By Victor Ahiuma-Young
STRIKING members of the Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in the nationâ€™s universities, have given three major conditions to be met by the Federal Government before their ongoing industrial action could be suspended.
The conditions are that government should withdraw the unilateral award of 20, 20, 40Â percent wage increase to NASU, SSANU and ASUU respectively; rescind the threat of no-work, no-pay; and come back to the negotiating table and present all its arguments for discussion.
General-Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, told Vanguard in a chat that until these three basic conditions were met, members would have to continue their ongoing strike.
He reiterated the unionâ€™s argument that the ongoing industrial unrest was not all about emoluments, butÂ about the funding of the university system, failing and decaying infrastructure among other things that have made Nigeria incapable of producing world class graduates any longer.
According to him, â€œwhat are the reasons for the award of 20 per cent wage increase to us, 20 per cent increase to another and 40 per cent to the other of our colleagues? If they are telling us that our members are essentially junior staff, which is not true, because the registrars, bursars and the rest are not junior staff , and apart from that, some of them have doctorate degrees.
â€œAgain, let us agree that they are junior staff, who suppose to have a higher percentage, is it the people that receive the highest pay or those that receive the lowest pay? We are not in a military regime where you just award wage increases. You have to follow due process which is through collective bargaining. Any product of such collective bargaining is sacrosanct.
â€œAgain, you cannot be threatening us that you are going to apply the principle of no-work, no-pay. We did not say we are not going to work. We are ready to work, but government must provide the conducive environment for us to work,â€ he said.
â€œAbove all, it is unheard off that a government would work out of negotiation when the other parties are willing and ready to negotiate. If you do that, you are calling for anarchy.Â You have a negotiating team. If you no longer have confidence in the team, you replace it. But you are still doing business with the team, meaning you still have confidence in the team. So, government must return to the negotiating table,â€ he said.
Comrade Adeyemi, lamented alleged increasing disrespect for due processes and rule of law by the government in spite of its so-called commitment to due process and rule of law.
He added: â€œFor government to give us an award of 20 percent, another set of workers, 40 percent when it knows that even if it had given everybody 100 percent there would still be disparity, is completely unacceptable to us. Nevertheless, we have said the action is not just about salary.
It is about lack of funding for the universities, decayed infrastructure, and general conditions that made the Nigerian universities no longer capable of producing world class graduates. We want to use this opportunity to say no amount of intimidation or threat of no work no pay and other tactics of government could break our ranks. We are resolute and determined to ensure that government do the right thing.â€