Resumption of four Lagos State tertiary institutions were on Monday disrupted by strike embarked on by academic and non-teaching staff of the institutions over non-payment of new minimum wage by the state government.
Staff union of the state-owned tertiary institutions kept to their threat of embarking on an industrial action to press home the payment of the new minimum wage by the state government since 2019 as they mobilised their members for the action.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) directed workers of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), Noforija, Epe and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin to embark on the industrial action after a failed meeting with state government officials on Wednesday, September 9 which ended in a deadlock.
In a swift reaction to the ongoing strike, Special Adviser on Education to the Governor, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, decried the industrial action by the workers of the four tertiary institutions, insisting the state government funds the institutions adequately to cater for the needs of the staff.
The strike took another dimension as the staff unions of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo and Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), Epe, this morning locked the main entrance to their institutions disrupting academic and administrative activities.
Among those affected by the locked out include the Vice Chancellor of LASU, Prof Olarenwaju Fagbohun and his management team, final year students and bank workers.
At MOCPED, the staff unions locked the gate early in the morning. The Provost, Olajide Onibon and his management who were locked outside had to hold meeting with unions leaders in front of the gate.
While at the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, the workers complied with the directive to go on strike but did not lock the gate even as the union leaders were invited for a meeting with the management.
At AOCOED, members of the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) opted out of the strike while the congress of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) after congress on Monday asked its members to down tool in line with the JAC decision for workers of the four tertiary institutions in Lagos to embark on strike.
Chairman of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian (SSANU), LASU branch, Mr. Saheed Oseni confirmed that his members are on strike because of the inability of the Lagos State Government to pay them the new minimum wage since 2019.
Oseni said the gates of LASU were shut and the university management, students and bank workers couldn’t gain access to their officers and vowed to continue with the industrial action until the state government meet their demand.
Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of LASU, Dr. Ibrahim Bakare confirmed his members are on strike but the union recognised by the national body said ASUU does not go on strike without the approval of the national body.
A member of the recognised ASUU told Daily Sun that no local chapter goes on strike while the national body is prosecuting an industrial action, stating it is against our Constitution to go strike without the national body knowledge.
Chairman of College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), MOCPED branch, Mr. Jamal Apena revealed that the three staff unions on campus are on strike based on the directive of JAC.
Apena also confirmed that the Provost and other senior management staff couldn’t enter their offices because the main gate were locked by the protesting workers of MOCPED while students who reported for resumption were trapped at the gate.
At LASPOTECH, chairman of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), Mr. Oluseye Ero-Philips and Vice Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Mr. Salami disclosed that workers complied with JAC directive and are on strike.
Both confirmed that the management invited the three union leaders to a meeting which is still ongoing as at press time but did not shut the gate.
Recalled that union leaders of the four tertiary institutions met on Wednesday, September 9, with state government officials and discussion ended in a deadlock.
JAC says civil servant in Lagos State have been enjoying the new minimum wage since April 2019 and also got paid arrears same year.
Wahab explained that LASU receives N450million monthly from the Lagos State Government as Subvention, adding ”the government expects the institutions to also be responsible in the application of the funds and the staffing of the institutions. We must also have at the back of our mind that they have IGR which they generate and not accountable to government on how same is expended.”
He said aside the monthly subvention, the state government is also responsible for the infrastructural developments, which include the recently approved 8,000 plus bed hostel for LASU and other ancillary things including payment for accreditation exercise, that cost the government close to N500m.
”We expect that the management of these institutions pay up their staff salaries to avoid situations that looks more like deliberate sabotaging of the efforts of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration as we prepare for schools resumption this week, ” he added.