By Victor Ahiuma-Young
INDICATIONS have emerged that strikingÂ members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in the nationâ€™s universities, may suspend their ongoing industrial action tomorrow to bring normalcy to the nationâ€™s universities that have been shut down for over three months.
NASU members along side their Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), counterparts, have for some weeks now paralysed activities at the nationâ€™s universities for refusal by the government to sign and implement an agreement reached with its negotiating team headed Chief Gamelie Onosode.
Members of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) later joined the industrial action.
But members of ASUU last Friday suspended their strike for two weeks to resume negotiation with government after a mediation by Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Although, members of ASUU had since Monday returned to the classrooms, but normal academic activities have not begun because other unions are yet to suspend or call off their action.
However, Leaders of NASU met on Monday to deliberate on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they reached with government last Friday and unit leaders in each federal and state universitiesÂ to go back to their institutions and present the matter to their members for decision.
General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, told VanguardÂ that members across the country in all the universities were still on full industrial action and that decision to suspend for two weeks, call of completely or reject government proposal for return to negotiation table would be decided and decision made known on this Friday in Abuja.
Leaders of NASU had last week,Â after three days of intensive meetings and negotiations, reached an understanding that both parties could return to negotiation table while NASU suspends its strike for two weeks.
According to him: â€œ Members in all the federal and stateâ€™s universities are very much on full industrial action. In fact, we just finished our meeting now (Monday) to deliberate the MOU we reached with government last week.
We have resolved and directed leaders of NASU in all the universities to go back to their respective institutions and present the MOU and available options to them and let them take decision.
The options are three. One, wether to suspend the strike for two weeks and return to our negotiation table with government. Two, wether to call off the strike completely and return to dusty posts and thirdly, wether to reject totally governmentâ€™s offer to return to the negotiation table and continue the ongoing strike.
They have up to Thursday to feed us back the decisions of members in their respective universities.
By Friday, we will address a press conference in Abuja to announce the decision of our members.â€
Before this development, NASU leaders had 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 awarded 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.
ComradeÂ Adeyemi had told VanguardÂ that until these three basic conditions were met, members would have no other choice other than 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,Â failing and decaying infrastructure among other things that have made Nigeria incapable of producingÂ world class graduates any longer.
According to him: â€œ What are the reasons for the award of 20 percent wage increase to us, 20 percent increase to another and 40 percent to another 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.
Again, let us agree that they are junior staff, who is supposed 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.
Again, 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. Above all, it is unheard of that a government would walk 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€