FG-ASUU crisis: ‘No-work-no-pay’ affecting negotiations – Minister
Indications emerged Thursday that the insistence by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), that they must be paid six months’ salaries during the strike period is what is affecting negotiations between it and the aggrieved lecturers in an apparent allusion to the “no-work-no-pay” policy of the government.
Specifically, the government on Thursday insisted that it will not kowtow to the whims and caprices of the members who are demanding the payment of the backlog of salaries withheld over the ongoing strike, saying the decision will serve as a deterrent for their needless actions.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had rejected it outrightly when he presented the report to him.
Adamu, was categorical when he appeared during the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the Minister, “all contentious issues between the government and ASUU had been settled except the quest for members’ salaries for the period of strike be paid, a demand that Buhari has flatly rejected.”
The minister said that the President’s position had been communicated to the lecturers who are being awaited to call off the strike.
He said only ASUU is yet to indicate a willingness to call off as a result of two conditions, one of which is demand for the payment of salaries for the month spent on strike.
He stated that the rejection was to curb the excesses of trade unions that want to be paid for work not done.
Adamu lamented that despite trillions of naira already expended by the Federal Government on the education sector directly as well as several interventions by agencies such as TEFFUND and UBEC, the university-based unions have continued to maintain a stoical position.
He insisted that “the Buhari administration has invested in infrastructure development of the education sector more than any other administration in the history of this nation. It is on record that the tertiary education trust fund has invested an estimated N2.5 trillion in tertiary education in the last ten years, thereby, exceeding the sum total of N1.2 trillion contained in the 2009 agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and we are still counting.”
The minister stated that the government rejected ASUU’s demand to be paid the salary backlog because it believes that there has to be penalties for their action, in apparent reference to the no-work-no-pay policy of the federal government pertaining to strikes.
However, he noted that ASUU had begun consultations with their members to determine whether to call off their strike as well.
Adamu informed that the University Perculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) and the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) outscored the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) during the integrity tests conducted, affiming that ASUU’s peculiarities will be accommodated in whatever platform that may be adopted.
He further disclosed that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) payment system proposed by ASUU has outscored the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) already in use by government and which the lecturers are kicking against.
Continuing, the Minister also said IPPIS has been updated to now accommodate payment of those on sabbatical.
“Just one thing that I was reminded even the current IPPIS has been made to accommodate sabbatical. I didn’t know this. Somebody just told me.”
Recall the lecturers had accused the government of not considering the peculiarities of tertiary institutions in the IPPIS.
Adamu also debunked the report that UTAS had not been approved by the government as the payment platform for University lecturers.
He explained that the government has proposed a new salary to the unions which he said the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists, (NAAT), have accepted in principle and are now consulting with their members with a view to call off the strike in the next one month.
He, however, commended the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) for calling off its own strike.
Making further remarks, the Minister submitted that it was the responsibility of ASUU to compensate students for the time wasted from the six-month strike, and not the Federal Government as being bandied in some quarters.
Adamu suggested that the affected students should rather “take ASUU to court” to claim for damages incurred over strike period.
According to him, the federal government bears no liability to compensate millions of students grounded for six months over lost time, saying that if the students are determined to get compensated, they should take the matter (ASUU) to court.
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