By James Uwem
THE ongoing strike by the Academic Staff UnionÂ ofÂ UniversitiesÂ (ASUU) andÂ Â Radio Television and Theatre Workers Union (RATTAWU) may soon end as the Federal GovernmentÂ hasÂ finally accepted to meet their demands.
It has made available N60 billion to pay for the salary increase as demandedÂ byÂ ASUU and theÂ monetisation arrears demanded byÂ RATAWU.
The Minister ofÂ LabourÂ and Productivity, Mr. AdetokunboÂ Kayode, saidÂ this yesterday in Abuja .
The minister stated that, “Government has issuedÂ a white paper ordering the finance minister andÂ other related agencies toÂ set asideÂ N20.6bn to settle ASUUâ€™sÂ salaryÂ increaseÂ demandsÂ and N40bn for theÂ settlement of the monetisationÂ forÂ RATTAWU and other government staff,â€ KayodeÂ stated.
TheÂ disbursementÂ ofÂ the fundsÂ for the settlement ofÂ monetisation arrears,Â Â accordingÂ to the minister,Â willÂ begin on Monday, July 13 whileÂ that of ASUU salary increaseÂ will take effectÂ fromÂ Â August 1,2009.
â€œThis presentÂ government isÂ fullyÂ committedÂ Â to maintaining peace in the industrial sector, asÂ such, thereÂ wasnâ€™tÂ anyÂ basis for theÂ strike in theÂ firstÂ place,Â Â as government was working on modalities to permanently resolve every position presented by these unions.
“N60bn is lodged in designated banks and will be paid into individual accounts from July 13 for the monetisations and August 1, respectivelyÂ for salary increase of ASUUÂ members .â€
The ministerÂ however stated thatÂ ASUU ,RATAWUÂ andÂ others have no reason to continueÂ forging ahead with theÂ Â strike. HeÂ pleadedÂ Â with the Unions to go backÂ to work,Â statingÂ that governmentÂ â€˜no work no pay isÂ still enforceâ€™ asÂ such since money has been earmarked for thisÂ settlement , theÂ strike should be called off.
Mr. Kayode alsoÂ added thatÂ governmentÂ at thisÂ stageÂ hasÂ agreed to all the fourÂ demandsÂ byÂ ASUU including having full autonomy by individual Universities.
This in essence theÂ ministerÂ said means ,Â thoseÂ Universities thatÂ are financially buoyant may have the ability to pay their staff moreÂ than others , In thatÂ regard he added that federal government has agreed to pay ASUU its due but may not compel state owned Universities to concede to theÂ increase as states he added can only pay what the revenue can carry.