ASUP Suspends 10-Month-Old Strike, Poly Lecturers To Resume Tuesday
Following the plea by the new Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, to striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics to suspend their strike as negotiations continue, the union has finally suspended its 10-month strike.
The union, however, noted that the strike was being suspended for a period of three months, after which it would reconsider its decision if the government fails to show good faith.
The decision to suspend the action came yesterday following an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council in Abuja.
ASUP President, Dr. Chibuzor Asomugha said that the union took the decision following pleas from the student body, from parents and in the interest of the nation.
"We also considered the plea by the substantive Minister of Education, to us, to allow him time to study the situation and act on it. The NEC took the decision to suspend it for three months while we watch what the government would do," he said.
All striking lecturers of all polytechnics across the country have been directed to resume work on Tuesday, he said.
Their counterparts in the Colleges of Education are also expected to suspend their nine-month-long strike next Tuesday after a planned intervention by the chairmen of Governing Councils of Colleges of Education.
At his assumption of office on Thursday, Shekarau had met with the National Executive of the Union and pleaded with them to shelve the strike as negotiations continue.
"Consider going back to the classroom while we are on these issues, we will tackle them with speed and alacrity, and gradual resolution of the issues combined would go a long way in resolving this matter," he had said.
Shekarau also agreed with the demands of ASUP that there must be common minimum standards in the establishment and running of polytechnics even where education is free.
"If government has accepted to pay a certain salary, then it holds the responsibility to pay from the agreed date. Getting the money to pay is another thing, but payment of salary is not a favour to anyone," he noted but quickly added that the problems in the education sector would continue to surface in line with contemporary challenges and development.
Asomugha at the meeting had presented a review of the issues in contention before the Minister.
Some of the issues include continued discrimination against HND holders in the civil service, anomalies in disbursement of intervention funds, non-establishment of a National Polytechnic Commission, and non-payment of arrears of migration to CONTISS 15.
Asomugha lamented that even though the union, in agreement with the government, picked four out of 11 issues for immediate resolution, only two of the four issues had been resolved.
"About two million students have been at home for more than 10 months now. We know this is a huge threat not just to the economy, but to the security of this nation," Asomugha said.
He also lamented what he said was the snail speed towards the review of the Polytechnics Act at the National Assembly, meant to set the institutions on the right path to development.