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Varsities’ unions to intensify strike

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Hope of early resumption of full academic work in the nation universities in 2018 have been dashed by the non-academic staff unions. 

The General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peters Adeyemi told The Guardian at the weekend that the Federal Government has failed to implement the tenets of the agreement reached with the non-academic staff unions last October. 

He added: “The strike is going on. The reason it is not pronounced is because of the yuletide period we are in. However, the strike action will go full speed as from January 2018.”

The three non-academic unions in the universities that include NASU, National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) are currently on strike over non-implementation of agreement reached with them last October by the Federal Government.

Adeyemi, who is also a deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), hinted that the only area that has been partially implemented so far is the payment of workers’ emoluments.  

He explained: “The only area we have seen some efforts even though a wrong one is in the area of personnel emoluments but has not even been addressed fully. There are still some universities that still pay salaries in percentages and arrears still pending. The understanding we had in October was that all these would have been cleared by now but that has not happened.”

Adeyemi also faulted the disbursement of funds by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

His words: “Government released N23 billion that they claimed was for both academic and non-academic. But we have found that that claim was wrong because when the money was released about 87% of it was for the academic staff.

For the first time in the history of university administration, we find a situation where Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was the one distributing the money in the manner they wanted. They did not allow universities’ bursars to play any role in it. ASUU sat with the federal ministry of Education and distributed the money.

For the first time it was a union that determined who to pay and who not to pay, percentage to pay or not. At the Universities of Ilorin and Nsukka, not a single kobo was ceded to them because ASUU argued that ASUU local branches in those two universities are not working with the national secretariat.

So, it is ASUU that now determines which university gets what. We are then very suspicious that something is fishing and not known to us. For us, we are telling government to give ASUU money to it and give our own to us because government has an agreement with us.”

Adeyemi noted that the Federal Government has indeed admitted to making mistake on the disbursement and has pledged to correct the anomaly.

On the strike action by workers in research institutes, Adeyemi said there is also no sign of early resolution of issues that led to the industrial disagreement.

The unions on strike in research institutes are: Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) and NASU.  

Adeyemi said the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, his counterparts in Labour and Employment Science and Technology are expected to raise a memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to give effect to the payment of the arrears, which is yet to be done.

While insisting that there is no need to raise a new team to verify what is owed the workers, the NASU Scribe noted that about N9billion was needed to pay the arrears as at four years ago and that institutes and unions have documentary evidence of the new figure.  



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