By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) and the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASUI) have embarked on an indefinite strike pending when Governor Udom Emmanuel will resolve issues affecting their members’ welfare.
The action which began on Tuesday has affected normal academic activities in the Polytechnic as the striking staff barricaded the gate of the institution at Ikot Osurua to stop entrance to the place by anybody including visitors.
The unresolved issues which had lingered on for about five years according to the striking staff, include 65 years retirement age for non-teaching staff, non-payments of promotion arrears from 2014 to 2017 and full refund of 7.5 percent contributory pension funds deducted from their salaries after the scheme had been abolished in the state through an Act following some discrepancies recovered from the scheme.
When contacted, the chairman (SSANIP) Mr. Emmanuel Ekpo said the industrial action was the last option, after the unions have exhausted all legitimate ways to resolve the issues amicably with government.
According to him, “it is painful to see that other states in the country have implemented the 65 years retirement age for non- teaching staff as approved by the federal government and the state.
“We have had both written several letters to the state government, hold meetings with the Head of Civil Service, the Commissioner for Education and Governing Council of the institution since 2011 concerning the implementation of two different schemes of service in the institution; namely – the 1989 scheme of service for Federal Colleges of Education and Federal Polytechnics, The revised schemes of service for NBTE, polytechnics and other similar tertiary institutions.
“The non-refund of 1.5% contributory pension funds balance; The non-payment of peculiar allowance to qualified non-teaching staff based on 19th December, 2011 agreement between Akwa Ibom State Government and the Unions/Association operating in the state owned tertiary institutions; and the non-implementation of 5 years single tenure of office for principal officers in Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua.”
Efforts to speak with the Rector of the Polytechnic, Mr. Israel Affia on the matter were not possible as his cell phone while filing this report was switch-office.
Meanwhile, the strike has affected normal academic activities in the polytechnic as students found at the school gate expressed have frustration and displeasure over the action.
To remedy the situation, the students of school have appealed to Governor Udom Emmanuel, the Commissioner for Education, the Head of Civil Service, the Governing Council and the Rector of the school to resolve whatever pending issues they have with the staff of institution.
It is gathered that, the strike action over the grievances by staff of the institution has become a yearly ritual with its negative effect on the academic progress of students as the strike disrupts the academic calendar.