Lecturers at Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo in Ondo State have commenced a strike over the refusal of the school management to pay their arrears.
The lecturers, under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), are demanding the payment of arrears accruing over N1.7 billion.
The polytechnic lecturers in the school said they are owed ten months of arrears and that promises made by the authorities to resolve the matter have not been fulfilled.
They are also demanding the payment of sixteen months’ worth of Consolidated Polytechnic Salary Structure (CONPOCASS) allowance.
A source in the school told SaharaReporters over the weekend that the union leaders have exhausted their strength in negotiations with the university authorities and were therefore left with no choice but to strike,
The source said the union leaders have also accused the management of the institution of being insensitive to the plight of the lecturers and staff members of the school.
The decision to embark on the strike was contained in an electronic statement issued by the ASUP local chapter of the school.
Adeola Obadaye, the General Secretary of the ASUP, signed the statement which was obtained by SaharaReporters on Sunday.
Mr. Obadaye said the leadership of the union held an emergency meeting on Thursday at the Adekunle Ajasin auditorium of the school and unanimously agreed on the strike action.
“We exhaustively discussed precarious situations of members’ welfare vis-a-vis the decision extract to the management dated the 9th of August 2017.
“It was therefore unanimously resolved that all academic activities are hereby suspended indefinitely with immediate effect, and without delay, the union will organize a press conference,” he said.
He added that union leaders had already put in place a monitoring team to ensure that the lecturers and members comply with the industrial action.
Speaking with journalists, ASUP Chairman Rafiu Ijawoye explained that the money owed to the lecturers includes sixteen months’ CONPOCASS arrears and 2015 and 2016 promotion arrears.
Mr. Ijawoye said all efforts to resolve the disputes with the school management and the state government have proved abortive.
“The inglorious state of neglect and deprivation of our legitimate demands have gotten to an unbearable crescendo. It is in view of these appalling situations that the union is constrained to embark on this total strike action as aforesaid. We demand as follows:
“Payments of our 16 months’ CONPOCASS arrears by the management of the Institution effective from July 2009 (It should be noted that all sister institutions within the state have been paid these arrears, aside RUGIPO);
“Payments of 10 months’ unpaid staff salaries for the months of June 2016 to January 2017 as well as July and August 2017; and payments of 2015 and 2016 promotion arrears.”
SaharaReporters learned that academic and business activities have now been paralyzed on the campus as students complained about the strike.
Some of the students, in a mobile chat with our correspondent, appealed to the school authorities to yield to the demands of the striking lecturers.
“Everywhere on the campus is now dry and many of us (students) have parked out of the hostels since the strike was declared last week on Thursday.
“Though, some students still stay behind, probably because they planned to spend the Sallah break with their friends.
“But as I talk to you, the hostels are now being shut down and the students have been asked to vacate the premises,” one student said.
In July 2017, the polytechnic lecturers of the institution threatened to embark on an industrial action over the refusal of the school management to pay their entitlements.
The lecturers had also vowed to disrupt the first semester examinations of the students if the authorities of the school refused to pay their backlogs of arrears.
Angered by the decision of the lecturers to down tools, the students of the polytechnic marched to the street to protest the industrial action.
SaharaReporters observed that the sum of N200 million was provided as subvention for the state polytechnic inside the 2017 budget signed by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.