-Independent panel of enquiry must unravel truth about the scheme – Union
-State government directed implementation according to NBTE guidelines – Management
Rather than abating, the crisis of CONTISS 15 migration that has engulfed the Lagos State Polytechnic for some years now has continued to worsen by the day as members of the National Association of Staff Union (NASU), Lagos Polytechnic chapter, are now demanding for the sack of the Rector of the institution, Mr Samuel Segundo, and his management team for allegedly telling lies concerning the controversial CONTISS 15 Migration.
Members of the union are also demanding for an independent panel to handle the enquiry into the dispute to unravel the truth.
Comrade Semiu Fasasi, past chairman, NASU, LASPOTECH branch, in company of many of the union members spoke with THE IMPACT on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at the Ikorodu Town hall where they had staged a protest during the Town hall meeting by the APC Lagos East Senatorial candidate with residents of the Ikorodu division.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as, ‘LASPOTECH Workers Tired of Despotic Administration’ and ’Enough is Enough’, Sogunro Must Go’.
Among the demands of the union are; Reversal of CONTISS 15 Demigration after the migration implementation in October 2016, investigation into the finances of the Polytechnic, stoppage of administrative recklessness and the immediate sack of the management team and Governing Council.
Comrade Semiu Fatai, speaking, accused the Rector of victimization of staff members.
“Since the emergence of Sogunro led management, we have never had peace in the Polytechnic. He has been punishing members and reducing our salaries. In fact, some of us do not even have any salary to take home.
“This is a salary scheme that we got implemented in October 2016 but he has been desperate to reverse the implementation.”
He equally accused the management of flouting court order that asked the parties to maintain status quo on the matter.
“There was a court ruling that the status quo should remain which the union has complied with. Unfortunately, last January , Sogunro led management went ahead to reverse the implemented Migration scheme.
He stated that the action of the management has caused many of the institution’s staff members untold hardship.
“A lot of our members are now in debt. Many of us have now been placed on negative salary. Many of us have got loan from banks and cooperatives which we cannot repay because of the situation Sogunro has put us.
“He reduced our salaries to the extent that the debt that we are owing cannot even be deducted, that is why we are striking”.
Comrade Fasasi also alleged that the Rector has concluded plan to sack many of the staff members due to the trade disputes.
“Now, he has resorted to sack. He has vowed to sack as many as possible. We have the information that he has penciled down over 100 staff members for sack and we have seen 17 names out of those people . Out of these 17 names, four have been issued sack letters.
“We are not used to striking in LASPOTECH but since Sogunro’s emergence, he has been demoting and suspending us.
“He has been boasting that he has the approval of the governor, His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.
“What we are demanding is our right. He has been going around with wrong documents. In fact, he is the one that actually recommended the payment of CONTISS 15 Migration to the staff members”
Contrary to the management’s position that the reversal was due to mistake, members of the union stated that CONTISS 15 Migration, which came into effect in 2016, has been properly implemented.
“There was no mistake in what we did. It was implemented according to the document from NBTE. The last circular on CONTISS 15 Migration was issued on 2nd October 2013, unfortunately, he is using the one that was not approved because it was not accepted by all the stakeholders.
“He has been brandishing that and telling lies that the approved one is a wrong document. The last approval of October 13 even has all the conditions of the implementation of CONTISS 15Migration”.
The union leader called for the sack of the Rector and his management team and demanded for the constitution of an independent panel of enquiry to unravel the truth about the controversial implementation of CONTISS 15 Migration.
“We are now demanding that the management should be sacked. We are also requesting for an independent panel of enquiry to look into what the Rector is saying and our own position”.
LASPOTECH Management’s Position :
In a release titled, “LASPOTECH: THE FACTS ABOUT CONTISS 15 MIGRATION”, which was signed by the Deputy Registrar, Information and Public Relations, Mr Lanre Kuye, the management admitted that the controversial CONTISS 15 Migration has thrown the academic environment into turmoil.
“The agitation for the implementation of Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure (CONTISS 15) migration by the three Staff Unions is an issue that has thrown the Polytechnic Community into unrest since 2016.
“The CONTISS 15 migration is the movement of staff from one salary grade level to the next level provided the staff member meets the necessary conditions stipulated by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in Kaduna as listed below:
“a. Such staff member must have been employed before 1st August 2009.
“b. Such staff members must possess the basic academic/professional or both qualifications applicable to his/her competence in addition to compliance to Institutional policy.
“c. Such staff members must have spent a minimum of two (2) years on the current position before the year of migration”.
It was stated that the State government directed the institution’s management to implement the scheme under duress to prevent threat to lives and properties of the members of the management.
“The lawlessness of the three (3) Staff Unions and threats to the lives of members of the Governing Council along with the Principal Officers of the Polytechnic got to a peak during a session of the Governing Council’s meeting when the Council members were rounded up and locked up at the Board Room with threats to set ablaze the entire building with the members inside.
