By DAYO ADESULU
The momentary peace which greeted the Nigerian public universities after the Federal Government acceded to the demands of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has however been short lived as the one week warning strike of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities SSANU has paralysed academic activities in the states and Federal universities.
Speaking with Vanguard Learning, Chairman, SSANU UNILAG, Mr. Olusegun Odusonwo said the one week warning strike which is expected to elapse tomorrow was purported to force the government to include their demands in 2013 budget.
According to the Union leader, since 2009, the Federal and State Government have failed to implement the agreement reached with SSANU adding, “the government is playing pranks with the Union.”
Several months before the warning strike, Odusonwo noted that the Federal Government had promised to include it in their 2013 budget which they failed to do. “What that portend to us is that throughout year 2013, there will be no hope of implementing the 2009 agreement.
He pointed out that SSANU is particularly not pleased with the government decision to re-trenched fifty per cent of non teaching staff of the universities, arguing that the committee that took the decision does not consist of the stakeholders of SSANU.
”The constituted committee does not consist of SSANU stakeholders but only the academic.”
According to him, when taking such a crucial decision that will affect half of SSANU’s Staff, all stakeholders should be involved. He said, “Already, we are not enough considering the nature of our job. For instance, where five persons supposed to work, just one person is working there.”
Odusonwo reiterated that if nothing is done at the end of the one week warning strike, the union will go back to the drawing board for next line of action.
He, however urged the government to expedite action in granting their demands, adding that out of the four unions in the university system, only ASUU did not join the present strike, the remaining three are on strike.
At UNILAG, he noted, the union has been going from one department to another to ensure that members of the union comply with the directive.
Speaking in the same vein, the Chairman SSANU LASU, Mrs Kole Sessi told our reporter that LASU is in full support of the one week strike which started on Monday.
She said that the Vice President and Chairman of SSANU, South-west, Mr Afred Jimoh had earlier addressed the executives of the Union in South-west public universities to proceed on one week warning strike to draw the attention of the government to the implementation of 2009 agreement.
”As I am talking to you now, University of Ibadan is on strike, Obafemi Awolowo University is observing the strike, Ladoke Akintola University is part of the strike.
University of Lagos and University of Benin to mention a few are participating in the industrial action.
She said: “We reject the NEEDS assessment recommendation because non teaching staff were not included in the team that took the decision.”
Mrs Kole was specifically bitter with the Lagos State government who according to her, has been owing the workers17 months arrears and refused to pay without any genuine reason.
”If at the end of this industrial action, nothing positive comes out of it, the National Executive Council of the Union will met to determine the next line of action,” she said.
On his part, the Chairman of SSANU, UI chapter, Comrade Wale Akinremi, stated that the purpose of the strike was to compel the Federal Government to honour the 2009 agreement, which includes increase in the allowance of the non-teaching workers in universities.
“ The major part of the agreement has not been implemented. Federal Government has failed by refusing to fulfill its promise. We have exhausted our patience. We feel government is not sincere,” he added.
SSANU national President, Mr Sam Ugwoke who had earlier stated that the salary aspect and the 65 years retirement for members in the 2009 agreement have been fully implemented, however noted that the issue of earned allowances is yet to be addressed. “What the union is agitating for is the payment of 2009 to 2012 arrears,” he said.
Moreover, he reiterated that the 2009 agreement was due for review in July this year and SSANU NEC met at Makurdi where they deliberated on how to get recommendations from the branches.