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Amid 13 Months Unpaid Salaries, Ondo Poly Mgt Suspends All Workers’ Union

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The entrance gate to Ondo State Polytechnic now Rufus Giwa Polytechnic

The imbroligio at the Ondo State-owned Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo (RUGIPO), took a new dimension on Tuesday with the management suspending all activities of Unions in the institution.

The recent suspension is that of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) and the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU).

The institution had few years ago suspended the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) for demanding for improved staff welfare.

The recent suspension, Precision Online Newspaper gathered may lead to massive protest by workers of the institution this week, in order to express their displeasure against the action of the school’s management.

It was also gathered that the two newly suspended Unions resolved to commence their earlier suspended industrial action on Wednesday after an enlarge meeting on Tuesday sanctioned it.

Both SSANIP and NASU had suspended the strike action in November, 2021 following a meeting between the management and the government.

Since the meeting that led to the strike suspension last year remained unfruitful, SSANIP in a letter dated 4th of January, 2022, communicated its decision to the Polytechnic authorities, saying “the congress-in-session resolves to resume the indefinite strike action suspended on Monday 8th November, 2021.”

Though SSANIP said it was unanimously agreed at its congress to the deduction of two percent as monthly due from membersʼ salary to the coffer of the union, but its members are languishing in acute pain over 13 months and 35% of salary arrears owed.

The letter which was signed by association’s Chairman and Secretary, Comrade Olowolade Chris and Comrade Ojo Akinyemi, respectively, urged the State Government and the RUGIPO management to consider the grouses of the union and do the needful.

In its response, the management, in a circular dated same 4th of January, 2022, suspended the Unions for “calling out its members to withdraw their services to the institution until further notice.”

In the circular signed by the Institution’s Registrar, Atiku Sule, the management said a meeting was held with the leadership of SSANIP and NASU on Monday, 3rd of January, 2022 over issues bordering on workersʼ welfare particularly arrears of salaries being owed and subvention arrears recently approved and released by the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to the Institution.

Related: Investigation: How 11 Months Salary Arrears Is Tearing Apart Ondo’s Only Polytechnic

It further said it was resolved at the said meeting that the released subvention be paid as follows: “35% balance for the month of January, 2021; 100% for the month of February, 2021; 100% for the month of March, 2021.

“And that the balances of 50% for June and 50% for July, 2021 as canvassed by the Unions be used to pay whatever percentage amount of the December, 2016 salary arrears as soon as it is received.

“This position of the Unions, is however, subject to the approval of Government that it be used in the defrayment of same.”

The management wondered why the Unions would still embark on strike despite the Monday’s meeting said, “activities of the union are hereby suspended forthwith” because the “development which constitutes an obvious threat to the peaceful and smooth-running of the Institution, coupled with the fact that it could lead to the disruption of the academic activities of the second semester in the 2020/2021 Academic Session and jeopardize the ongoing admission process of fresh students given the time frame of 30th January, 2022 for closure of admission portal by JAMB, as well as accreditation exercise billed to start on Monday 10th January, 2022”, it said.

In another development, a source hinted our correspondent that workers may converge at the main entrance of the school today (Wednesday) to protest against the suspension of both SSANIP and NASU.

The source who preferred not to be mentioned said the proscription has broken the fragile peace of the Polytechnic Community, adding that the workers won’t renege on their vow to protest what the source described as “deprivation of joy”

In a telephone interview with the SSANIP Chairman, Comrade Chris Olowolade, said “they are owing us salary arrears over 13 months and they said we cannot embark on strike that we should keep on coming to work?

“They have suspended the Union activities and the next line of their action is that they will suspend the Union leaders and those that are supporting the stand of the Union, and witch hunting of key members of the Institution which they have been doing since the inception of their administration. How can staff be coming to office when you owe them salary and you are still blaming them?”

When asked about the nextline of action, Olowolade revealed that: “if they want workers to resume; that suspension must be lifted first, let us come to round table, let us discuss how we are going to get the salary arrears, let them pay what they have because Mr. Governor is magnanimous to have released the subvention”, the Chairman said.

Additional report from SunshineTruth

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