[Photo: Entrance of the Plateau State Polytechnic, Jos locked, Tuesday morning by striking workers]

JOS NIGERIA: Workers of Plateau State owned tertiary institutions have shutdown operations over 'unexplained' government deductions and other entitlements.

The institutions began an indefinite strike, Tuesday demanding among others, 'immediate' payment of "Academic Relief" othetwise known as 'subventions' which have allegedly been withheld since 1999.

Most of the institutions according to the Chairman, Joint Union of Plateau State Owned Tertiary Institutions, Mr. Paul Dakogol have survived through Tertiary Trust Fund (TeTFund) interventions.

"Most of the infrastructures you see in the State tertiary institutions are funded by Tetfund and not all the institutions are scheduled to benefit from such interventions," he said in a telephone interview.

The union leader was particularly pained that despite failing to lend support in line with its "statutory obligation", government had 'withheld' certain percentages from the institutions' entitlements, making them hard to run.

"The implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is completely unacceptable to us.

"The centralized revenue system is fine but the deduction of up to 25% from students' school fees which are mostly used for the running of the institutions without any explanation is illegal as far as we know because we have not seen any letter from the Federal Government directing such," Mr. Dakogol said.

Other unexplained deductions as hinted by another Union leader, Mr. Simji Lompye include  "Recovery" and "cooperative" contributions. 

In a telephone interview, Mr. Lompye said, "Since March 2018, some deductions have been made from the salaries of workers under the claim of 'recovery' and we wonder what they are recovering.

"Aside of the 25% TSA deductions, as a result of which our students have not been able to go for excursions for 2years now, the government has also withheld our cooperative society contributions for months now.

"This is in addition to the 7% academic staff allowance and 5% peculiar academic allowances it is supposed to have been paying us as other tertiary institutions in the country but has failed."

Mr. Lompye who is the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic also said the government was owing the Union's retired members 24 months pension arriers.

The two union leaders however said they were willing to direct their members to resume work if government would show some commitment to their demands.

Efforts to speak with relevant government officials on the matter proved abortive as of time of publishing this report.

However, the Plateau State Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Sonni Tyoden was said to have summoned an emergency meeting with the Union leaders.