From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Tension is brewing at Abia State Polytechnic (Abia Poly), Aba, following the decision of the governing council of the institution to sack about 200 more staff.
The 200 staff penciled down for sacking, when finally laid off, would bring the number to 500, the institution having sacked 300 of her workforce in September 2019.
An inside source told Daily Sun that an emergency meeting of the governing council of the polytechnic, presided over by the Chairman, Chief John Nwangborogwu, where final decision on the list of those to be sacked, was taken on Wednesday last week.
‘Last week, the polytechnic authorities in an emergency meeting, put finishing touches to all arrangements leading to the issuance of letters of retrenchment to the 200 affected staff,’ the source said.
The recent development it was gathered came as a result of severe financial crisis that has rocked the institution said to have high monthly wage bill of over N124 million.
When authorities of the institution sacked the 300 workers in 2019, they promised regular payment of salaries for the remaining staff; however, investigations revealed that the polytechnic is presently owing its workers about 23 months salary arrears.
It is not yet clear if the workers to be sacked, would be paid their 23 months arrears of salary or would go the same way as their earlier disengaged colleagues.
Another source in the institution informed that those to be affected by the planned exercise are staff who have put in between 20 to 25 years in service.
Others to be affected are those who have less than five years to be in service, adding that those with minor disciplinary records are to be sacked out-rightly.
The source further revealed that what was delaying the issuance of the sack letters to the affected staff was paucity of funds, as the institution is said to be presently cash trapped to pay the affected workers three months salary in lieu of notice.
Some of the academic staff who spoke to Daily Sun said, although they are on strike over accumulated salary arrears at the moment, they will not hesitate to take necessary action to challenging any anti-labour action taken by the school council and management.
‘National is aware, NLC and affiliate bodies are aware of our plight in Abia Poly. We know that they have concluded plans to sack 200 workers this week.
‘What happened in Kaduna will be a child’s play to what will happen in Abia Poly and Abia State,’ said a source who did not want his name mentioned in print.
However, defending the council’s decision, its chairman, Nwangborogwu, while addressing reporters, said: ‘We will like to properly put that we are not sacking persons unnecessarily. But that we are going to handle all irregularities in the way employment has been done here,’ he said.