The Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) is flexing muscles over 11 months of unpaid salaries.
Its chairman, Ade Arikawe, told a news conference on the school’s campus on Tuesday that members could no longer discharge their duties on empty stomachs.
He said irregular payment of salaries had been happening in the school for over seven years, and efforts to address the issue were often fruitless.
“We have tried as much as possible to discharge our duties even in hunger. We have been doing this to suit and please Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, an indigene of Owo, so that his political opponents will not use non-payment of salaries against him.
“We have done enough, however, and we can’t wait any longer nor endure again. The struggle has been on for a long time, for seven years, actually. Without paying our salary arrears, we will not conduct examinations for students. The only language we want to hear is that our salary arrears have been paid,’’ Mr Arikawe said.
He said since the beginning of 2023, the institution’s academic staff had been paid only February salary and part-payment for March. He said the polytechnic owed more than N6 billion in workers’ salaries, promotion benefits, etc.
He added that it was also worrisome that the institution had refused to pay the financial benefits of staff promotion since 2015.
According to Mr Arikawe, the polytechnic suffers huge deficits in infrastructure, equipment, and teaching aids. He traced the perpetual delay in salary payment to the continual slashing of government subvention to the polytechnic since the administration of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Mr Arikawe said unpaid salaries had led to untimely deaths, avoidable ill health, broken marriages, humiliation and all manner of unimaginable living conditions by lecturers of the institution.
He said it was unfortunate that the government was claiming to have paid backlogs of salaries owed workers with the fate of the polytechnic’s lecturers being different.
On the planned conversion of the polytechnic to a university, the ASUP chairman condemned the setting up of a panel to execute the switch without involving ASUP.
Arikawe demanded that qualified ASUP members be allowed to migrate to the proposed university, as in some other states. He, however, commended the state government for reinstating some ASUP members sacked over unionism.