Without  salary for nine months, workers of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic in Owo, Ondo State, are threatening to go on strike. The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) said its members could no longer work under the present condition, asking Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to come to their rescue.

ASUP Chairman Comrade Rafiu Ijawoye, who spoke exclusively with CAMPUSLIFE, said the academic staff had been going to classrooms on empty stomachs. He deplored a June 28 memo issued by management, apologising for the delay in the payment of June salaries.

He condemned a statement credited to the Governing Council Chairman, Mr Banji Alabi, that all workers’ salaries had been paid up to May 2018.

Ijawoye said the workers’ union viewed the claims as “a calculated attempt to misinform the public and governor of Ondo State” of the true situation of things.

The only salary paid to workers, Ijawoye maintained, was that of January, 2018. He said the outstanding salaries included October to December 2016, January 2017, February to June 2018, as well as the cooperative deductions for June to September, 2016 and April to May, 2017.

He said no fewer than 10 academic staff members had died, adding that some union members were on admission at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owo.

Ijawoye explained that many sick lecturers, did not have money for treatment.

He said: “Academic staff, who are important part of the school’s workforce, are dying slowly. We have lost no fewer than 10 members of the union to the cold hands of death. Several members have been sick, but there is no money to take care of them since they are being owed nine months arrears of salary and other remuneration.

“Many lecturers have been thrown out of their residences due to inability to pay their rents. Others can’t feed their families, even many trek from their homes to teach student in class and also trek back home after fulfilling their daily assignemnt.

“These members of academic workforce are dying of hunger and this is why we are appealing to Governor Akeredolu to come to our aid to save us from death and starvation as stomach infrastructure is very important.”

Ijawoye said the union would meet to discuss the next line of action if the school failed to pay them.

He listed other agitations to include non-accreditation of some of the school’s programmes.

The programmes, he said, could be denied accreditation because of non-payment of the school’s subvention.

He said: “We are witnessing decaying infrastructure in the school, while ongoing projects are being abandoned. There are also inadequate lecture rooms, acute shortage of accommodation and non-availability of seats in lecture theatres. There is hopelessness in the school and this is also being felt by other state-owned institutions whose monthly subventions and other financial benefits are not provided.”

Ijawoye described the suspension of the three workers’ unions in the institution as illegal.

ASUP, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (NASUP) were suspended following members protests. The protesters allegedly barricaded the school gate, chanted anti-management slogans and carriedplacards with various unrpintable inscriptions.

Ijawoye said the school displayed “constitutional illiteracy” when it denied members of the unions’ freedom of association.

Efforts to get the school’s reaction failed.

At the office of the Rector Mr Idowu Ologunagba, our repoter was turned back by a worker, who claimed the helmsman was not ground.

The school’s Director of Public Relations and Protocols, Mr Ojo Samuel, he declined comment.

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