The polytechnics lecturers are worried over prolonged strike.

Almost a year after they embarked on an industrial action, polytechnics and colleges of education lecturers have lamented that very little progress has been made in resolving the issues they raised.

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic commenced an industrial action in October 2013 to press home their demands, which includes the formation of a commission to regulate the activities of the polytechnics.

The lecturers also demanded the migration of the lower cadres on the CONTISS 15 salary scale, an end to the dichotomy between university and polytechnic graduates in terms of job placements and career progression, among other issues.

The refusal of the Federal Government to implement an agreement reached in 2010, poor infrastructure development in colleges of education, poor funding, non- release of the white paper on visitation panel reports, and imposition of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System were other reasons for the strike.

But after almost a year of insisting on their demands and months of not being paid, the lecturers have indicated a willingness to reach a compromise for the sake of the students and the country at large.

In separate conversations with our correspondent, the striking lecturers said they were concerned about the quality of education being handed over to their students, saying that polytechnics needed to be empowered for global relevance.

They explained that contrary to the view that their demands were only centred on their salary, the welfare of their students while in school and after graduation was very important to them.

Moreover, they stressed that establishing a regulatory body in place of the National Board of Technical Education would be a step towards improving the conditions of polytechnics.

A senior lecturer at the Yaba College of Technology, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The truth is that the industrial action is getting prolonged and we pity the students including the Nigerian populace as a whole. Nigerians think that basically our demands are on salary alone, but that is not the main reason.

“We are talking about the technological advancement of a nation. When the institutions are not well-equipped, how do you want them to reach that level?

“Some of us that have the opportunity to travel abroad for one seminar or the other have observed that some of our colleagues are considered mediocrities because of the kind of platform that exists there that does not existing in our country and we feel bad.”

The lecturer explained that because polytechnics were established mainly to enable Nigerians acquire adequate technical knowledge, there was the need for them to be taken seriously.

According to him, while it is okay for the technical colleges to be under NABTE, polytechnics needed a separate body because they cannot function under a regulatory body for vocational education.
A lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Kabir Lawal, lamented that for the past nine months, none of their (the lecturers’) demands had been met.

Lawal stressed that the demands were mainly centred on equal recognition for both polytechnic and university graduates and having a polytechnic commission.

He said, “I am not aware of any part of the demands that is being met. The polytechnic commission will make us independent. Also, we should not be under Nigeria Board of Technical Education.

“The board regulate polytechnic, technical schools and colleges of education.
This is not supposed to be. Autonomy should be given to polytechnics the same way it was given to Nigerian universities because “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”

The spokesperson of ASUP, Osun State Polytechnic of Technology chapter, Mr. Agboola Ishola, said the lecturers were willing to shelve the strike if some of their demands were met.

He said, “Assuming we have six demands, if three are met, we would be all right; four out of six is also all right. We don’t want our students to become rogues; therefore, we want to resume work.

“The Federal Government itself is an entity and the workers an entity, that is why we want to reach a compromise. When we have a dialogue at the end of the day we want to ensure that our demands are met.”

Agboola, who said government had not paid the striking lecturers for the past four months in order to dissuade them from continuing the strike, warned that the strategy would not work.

Besides the general demands by the lecturers, he said certain issues were peculiar to OSPOTECH such as failure of government to make contributions to the pension scheme for years.

He said, “For the past four years, only lecturers are contributing to the pension contributory account, while the government have not made its own contribution.

“Yet, every month our money is being deducted. We have told them to stop deducting our money until the government makes its own contribution, but nothing has been done about it.”

While many of the lecturers have warned that they will not be bullied into calling off the strike, some are worried that it has lasted for a long time.

The Journal Teacher’s Education Secretary, Sam Adeyemi College of Education, Mr. Faniyi Kayode, said, “Right now, it has been agreed that the strike should continue till further notice.
“(But) I am not satisfied with the current situation because we have not been paid since the strike started; we don’t have any other business apart from this job.”

The Federal Government recently set up a committee to look into the demands of colleges of education in the country to award degree certificate as applicable in the universities.

As the committee goes about its work and with a major breakthrough yet to be achieved with regards to meeting the demands or reaching a compromise, some lecturers are beginning to lose hope and the will to stay away from work.

The Academic Staff Union Of Polytechnic, ASUP and The Colleges Of Education Academic Staff Union, (COEASU) Embarked On an indefinite strike to press home the implementation of their demands from the federal government since October 4, 2013 and December 18, 2013, respectively.

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