LASPOTECH Workers Protest Arrests and Victimization of Leaders

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Implementation of the Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure (CONTISS II) released in 2009 is pitching the workers’ unions against the management in polytechnics across the country. This is as a result of refusal of managements to properly carry out the migration of workers on level 15 of the earlier CONTISS structure released in 2007, within the CONTISS II. In the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), this has led to a long-drawn strike.

CONTISS 15 migration is the movement of staff in tertiary schools from one salary grade level to the next level within the context of the CONTISS II package, once such workers meet certain conditions as stipulated by the National Board for Technical Education.

These conditions include, among others, that a worker must have been employed before August 1st 2009; must possess the basic academic or professional qualifications (or both) applicable to his/her competence, in addition to compliance with institutional policy; and must have also spent a minimum of two years on his or her current position before the year of migration.”

Attempts by the unions in LASPOTECH to dialogue with management towards securing their salary structure migration since 2016 were rebuffed. They thus embarked on strike action. decided to exercise its powers.

Management then swung the big stick of victimisation. Eight members of staff, majority of them union leaders, are currently facing trumped-up criminal charges bordering on attempted murder. They are Salami Olugbenga, Seye Ero-Phillips, Muinat Ogunbambi-Ibrahim, Semiu Fasasi, Abiodun Awoyemi, Alawada Abimbola, Tobi Oremule and Ayanda Rauf.

The eight workers were alleged to have attempted to burn two officials of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) who came on official assignment to the school ahead of the just concluded Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) with petrol.

LASPOTECH, just like many other tertiary institutions, was designated as one of the Computer-Based Test (CBT) centres, and the officers were on campus to ascertain the level of preparedness of the institution for the examination. The Divisional Police Officer of Sagumu Road Police Station was also on campus to with them.

According to Comrade Abiodun Awoyemi, who is the chairman of the local of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), they were invited last week by the police to their station and consequently detained.

Speaking further, he said:

We were even cajoled to go to the police station because somebody like me was not mentioned in the petition by the LASPOTECH authorities to the police. The petition was read openly with no ambiguity to all of us without mentioning names of about seven of us out of 10 people named. But since we are their leaders, we just said we should follow them to the Special Investigations Bureau office.

They said the invitation was on the order of the commissioner of police. That was how we were detained and taken to a magistrate’s court for trial. The case could not be heard on that day. It was on Wednesday, and we were granted bail; but because we couldn’t perfect all our bail conditions that day, we were taken to Kirikiri Prison.”

While the court case was going on at the Ogba Magistrate court, over a hundred workers rallied all day alongside renowned activists from Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) and the Joint Action Front. The workers argued that JAMB and Dr Sogunro, the LASPOTECH rector are collaborating to victimize workers. Speaking to Tribune correspondents after their release from Kirikiri prisons, Comrade Awoyemi said:

“The case is that of high-handedness on the part of our management and in connivance with the JAMB registrar, Professor Is-haq Oloyede. I believe we all know that Oloyede is noted for his dislike for anything unionism. He demonstrated that when he was the vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin. We should remember the Ilorin 49. So, we wouldn’t be surprised if he is colluding with our rector to tame the union. Our rector wants to turn himself to an emperor. Well, we are already in court, and our case has been adjourned to May 23rd.”

Socialist Worker solidarizes with LASPOTECH workers and commends their fighting spirit. We urge them to remain united and fight until victory is won. We also call on activists to start taking up Prof Ishaq Oloyede and his continual anti-unionism attacks. The commercialisation of the CBT/JAMB registration also shows the real interest of Oloyede and his cronies who never want more poor people to get educated.

SWL calls on the Lagos Police force to drop all the trumped-up charges against the eight workers’ leaders. They are not criminals and they deserve their rights to proper implementation of CONTISS II and other welfare needs.

by Kunle Wizeman AJAYI

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