Polytechnics among other demands which he said if not made before the expiration of April 6th, 2021, the country should expect or face a total shutdown of Polytechnics in Nigeria.

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