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Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The Federal Government has promised to clear arrears on the consequential adjustment on minimum wage owed to members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, by end of October.

Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this at the end of a meeting between the Federal Government and the Joint Action Committee, JAC of the two unions, convened to examine the level of implementation of the Memorandum of Action, MoA, it signed with the unions in February 2021.

Ngige commended the unions for their understanding and maturity in cooperating with government to resolve their issues, emphasizing that government did not take them for granted.

The Minister disclosed that the meeting was a continuation of an earlier one held on 25th February 2021 at his instance, and at which agreements were reached on various issues concerning members of the unions.

He stated that the meeting agreed that the payment of the arrears be fast-tracked between now and the end of October, adding that arrears in salary and promotion had been captured in the 2021 Supplementary Budget.

Ngige stated that it was not Government’s intention to owe that payment, but that the delay was caused by the difficulty in getting the actual number of people qualified for the arrears, adding that a lot of people had joined the Service from 2020 up, while the period of the arrears spanned 19th April – 31st December, 2019.

On Earned Allowances by relevant organizations (universities, polytechnics, colleges of education), Ngige said the JAC would update the National Universities Commission, NUC, on the outstanding amount owed its members, while the NUC was given two weeks to do the appropriate reconciliation.

The meeting agreed to correct the anomalies in the payment of Hazard allowance, caused by an error in printing, which had seen all members collecting the same sum of money across board, with no distinction between senior and junior.

Regarding the Responsibility Allowance, where Heads of Unit were omitted, Ngige disclosed that their employers had been given two weeks to rectify the anomalies to enable the affected people get the appropriate allowance due to them.

On the issue of Renegotiation of FGN/SSANU/NASU 2009 Agreement, Ngige stated that the unions and NUC would agree on a date to meet, as the Secretariat of the Renegotiation Committee was ready.

The Minister stated that as the Visitation Panels for Universities, constituted by government, had finished their work and would present their reports next week, the meeting agreed that Government should, as soon as possible, issue the appropriate White Paper for implementation.

He also stated that the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation reported that out of 293 claims received, all had been processed with 273 paid, and the 20 outstanding would be paid as soon as possible.

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The Minister disclosed that the meeting stepped down some issues billed for discussion because of the unavoidable absence of the relevant officers –Inconsistencies in IPPIS payments, and update on Teaching staff usurping headship of non-teaching units in clear violation if condition service and establishment procedures.

He said the meeting was adjourned to the end of October, adding that meanwhile, all the complaints would continue to be handled administratively, as timelines had been put on some of the outstanding issues.

Spokesperson of JAC, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, described the meeting as fruitful, and their interactions with government as a work in progress, which would continue till the agreements are fully implemented.

Prince Adeyemi said the meeting was essentially to take stock of the implementation of the agreements the unions signed with the Federal Government on 25th February, 2021.

Peters said that the issues they raised at the meeting were being looked into.

Present at the meeting were the President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, the President of NASU, some officers of the two unions as well as government representatives.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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