By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State Government has intervened in the crisis between the management of the state-owned Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, and industrial unions, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnic (SSANIP) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), over planned strike and salary arrears.
Leaders of the industrial unions had issued notice of strike after a meeting with the management on Monday where modalities to defray part of the salary arrears were taken for onward approval of the state government.
The planned strike led to the suspension of the unions’ activities in the institution by the school management to prevent disruption.
Apparently dissatisfied by the development in the institution, the state government conveyed a meeting between the management and leadership of the unions where peace agreement was reached.
At the roundtable meeting in Akure, three major agreements reached include, payment of three months salaries, lifting of suspension on unions’ activities and maintenance of peace in the interest of students of the institution.
Answering questions from journalists after the meeting, the Special Adviser to Governor Akeredolu on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr Dare Aragbaiye said the state government waded into the matter to restore peace and stability back to the institution.
He said two months and 35 percent out of the salaries owed the workers have been paid and urged the management to immediately lift the suspension placed on the unions’ activities, while the leadership of the unions should suspend the planned strike.
He also lamented the precarious financial situation in the country occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that government was thanking outside the box to meet its financial obligations in the interest of workers and the state.
The Rector of the Polytechnic, Mr Gani Ogundahunsi explained that the face off between the unions and the management came when the management could not pay the salaries of workers due to the economic constraint experienced in the country.
He appreciated Governor Akeredolu for coming to the aid of the institution by resolving how to clear the salaries, saying that two months and 35 percent salaries have since been paid while arrangements were on to pay more.
Also, the Chairman of SSANIP, Mr. Chris Olowolade and his NASU counterpart, Mr. Obayori Ade – Adebayo, appreciated the visitor of the institution and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for his timely intervention.
They equally confirmed the alert for two months and 35 percent salaries.