There are indications the strike would not be called off on Thursday.
The national executives of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, will meet on Thursday to review the ongoing strike and negotiations between the union and the Federal Government.
ASUP has been on strike since October 4, 2013. The union’s demands include the need for the constitution of the Governing Councils of Federal Polytechnics, the migration of the lower cadres on the CONTISS 15 salary scale, the release of the White Paper on the Visitations to Federal Polytechnics, and the need for the commencement of the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Polytechnics.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that recent negotiations have been positive between the leadership of ASUU and the federal government, and Thursday’s meeting would enable the union’s negotiating team to brief its executives.
A source among the leadership, who sought anonymity as he is not permitted to speak on the matter, said the meeting, which will hold in Abuja, will not call off the strike, but would review the negotiations.
The source, however, said the strike would be called off very soon, as the negotiations were more progressive.
When contacted, the ASUP National Publicity secretary, Clement Chirman, confirmed the meeting.
“We are meeting to appraise the level of negotiation and to also decide on the next line of action,” he said.
The intervention of the House of Representatives in the strike appears to have influenced the seeming progress in negotiations.
A meeting was held at the National Assembly on May 27 between lecturers and the government delegation led by the Education Minister, Nyesom Wike. The meeting was facilitated by the House Committee on Education.
At the meeting, Mr. Wike told attendees that the major contention of the workers, which is their salary arrears, was not being addressed because a government agency had raised concerns.
He said the Salaries, Wages and Income Commission was opposed to the payment of arrears owed the lecturers, saying it was not consulted before the 2009 CONTISSS agreement between the lecturers and the federal government was reached
“As the ministry made proposal to settle the lecturers’ arrears owed since 2009 in installments, the commission wrote to kick against the plan,” Mr. Wike said. “Government has been meeting on what to do, but the commission opposes the proposal I made to pay the arrears in installment.”
He also said a technical committee had been set up by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Pius Anyim, to review crisis. The lawmakers asked the committee to conclude its task in one week and to consult the lecturers in its deliberations.
Mr. Wike then assured the union that the Federal Government would resolve the on-going strike, saying it was deploying all means to reach an agreement with the ASUP as well as striking lecturers of the colleges of education, COEASU.