Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the habitual absence of the Minister of Education at negotiation meetings to find a lasting solution to the strike actions of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) which have been on for the past nine months and six months respectively
On June 24, a National Assembly committee called the meeting to mediate between the government and the two unions but the Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation were absent.
The ASUP has narrowed down their demands from 10 to 2 and apparently willing to call off the strike had it been that the Government representatives were at the meeting.
The committee called the meeting following the failure of the government to end the industrial crisis despite the protests by both unions and affected students in Abuja and Lagos, which were violently repressed by the police.
This attitude of the Minister of Education has further shown the insincerity of the government to meeting the demands of striking unions and end industrial dispute
The Minister of Education has at several occasions alleged that the strike actions are politically motivated arguing that the demands of the staff unions have been met. But this is a blatant lie to instigate Nigerian students against the striking unions. For five months the strike had started the minister of education didn't take any practical step to meet the demand of the striking unions.
This is a Minister that was on the government team that went to Brazil for the World Cup despite the ongoing strike by the staff unions.
ASUP is demanding the implementation of CONTISS 15 Migration for the lower cadres in the polytechnics and the release of the White Paper on the visitations to federal polytechnics more than one year after the exercise. The strike is also over the failure of the government to commence a Needs Assessment for polytechnics. The union is also demanding an end to the HND/B.Sc dichotomy. ASUP has been on strike since October 4 last year.
We in the ERC encourage the ASUP and COEASU leadership to be steadfast in their struggle. The ASUP and COEASU should continue to popularize their demands with students and the public. We also welcome the decision of the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) to stage a mass protest on Tuesday July 8 to force the government to meet the demands of the striking lecturers in order for schools to be reopened.
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)