Workers lock out poly rector

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Members of two staff unions of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, in western Nigeria have begun an industrial action over non-payment of some allowances, that have accumulated over 60 months.

Yesterday, they locked out the Rector of the institution, Mrs Theresa Akande and other staff.

The unions are the coalition of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnic (SSANIP) and Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) of Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti.

The action came barely a week after the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the Polytechnic staged a protest that paralysed academic activities in the institution.

The protesting workers locked the main gate of the institution and forced the staff to park their vehicles at the gate and trek almost a kilometre into the campus. They also threatened to unseat the rector.

Addressing newsmen, Mr Monday Jegede, the National Secretary of SSANIP, criticised the alleged `hard stance’ of the rector on the payment of 60 months’ arrears of industrial Field trip allowance to the workers. He also criticised the Rector for depriving the workers of their duty and hazard/high risk allowances despite the directive by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) that they should be paid.

Jegede directed that no worker should be allowed to resign his or her membership of the union during the industrial action.

However, the Rector of the institution, Mrs Theresa Akande debunked the allegations, saying the Federal Government had not approved the payment of these allowances.She said that she had been prudent in the management of the institution’s lean resources and dispelled the allegation of financial recklessness levelled against her.

Akande said the Minister of Education had informed her that the Federal Government does not have the budget to pay 60 months arrears of the workers’ field trip allowance as demanded by them.

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She, however, promised to enter into further negotiation with the protesting workers to enlighten them on the institution’s true financial status.

However, Mr Ade Adeniyi, the NASU chairman, denied Akande’s claims.

He said the payment of the allowances had been approved but not effected due to the alleged `insensitivity’ of the Rector to the plight of the staff.

Adeniyi flaunted a circular dated Oct. 12, 2011 and signed by the NBTE Executive Secretary, Mr Sheriff Sanda to corroborate his claim.

He criticised the Rector and other management staff for embarking on `incessant overseas trips’ and turning round to claim that the Polytechnic was not financially buoyant to pay their allowances.

Buttressing Adeniyi’s claim, Mr Aderemi Ojo, the leader of SSANIP, alleged that members of the union promoted since 2010 were yet to be paid their entitlements.

He urged the workers to resist the management from deducting more than 7.5 per cent of their basic salary to the pension fund as prescribed by Pension Act 2004.

Ojo said the management erred by deducting same from the total allowances of workers.