By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
…As SSANU, NASU accuses govt of discrimination, demand N30 billion earned allowance
THE Federal Government has directed that the Accountant General office and National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission should commence the process of including in the payroll sacked teachers of Staff Schools in the 2020 budget.
The Vice President of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, North, Comrade Solomon Alfa disclosed this while briefing journalists on Thursday on the ongoing strike embarked upon by the union and its sister union, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU in Abuja.
He said that the unions acknowledged that the Federal Government has restored the sacked employees of University Staff Schools to their jobs through a circular it said has been issued to the various institutions.
The government directives were in obedience to the 2016 Industrial Court Judgement that had ordered the government to reinstate sacked Staff School teachers.
Recall that the ongoing five-day warning strike in all Universities in the country was as a result of the government inability to implement the court judgement, the disparity in the disbursement of the Earned Allowances among others.
However, in a circular dated 20th August, 2019 addressed to the Vice-Chancellor and signed by a Director in the Executive Secretary’s office, Chris Maiyaki, the National Universities Commission directed the Vice Chancellors to liaise with the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for the release of funds for the payment of arrears of salaries of the affected workers.
The commission also directed that adequate provisions be made in the 2020 budget of the various universities for the purpose of paying the affected workers in line with the judgement of the National Industrial Court.
Meanwhile, the non teaching staff of the Nigerian Universities have accused the Federal government of discriminating against them and giving preferential treatment to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and warned that unless the government meets their demands, the warning strike which is expected to end on Friday may snowball into what they called mother of all strike.
They are insisting that the government release the sum of N30 billion to them for payment of their earned allowances, saying giving 80 per cent of the money earlier released to the universities to ASUU was too discriminatory.
Alfa who spoke under the Joint Action Committee, JAC of the two striking unions said that the 5-day warning strike embarked upon last Monday to press home their demands had been very successful.
The two unions which began a five-day warning strike last Monday said that the money was to be used to close the gap created by the discriminatory disbursement of the funds earlier approved for settlement of university workers’ Earned Allowances.
According to him, “the unions were protesting the continued discriminatory practice by the government in favour of the academic staff in the sharing of money meant for payment of earned allowances.
“Consequently, the JAC of SSANU and NASU is demanding the sum of N30 billion from the Federal Government for payment to the non-teaching staff in order to close the gap it created by the discriminatory allocations.
“Thereafter JAC expects that government will not allow such dichotomy to raise its ugly head in the system against after defraying the balance”.
“This repeated discriminatory practice by the government of the day in favour of ASUU and against the non-teaching staff is not only worrisome but has portrayed the present government as bias as well as causing divide and rule capable of creating disharmony in the system as an avenue to crumble and kill the university education system.
” Therefore, the JAC of SSANU and NASU is calling on all Nigerians to condemn this act of government with a view to correcting itself.
When asked to comment on the reappointment of Senator Chris Ngige as Minister of Labour and Employment, Alfa said that the unions are ready to cooperate with him, but that he should try to avoid past mistakes so as to ensure harmony in the sector.