By Polycarp Auta
The Joint Union of Plateau State Owned Tertiary Institutions (JUPTI) has embarked on an indefinite strike over non-payment of five months salary arrears.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the action followed a letter dated Aug. 23 and signed by JUPTI Chairman and Secretary, Mr Paul Dakogol and Ayum Solomon, respectively.
The union, in the letter, gave government seven-day ultimatum within which the arrears should be paid or face the consequences.
NAN also gathered that the union had reached an agreement with the government who promised to pay the backlog of salaries before the end of 2016, but failed to do so.
NAN correspondent who visited the Jos campus of the Plateau State Polytechnic, reports that students were denied access into the school premises as the main entrance was under lock and key.
Mr Luka Panpe, Secretary, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Plateau Polytechnic Chapter, and a member of JUPTI, told NAN that the strike became necessary owing to the failure of government to keep to its side of the bargain.
He said the union had reached an agreement with government who promised to clear the salary arrears before the end of 2017, but failed.
“Our five months salaries was withheld because of the no work, no pay policy introduced by the previous administration. We took government to court in search of justice.
“But when the current government came on board, it pleaded with us to suspend our strike and withdraw the case from court, with a promise to pay us before the end of 2016, and we did.
“However, due to government’s failure to keep to its part of the agreement for the whole of 2016 and 2017, we again met with it in February. 2018. It promised to pay the arrears between April and July.
“We are now in September, and they haven’t said anything, and we have not seen any readiness that we will be paid soon.
“This is why we have decided to resume the indefinite strike that government earlier pleaded with us to suspend,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Yakubu Dati, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, attributed the failure of government to pay the arrears to paucity of funds.
“Government has tabled the five-month arrears for payment, but we couldn’t do it until now because of scarce resources at our disposal.
“The issue of workers emolument is a priority to this government, but we can only do that judiciously within the resources available to us.
“So, we want to plead and we will continue to plead with the union to exercise patience and return to work because soon, we shall put this matter to rest,” he said.