Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has asked the sacked workers of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, to write a letter of appeal for a review of their disengagement within the next seven days.
The governor also committed to setting up a visitation panel to look into the series of allegations of harassment, corruption, and highhandedness leveled against the institution’s management by the striking workers.
Mr Sanwo-Olu was responding to a series of protests staged by activists, students, and workers of the institution over the lingering crisis rocking the school.
Since January 20, the non-academic staff of the Polytechnic have embarked on industrial action over issues bordering on what they termed a wrong implementation of the Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure (CONTISS) 15 migration, poor welfare conditions, harassment of both workers and students, among others.
Police had, at about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday allegedly arrested 38 members of the union who were on a sit-out protest in the campus. They were later charged to Ebute Metta magistrate court before they were remanded in prison.
The development had led to a protest staged on Friday at the government secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, by a group of activists under the umbrella of Socialist Workers and Youth League, and Centre for Policy Intervention in Africa.
The group had demanded the immediate release of arrested workers, dissolution of the school’s governing council and the sack of the Samuel Sogunro-led management of the institution.
Students of the institution had also, last week, held a rally at the office of the governor, calling on the new administration to intervene in the five-month-old industrial action in the school.
But, in a statement issued on Friday night by the governor’s spokesperson, Gboyega Akosile, the sacked workers were asked to send their appeal to the governing council with copies sent to the office of the head of service. He pledged to address all issues hindering progress at the 41-year-old institution.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, however, warned the staff of the institution to desist from fomenting trouble, saying his administration would not hesitate to wield the big stick against any erring worker.
The statement read; “By the powers conferred on me as Governor of Lagos state, I hereby order the constitution of a Visitation Panel to the institution to investigate all contentious issues and submit its recommendations for my consideration.
“The State Government, without prejudice to an earlier rebuff of its magnanimous gesture to re-consider the disengagement of some employees of the institution, is once again asking disengaged officers who are willing to continue their service in the institution to forward their letters of appeal to the institution’s Governing Council within seven days for a review of their disengagement. Copies of such letters should be duly endorsed to the Head of Service for an unbiased review of the process leading to their disengagement.
“Employees of the institution should note that they are under contractual obligation to perform optimally as stated in the terms of their employment. Any acts that are contrary to this shall be treated in accordance with the Public Service Rules, other extant regulations and the Labour Laws.”
Mr Sanwo-Olu said his administration appreciated the role a strong, dynamic and enlightened academic union is playing in entrenching culture of industrial harmony and development. He, however, said his government would not bend to blackmail and be hoodwinked by “a union that continues to carry out its agitations in a manner that threatens and is becoming inimical to the peace of the state.”
He assured that normalcy would be restored and sustained in the institution while ensuring the safety and security of all members of the school during and after the examination.
Also, earlier on Friday, the institution’s chapters of both the Senior Staff Association of Polytechnic and the Non-Academic Staff Union had issued a joint statement accusing Mr. Sanwo-Olu for giving the directive for their arrest of its members. It said the union would not be cowed by any amount of intimidation or harassment.
The workers said they were not demanding additional funding support from the government but that the available resources should be judiciously spent to cater for the needs of the institution, “and not as is currently being diverted to private pockets.”
The SSANU chairman, Abiodun Awoyemi, and his NASU counterpart, Semiu Fasasi, signed the statement.