Implement CONTISS 15 migration and pay full salary arrears NOW!
On Friday 12 July, Lagos State government released a statement concerning the ongoing industrial action in the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH). The statement was after a protest march from Allen Junction to Alausa. The demonstration was organised by the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL), Workbond International Network (WIN), and some Civil Society Organisations, with LASPOTECH workers. The protesters demanded the immediate release of the LASPOTECH 38 and implementation of the CONTISS 15 migration.
In the statement, the state governor, My Babajide Sanwo-Olu informed that a Visitation Panel has been set up to investigate the state of crisis in the institution. It also asked workers who had been sacked as a result, to appeal through the Head of Service (HOS). This is too little too late. SWL demands the unconditional reinstatement of all workers disengaged as a result of the contrived crisis in the polytechnic.
Equally we want to remind Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu that his first duty as the Governor of the state is to uphold and respect the rule of law and fundamental human rights especially when it has to do with rights in workplaces. Similarly, the workers whose interest have been undermined by the management of LASPOTECH under the leadership of Mr Samuel Sogunro and by extension previous Lagos State Administration, have the right to embark on strike and protests to drive home their demands.
We thus condemn the subtly coercive threats to the workers by the Governor. Similarly, the continued militarization of the institution and armed repression of the workers is an assault on human rights and democracy, which the Governor should respect. The demands and the struggle of the LASPOTECH workers is about the lives of thousands of workers who are subjected to hardships and precarious work for the private and selfish gains of a few.
The primary demand of the workers is the implementation of the CONTISS 15 migration. Earlier under the administration of Dr Abioye A. Lawal as the rector, a committee chaired by Mr Samuel Sogunro recommended the CONTISS 15 migration. Also, the management received the sum of N57 million from the government to kickstart the salary scheme migration, as contained in the report of the Sogunro-chaired committee.
Mr Samuel Sogunro has sacked some workers and demoted many others. Workers whom earlier earned N100,000 now barely take home N8,000. And some don’t even get paid anymore. Clearly these are genuine concerns to the workers.
We find Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s appeal to the Management and Governing Council of the institution appalling and insensitive to the workers’ plight as citizens with democratic rights. This pat on the back is meant to boost the confidence of Mr Samuel Sogunro and thus embolden his tyrannical management of LASPOTECH.
There is manifestation of such insensitive boost in confidence when on Monday 15 July, the management opened registers at different departments to witch-hunt workers that are standing on the position that they will disobey any order to resume work until their colleagues are released and all charges against them dropped. Meanwhile, earlier last week, Mr Samuel Sogunro threatened that he’ll make sure the arrested workers will not be released till after the semester examinations.
We urge the Lagos State government to address the real issues behind the LASPOTECH workers struggle. At the root of the LASPOTECH workers’ struggle is the underfunding and misappropriation of funds by the anti-workers and anti-students management of the institution.
The workers are more concerned and committed to the smooth running of academic activities in the institution. Heeding their legitimate demands would expedite resumption of academic activities. So, it is important for the Lagos State government to address the substance and stop chasing shadowy effects if truly concerned about the interest of the students, at least.
We commend the students for taking action to ensure the Lagos State government intervenes to address the lingering crisis. We urge the students to advance the struggle with demands for adequate funding of public education, including for LASPOTECH. That implies the students must stand and fight by the workers to ensure management and government comply with their demands.
Lastly, we urge the visitation panel to expedite its work. The report of its investigation should be out within two weeks for a quick resolution of the crisis. We also demand the unconditional reinstatement of the four victimized union leaders; an end to militarization of the institution of learning; and immediate implementation of the CONTISS 15 migration with full payment of all due arrears.
by Lai BROWN