The National Industrial Court (NIC) on Friday rejected an ex parte motion by the Lagos State government to stop its workers at the Lagos State Polytechnic from continuing with their ongoing strike.
The government has, however, ordered the workers to resume work in the interest of the students.
The workers proceeded on indefinite strike on August 1.
The suit filed against the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) and Non Academic Staff Union (NASU).
The NASU chairman, Semiu Fasasi, told Morning Mail that the court declined to grant the ex parte prayers of the government, on the ground that the processes before the court could not justify the urgency requested.
It, therefore, adjourned further hearing to August 15.
Fasasi said that the strike continues, adding that all matters concerning the action had been lodged with the national headquarters of the union for further directive.
The Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, in a statement on Friday, said that the government had since October 2016 held discussions with the three unions based on their request that the Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure (CONTISS) 15 Migration Scheme, developed in 2009 by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), be implemented with payment of the accruing 87 months’ arrears, computed to the tune of N1.7billion.
According to him, in the intervening months since the matter was first brought to the attention of the government, deliberations had been carried out through the Governing Council of the school and related MDAs specifically Ministries of Establishment, Training & Pension, Public Service Office (PSO), and Economic Planning & Budget to ensure that the matter was properly addressed.
Bank-Olemoh added that the State’s Ministry of Education also reached out to the NBTE to ascertain the exact provisions and mandate of the CONTISS 15 SALARY Migration Scheme noting that the response was that the demands of the unions were not in line with the provisions set out by the NBTE in 2009.
He wondered that despite the fact that a copy of the report, dated July 14th, 2017, was sent to the Governing Council of the Lagos State Polytechnic and circulated among the three Staff Unions, they had maintained their stance in asking for payment in arrears from 2009, and called for a strike.
Besides, Bank-Olemoh said the government was committed to entrenching stability in the State’s tertiary institutions and that regardless of the ongoing economic challenges across the country, it had continued to prioritize the funding and carrying out major infrastructural projects at State tertiary institutions in the past year, and recently increasing monthly subventions of all State institutions, with no arrears owed.
He appealed to the three Staff Unions of Lagos State Polytechnic to apply fair judgment and consider the students of the institution, particularly those in their final year who would be adversely affected if they are not allowed to take their final exams.
“All members of Staff and Students are further advised to continue with their lawful activities on and off campus, as the State Government will continue to pursue all necessary steps to ensure peace, stability and security in the Polytechnic.
“In this regard, all staff are hereby directed to resume work without further delay, while the management should monitor compliance and report same to the Ministry of Education,” Bank-Olemoh said.
However, the workers who issued the strike notice had declared that the action would “remain indefinite, total and comprehensive” until their demands were met.
The notice said the unions resumed their suspended strike due to a failure by the institution’s management to meet their demands in spite of a month grace given.
According to the notice, the Lagos State Government had intervened in the strike by the unions through the House of Assembly Committee on Education and that was why it was suspended then.
“Congress had unanimously resolved that the committee that was to be set up by the House Committee on Education to find a lasting solution to the issues of migration arrears be given till 31st July 2017.
“Failure of which the union will resume its suspended strike without notice.
“It is rather sad to inform you that after the committee has identified substantial amount to pay 12 months as the first tranche, the management turned in a document from National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) to truncate an already laid process for payment,’’ it said.
According to the notice, the same authentic documents which the union presented to the press on the migration arrears are the same the management now mischievously flaunt to foot-drag and frustrate all resolutions on the payment.
“The flaunted documents, if allowed to fly, will cause more harm than good. It is going to affect us all from number one person to the least cleaner and this we have warned them about.
“As it stands, dear comrades, if by 12 midnight, the 12 months arrears in the first tranche is not paid, the strike will resume on Aug. 1; it is indefinite, total and comprehensive,’’ it said.