…As FG, Lawan decline to meet NASU, SSANU demands
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Non teaching staff of Universities have threatened to embark on a strike on Monday. Already various branches of the Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational institutions, NASU and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, are on stand to get directives from the Joint Action Committee, JAC, of the unions for the strike.
The strike according to the unions has become imperative following the alleged poor response from the Federal Government, to meet their demands after the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum to government.
The unions had penultimate week issued a 14-Day Ultimatum to address the issue of Earned Allowances, sacked workers of Staff Schools or they will shutdown the universities.
The unions had on August 6 resumed nationwide protest in all the universities.
The two unions in a circular to all the branches after the JAC meeting penultimate Thursday, in Abuja, said that at the expiration of the 14-days ultimatum, if the federal government failed to address all their grievances, they would be left with no other option than withdrawing their services and shutting down the universities.
In the circular to all their branches with the title “Notice of Industrial Action”, which was signed by the Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke and the General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, the two unions lamented the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government towards addressing their grievances and obeying court judgment.
The circular read, “This is to inform you that the Joint Action Committee, JAC of NASU and SSANU met today, Thursday 1st August, 2019, to consider the issues which led to the Nationwide protest in our various branches, viz, Payment of Earned Allowances, University Staff Schools matter, Renegotiation of 2009 FGN/Unions Agreement among others.
“After extensive deliberations, JAC further observed that:
“No date has been rescheduled by the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ahmed Lawan for the meeting with the leadership of JAC national.
“The meeting earlier scheduled by the Federal Ministry of Education with the leadership of JAC national has been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 7, 2019 with no reason(s) stated.
“From the foregoing, JAC national has resolved as follows:
“That a 14-Day ultimatum of Industrial action be given to the Federal Government of Nigeria to address the pending issues with effect from Monday, 5th August, 2019. During the period of the ultimatum, all branches are hereby directed to carry out peaceful protest on Tuesday, 6th August, 2019 and Thursday, 15th August,2019 respectively.
“At the expiration of the 14-days ultimatum, Sunday 18th August 2019, without any positive response from the Federal Government of Nigeria, members shall proceed on a 5-day warning strike in all branches from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August, 2019, inclusive.
“You are therefore directed to properly mobilize our members for this action. All defaulting branches shall be sanctioned accordingly.”
Recall that the two unions had on July 12 directed members to embark on peaceful protest in their various branches to draw the attention of government over some unresolved matters.
According to a communique issued at the end of the JAC,” The meeting in Session rejected the sharing formula adopted by the Federal Ministry of Education in the allocation of the last tranche of N25 Billion which allocated 80% to ASUU and a paltry 20% to the Non- Teaching unions.
“It was noted that the procedure of allocating monies meant for staff emoluments and allowances across union lines is totally alien to best practices and is a contravention of financial processes.
“NEC in Session observed that the sharing formula defies all logical explanation and does not reflect the proper status of payment of Earned Allowances for Non- Teaching Staff in our Universities and Inter- University Centres.
“NEC in session also observed that while the outstanding claims of Earned Allowances to ASUU may have been settled till 2012 and part- payment up to 2016 inclusive, the payment of Non- Teaching Staff between 2009 and 2012 have not been resolved, talk- less of up till 2016.”
The unions frowned at the inability of the Federal Government to obey the judgment of the National Industrial Court that ordered the reinstatement of workers in the Staff Schools.
After the threat to proceed on strike, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan organised a meeting with the unions to resolve the contentious issues, but the meeting could not hold as it was scheduled on the day members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, also known as Shiites had embarked on a protest for the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Though, leaders of the union waited for the Senate President for a rescheduled meeting in Abuja for many days, no information was given to them on that.
However, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Sonny Ochono on Wednesday last week met with the JAC where the issues in contention were extensively discussed and decisions reached.
According to the Chairman of JAC, Comrade Ugwoke, the Permanent Secretary who was with the Directors in the ministry promised to send a draft of the decisions reached at the meeting to the unions.
Although, the JAC Chairman had expressed optimism that the decisions reached would addressed the issues, the General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi had expressed reservations, saying that he never trusted government until the decisions were implemented going by previous encounters.
But after waiting for the government without any response, the non teaching staff appear ready to carry out with their threat.
The National Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Comrade Salaam Abdussobur told journalists on Friday that the one week strike would commence on Monday.
He said, “Based on the poor response from the Federal Government, it is inevitable that a one week strike action shall be held as from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August. This is following the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum given to the Federal Government.
“We met with the officials of the Federal Ministry of Education led by the Permanent Secretary last week. While the meeting appeared successful on its face value, the resolutions are yet to be backed up by any correspondence or digest as agreed at the meeting
“This is not the first time that meetings would be held and we would take them by their words only to be disappointed by their actions.
“Our members, being our principals, have contended that for all decisions reached with Government, there must be a level of corresponding actions that show their sincerity and commitment to those decisions. If the actions do not correspond, we must continue with our agitations.
“So, a five day warning, being part of the activities lined up in our agitations, have been resolved to proceed between 19th and 23rd
“After the warning strike, another review shall be made which would determine the way forward.
Among the contentious areas included the Earned Allowances which the non teaching staff unions claimed that they were shortchanged in the sharing formula. They said that out of the N23 billion released to the four unions in the university, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, allegedly took over about eighty percent of the money, leaving only twenty percent for the three unions.
They also lamented the inability of the government to obey court judgment especially the judgment of the Industrial Court in 2016 that directed government to reinstate sacked workers of Staff Schools which has not been complied with and the re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement.