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Breakdown of industrial peace looms in polytechnics

The unions, in a joint statement said their attention has been drawn to a circular “FME/S/66/C.2/11/270” dated 26th January, 2015 emanating from minister of education’s…

The unions, in a joint statement said their attention has been drawn to a circular “FME/S/66/C.2/11/270” dated 26th January, 2015 emanating from minister of education’s office “suspending the implementation of CONTISS 15” in polytechnics without recourse to the “spirit and letters of agreement” with the unions in the sector.
The unions were on strike for the better part of last year due to government’s refusal to implement an agreement it reached with them about four years ago but in deference to pleas and assurances from the newly appointed Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, they suspended the strike last July.
“Unfortunately and sadly, six months after and despite repeated assurances in several meetings with the Honourable Minister of Education, what we get is the suspension of a statutory salary structure (CONTISS 15) approved by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, which implementation dates back to 2009,” the statement said.
 The unions lamented that “no reasonable progress” has been made on the other issues as promised, stating that the white paper on the visitations to federal polytechnics is still yet to be released five years after the exercise, discrimination against polytechnic graduates has heightened in the labour market due to non-removal of ceiling on their career progression and that the polytechnic sector is still being grossly underfunded.
They added that the National Polytechnics Commission (NPC) is still yet to be established, contrary to agreement reached and that not much progress has been made in the review of the Polytechnic Act, among other demands. The statement regretted that the Needs Assessment of public polytechnics has been abandoned nine months after the exercise was concluded and the report submitted to government.
“Disturbingly, the rot and decay in the polytechnic system on account of incompetent governance and administration deepens progressively as supervision appears extensively compromised,” the union said.
They called on the education minister to “without delay reverse the purported circular suspending the implementation of CONTISS 15.
 “We strongly caution that our goodwill should not be taken for granted. Failure to reverse this retrogressive and illegitimate directive will leave our unions with no other choice but resort to the last option. We also demand that all outstanding issues in our portfolio of demands be concluded forthwith without further delay to avert a completely avoidable breakdown in industrial peace in the polytechnics.”

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