—Appeals to ASUU to suspend strike
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Federal Government Tuesday said it would spend about N34 billion on the ongoing payment of minimum wage consequential adjustments to education sector workers with effect from 2019.
The beneficiaries include members of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and their counterparts in the polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige disclosed this while responding to questions from labour correspondents in Abuja on the prolonged ASUU strike.
According to Ngige, the universities would get N23.5 billion the polytechnics N6 billion and the Colleges of Education N4 billion, totalling about N34 billion.
Regarding the ASUU strike, the Minister said the committees set up during the last tripartite plus meeting of the government and university-based unions were given a fortnight to turn in their report and they are still working.
He added that the reports of the committees were being expected this weekend.
He said, “Those committees are working. The one on NITDA is testing the three platforms, the government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the ASUU University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and the Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (U3PS) of the non-teaching staff.
“They started the testing last Thursday. The National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission (NSWIC) has issued their amendment circulars. The unions also have copies to take care of responsibility and hazard allowances wherever it has not been properly captured.”
Ngige assured that there may be likely wage adjustments as the government intensifies efforts to streamline wages through the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.
He said, “We have done police for example. It wasn’t envisaged that we should do it in pockets. But you can see that police has been done. You can also see university teachers saying that their own should be done immediately, since we have done police.
“So, something is being done. It was part of the 2009 negotiation they had with the government then. So, the committee of Prof. Briggs is on it, discussing it with the university unions and their employer, the Federal Ministry of Education. They will bring up something for government to see.
“There are other people. The doctors are complaining about brain drain, this and that. Their hazard allowance has to be touched and it was touched by close to 300 per cent. From N5000 paid across the board for each person, the last person in the health sector is getting N15000 while the big ones are getting N45000. So, that is the quantum leap.”
The Minister appealed to ASUU and other university-based unions once more to suspend their strike so that academic activities could resume once again in public universities across the country.