The Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities’ Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) have blamed the persistent industrial actions in the country for the non-implementation of agreements.
The General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, stated this to newsmen on Sunday, in Abuja.
Adeyemi, who lamented the non-implementation of agreements reached with unions in research institutions 10 years ago, blamed government officials for signing agreements only to end strikes without any intention of fulfilling the terms of those agreements.
“We have had to contended with the problem of government and employers of labour in our country abdicating their responsibility and refusing to honour signed agreements,” he said.
Adeyemi said that the volume of industrial crises that had occurred in Nigeria was as a result of refusal of government, particularly the Federal Government, to honestly and faithfully implement agreements that they freely entered into with the unions.
According to him, it is becoming problematic because every day, government signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Agreements (MoA).
”It seems, to a large extent, that such actions are nothing, but a fire brigade approach on the part of the Federal Government to get striking workers back to work.
”They sign these MoUs and MoAs, when they know, they are not going to do anything to address the grievances of the unions. I am not sure the Federal Government even knows the number of MoUs and MoAs they have signed in recent times,” he said.
The NASU president insisted that the implication of the path the government has adopted would only lead to many more strikes and the unions will be legitimately right for prosecuting a strike.
He added that this was because the moment they obtained these agreements, they go back to their members in good faith and the strike is suspended. But many months after that, nothing happens and a new set of agitations will then begin.
Adeyemi further explained that the insertion of timelines in agreements was meant to ensure adherence to a an implementation timetable, but regretted that this had not also helped the situation.
“Incidentally even when timelines are attached to these agreements, it does not serve as a motivation to do anything. We have had agreements where timelines of six weeks were agreed upon.
”But nothing happen after six months and even six years. This shows clearly that the Federal Government willingly enters into agreements knowing fully well it is not committed to doing anything,” he said.
Also, Mr Akintola Benjamin, President of SSAUTHRIAI, while reacting to the contentious issue, said that the Federal Government had shown lackadaisical attitude to respecting signed agreements.
According to him, the issues in contention included withdrawal of circular on non-skipping of salary grade level 10.
He said that although the unions in the research sub-sector secured a judgment for the implementation of the non-skipping, the Federal Government was yet to implement the policy service-wide, but had chosen to implement it only in a few ministries.
“We are saying that the judgment should be implemented service-wide, so that it will cut across the entire 14 ministries where research institutes are,” he said.
He added that the non implementation of the retirement age of 65 years, as applicable in the Nigerian universities, in the research institutions, was another issue.
“In the universities, the retirement age is 65 years for both academic and non-academic staff. The scheme that the research institutes run is the same with that of the universities. The Colleges of Education and Polytechnics are enjoying the 65 years retirement age.
”We are asking that both research and non-research staffers should also enjoy 65 years retirement age. The academic staff in research institutes are already enjoying this. We are saying it should be extended to all the staff, in order to stem migration from research institutes to other sub-sectors.
“We are also asking for the establishment of a regulatory body to be known as the National Research Institutes’ Commission (NARICOM) as we have National Universities Commission (NUC) for the universities and National Commission for Colleges of Education and others.
“We are agitated by inadequate funding of research institutes. We are demanding that research should enjoy specialised funding in order to encourage research activities. We are also seeking a review of our conditions of service.
”We have worked on it and submitted it to the Federal Government, but it has not taken any action on it. The one they released to us was manipulated so we rejected it. We are now calling on government to release the agreed version to us,” he said.
Akintola also said the recent 15-day ultimatum, which was issued based on the same demands made on Sept.10, is due to expire on Sept. 27, and the Federal Government is yet to respond to it.