“Charms were freely displayed and urine poured on the heads of elderly Council members sent to appeal to them. Power supply was cut off and all members’ cars vandalised.
“Following these threats, the Office of the Special Adviser to His Excellency on Education, in order to save lives and properties, directed the Governing Council to implement the CONTISS 15 migration scheme in order to pacify the rampaging Union members that held the Governing Council members hostage for several hours.
The release stated that the implementation was later discovered to be faulty and that the continued agitation to pay the arrears placed big financial burden on the management.
“This implementation was on the terms presented by the three (3) Staff Unions which was later found to be defective.
“The faulty implementation of the CONTISS 15 started immediately in October 2016, notwithstanding, the three staff Unions continued to agitate for the payment of the 87 months arrears calculated to N1.7billion which was a financial burden to accommodate.
According to the management, effort to find out the truth about the scheme from NBTE proved abortive as 2-man team sent to Kaduna returned with conflicting reports.
“Management at this instance, sent two (2) members of staff to the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in Kaduna to seek clarification on the policy implementation of CONTISS 15 migration, specifically, a member of the Unions and another, a Deputy Registrar in the Personnel Department on behalf of Management.
“Ironically, the two gentlemen sent to NBTE returned with two (2) conflicting reports. The representative of the Unions came with a point to point movement implementation which was their position for October 2016 defective implementation, while the representative of Management insisted that the implementation was to be in line with the normal and usual promotional movement as it was done in 2004 when the Polytechnic implemented the Alignment of Nomenclature Policy of 1998 of Lagos State Government”.
It was stated that the Lagos State Government, through the Office of the Special Adviser on Education, intervened in the conflict by approaching NBTE directly.
“Based on the conflicting positions of the representatives, the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education wrote directly to NBTE, seeking clarification on the implementation of the said NBTE guidelines.
“The NBTE, in response, sent the policy guidelines directly to the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education (SAE).
“The Office of SAE sent the policy papers to the Governing Council and other relevant agencies of Government for consideration and recommendation.
“On receiving the NBTE document from the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, the Governing Council constituted a committee with representatives from Governing Council, Management and the three (3) Staff Unions to consider the document as directed by the State Government.
“At the said meeting, the Unions insisted that the Polytechnic should implement the NBTE CONTISS 15 Migration Guidelines holistically even though Management and Governing Council were not favourably disposed to this Union’s position for they believed that it should only be for Officers on CONTISS 11 downwards and CONTISS 12 upwards (where necessary) according to NBTE. To give peace a chance again, the Governing Council/ Management obliged.
“This position was part of the collective resolutions of the Governing Council, Management and the Unions that was later forwarded to the State Government for consideration and necessary approval in 2017.
It was alleged that despite the state government and the institution’s consideration for the unions, they still went on strike, a situation which the management claimed made the government to approach the court.
“The Unions at several intervals embarked on strike actions that disturbed the peace of the Institution. This forced the State Government to institute a court action against the Unions’ consistent strike actions”.
It was also stated that the intervention of the Lagos State House of Assembly was rebuffed by the unions.
“The State House of Assembly intervened at the Unions’ instance but they were impatient to wait for the resolution before embarking on their usual trade mark – strike action.
“They also waved off, in acts of arrogance and disrespect to constituted authority, the intervention of the high power Executive Council led by the Deputy Governor in the company of the Secretary to the State Government and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education”.
These actions of the unions, the institution’s management stated, forced the state government to direct the Polytechnic to implement the CONTISS 15 Migration based on the information from NBTE which is reversal of the October 2016 implementation which has been described as ‘faulty’ by the state government and LASPOTECH management.
“Having disregarded the interventions of the Deputy Governor’s team and that of the State House of Assembly, the Lagos State Executive Council proceeded to deliberate on the Governing Council’s presentation on the NBTE documents and released its decision which was communicated to the Polytechnic Management for implementation effective July 1, 2018 but was just commenced by the Polytechnic due to administrative inconveniences and court directive.
The Polytechnic, in the statement, also refuted the allegation by the unions that its members were being demoted.
“The Management hereby refutes unequivocally that no staff member of the Polytechnic was being demoted as claimed by the Unions”.
It was also stated that the Lagos State Government has resolved not to make the staff members pay back what the management described as “the previous payments made in error”.
“The State Government in an act of magnanimity overlooked all previous payments made in error since October 2016, to staff members involved in the migration scheme due to the defective position of the Unions before the approved implementation date of the State Executive Council”.
It was also stated that the management has put in place measures like, “immediate promotion of staff members that were due for the 2016/2017 appraisal year, immediate commencement of 2017/2018 appraisal, immediate implementation of annual increments from 2016 till date and payment of three months arrears of promotion to eligible staff members” to cushion the effects of the reversal of CONTIASS 15 Migration on the affected staff members of the Polytechnic