Plans to meet non-teaching staff unions
We don’t need meeting for govt to pay full salary, release pay slip ― JAC
Issues 14-Day strike notice
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government, weekend, said that it was in touch with Bursars of Universities to compile all the problems associated with the payment of salaries through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, platform so that they could be addressed.
The government also said that it has received the strike notice from the non-teaching staff unions in the universities and was making efforts to meet with the leadership of the unions.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who disclosed this in Abuja, said that his office was planning to apply for a special pass from the Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19 for a physical meeting with the unions to thrash out all the contentious issues.
But the Joint Action Committee, JAC, comprised of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU, has said that the government doesn’t need to call for a meeting before it pays members their full salaries and release their pay slips.
The Comrade Samson Ugwoke-led JAC has also issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to correct all the problems associated with the payment of salary through the IPPIS platform and release their earned allowances before the easing of the lockdown, if not members will not resume duty when schools resume.
Fielding questions on the notice of strike issued by the non-teaching staff in the universities and the allegation of payment of half salaries to members of the unions by the IPPIS office, Ngige said that efforts were on top gear to correct all the problems.
According to him, “We are on top of the situation, we have received their letter. Their letter borders on shortcomings of the IPPIS system and I have spoken with the Finance Minister and the Accountant General of the Federation and they said that they are in touch with the University Bursars to correct certain peculiarities and send back to them to treat.
“However, it’s important to point out that one of the shortcomings which the universities’ workers pointed out is that the IPPIS is overtaxing them and that IPPIS skipped some of their people who have taken leave of absence and the rest of them all.
“These are matters that can be easily adjusted, the IPPIS office informed me that immediately the lockdowns are down, these Bursars are to come up, but before then that they should by e-system try to give them additional information on some of those shortcomings and that they will try as much as possible to correct them.
“We have equally gone out to the unions and asked them that we want to meet with them and the IPPIS, so we are trying to see if we can arrange a special pass for them so that their leaders could come up here and we have the meeting.
“The zoom meeting will not be able to correct some of those things that is what we have discovered, we decided that we have to do a physical meeting and we will do that as soon as possible, my office is working with IPPIS office to arrange that meeting.”
Speaking on the planned meeting, Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke said that non-teaching staff members in the Universities have been passing through hardship since they enrolled into the IPPIS platform, adding that in the past four months members have not received full salaries, while deductions made for the servicing of bank loans which members took have not been remitted to the banks and Cooperative Society.
He said: “Since the inception of the IPPIS contrary to what the platform is supposed to be, what we were told and what we believed before we accepted the platform, SSANU members and the non-teaching staff in the universities have not received complete salaries.
“From January 2020, till date, we have not received full salaries and since that time till now, no payslip has been released by IPPIS to the universities. So, all that our members have received as net pay is what IPPIS wants to give us. It’s as worse as that because if you have your payslip, you will now know what are the deductions made from your salary.
“Up till now, the other deductions that are meant for our members and their welfare are being withheld by the IPPIS and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation. They deducted tax and paid to the federal government, they deducted welfare money, they deducted cooperative society funds, the deducted… loans and withheld it since that time, the implication is that salaries have not been paid in full since the inception of the IPPIS.
“Worse still is that some of our members are indebted to Cooperative Society, some who took loans are indebted to Welfare funds, from the banks and by an agreement reached with these organisations, the repayments are made monthly.
“The IPPIS office deducted these monies and refuses to transmit to the organizations, the banks, the Welfare scheme and the Cooperative Society thereby making our members be defaulting in the agreements they signed with these organisations or the banks and accumulating interest and compounding the problem on our members.
“Our people have witnessed untold hardship since the commencement of the IPPIS. But remember that the money deducted which will call third party deductions are part of salaries. By the Labour Act, no organisation or employer should deduct check-off dues and withhold for over two weeks, it is contrary to the Labour Act.
“The actual thing is that when it is deducted, it’s then remitted to the office of that union. But for four months now, the Accountant General Office via the Office of IPPIS has deducted money and withheld the money without remitting to the unions, the Cooperative Society, to the welfare scheme or to the banks that people borrowed money from.”
Ugwoke further said: “Again, as a result of the 2009 Agreement, we gained Earned Allowances being paid to our members, since 2009 to January 2020, these allowances have been paid by the various universities to our members. But IPPIS, since it’s inception, has removed these allowances which are products of the bargain between the universities and the Federal Government and was signed.
“The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Office of the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission were duly represented on the government team that negotiated the allowances with labour. Now IPPIS is saying that it needs a circular from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission before it could implement the Earned Allowances.
“That Agreement was negotiated and it passed through the National Assembly. It was signed by the President and Commander-in-Chief, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. It allowed our members to stay for 65 years instead of 60 and Professors to stay 70 years before retirement instead of 65.
“A problem brewing is that IPPIS is saying that the salaries of our doctors and health workers who have reached 60 years will be stopped. It appears that the man in IPPIS seems to be power-drunk or seems not to be well informed or guided because the retirement age matter is an act of the National Assembly and it is not joined with salary. The National Assembly passed this law that all non-teaching staff of the universities should retire at 65.
“On the part payment of our salary, SSANU as a union has written to the Minister of Labour and Employment informing him about the situation. JAC has also written citing all these problems including the non-payments of benefits, pension to our members who retired over one year now.
“We have written to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, we are yet to get a reply even though they are talking about calling us for a meeting but we insist you don’t need to call a meeting to pay us full salary or release payslips. We have made it clear to the Honourable Minister that they should do the needful.
“We have also made it very clear that if all these things are not addressed, any time the universities are going to reopen after the lockdown, we are going to embark on total strike. We have written to notify them that we will commence a 14-day warning strike in the first instance and thereafter it will be total and indefinite.
“A very major and serious issue is the arrears of Earned Allowances being owed non-teaching staff in the Universities, SSANU and NASU precisely. Remember by 2017 we entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, as a result of our over one to two months strike, negotiated in the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige
“We negotiated for two, three days and finally signed an MoU that the remaining Earned Allowance will be paid for. Now, by 2019 we went on a five-day warning strike and government called and agreed they were going to pay us our Earned Allowances. By last year, we were told that we will be paid by September.
“The Permanent Secretary was very optimistic and that the Accountant General Office was about releasing the money, later we were told to wait for the appointment of Ministers. After the appointment of Ministers, nothing has been heard about that money.
“Government has been adamant and complacent about releasing the check-off dues that is due to us which the government has calculated and agreed that it should be released to us but up till now it has not been released. Our members have agreed that unless the money for Earned Allowances is released, nobody will go to the office. That is the position of SSANU and non-teaching staff unions.”