By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has suspended its plan to embark on nationwide industrial action over its dispute with the federal government.
In a statement issued yesterday by the President of ASUP, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe, the union said the move was due to the overriding national interest and to enable its members join other Nigerians in the effort to check the spread of COVID-19.
The union said that it has encouraged its members nationwide to play complementary roles to the extent of the deployment of their professional competencies as well as participating in safe community’s efforts in the fight against the COVIC-19 pandemic.
The union explained that its grievances were borne out of the inability of the government to keep to agreements entered into with it since 2010 as well as the avoidable shortcomings associated with the payment of February 2020 salaries in Federal Polytechnics in the country.
It said that its 97th National Executive Council meeting had resolved to embark on an industrial action after the expiration of the 15 days ultimatum, which was issued March 18, 2020.
“However, our union is concerned at the prevailing but unacceptable rate of the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic across the nation and its debilitating consequences on our national life and indeed humanity.
“Moved by the overriding need to collectively focus on and arrest the growing spread of this scourge in our nation, the union has resolved to:
“Put on hold its proposed industrial action in deference to overriding national interest and humanity to resume at a more auspicious period,” the union said.
The union said that some states owe its members as much as 17 months’ salaries arrears.
It also alleged continued “victimisation of the union’s officials in some institutions; non release of the agreed revitalisation fund in lieu of the anticipated implementation of the NEEDS Assessment survey report for public Polytechnics since 2014, non conclusion of the renegotiation of the union’s 2010 agreement with the government, violations of extant provisions of the Polytechnics Act (2019 Amendment) by governing councils of some polytechnics, unilateral suspension of the rapid response committee by the Federal Ministry of Education leading to the non release of promotion arrears since 2017, non release of arrears of CONTISS 15 migration for the lower cadre and non release of the reviewed scheme of service and conditions of Service for Polytechnics amongst others”.
The union accused the government of insensitive to these issues over the years and had continued to demonstrate such attitude as seen in the delay in the release of March 2020 salaries of its members.
“By so doing, government has unwittingly encouraged the declaration of this impending strike action by our union,” it stated.