Fresh Crisis Rocks Universities As SSANU, Others Resume Indefinite Strike Over Disbursement Of N23 Billion Earned Allowance
The three non-teaching staff Unions in the nation’s University sector will on Monday commence an indefinite nationwide strike, following what they described as government’s failure to implement agreements reached with them that led to the suspension of an earlier strike last September.
The unions comprising National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), Non Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) raised concern with the disbursement of N23Billion approved by the Federal Government as the payment of arrears of Earned Allowances for both Teaching and Non-teaching Staff of the various Federal Universities in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the unions had embarked on an indefinite strike on September 11, 2017 to press home their demands for the actualization of the 2009 Agreements that the Federal Government signed with the three non-teaching University Staff Unions.
The issues that led to the strike included the implementation of the December 5, 2016 judgement by the National Industrial Court on University Staff Schools; payment of Arrears of Earned Allowances being owed our members
Payment of arrears of Salary Shortfalls; funding of the University System, among others.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, national president of SSANU and chairman of JAC, Samson Ugwoke said after declaring strike, the Federal Government, through a Conciliatory meeting facilitated by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, a Memorandum of Terms of Settlement was signed by the representatives of the Federal Government through the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Minister of State for Labour and Employment and Minister of Labour and Employment, with the representatives of the three non-teaching unions
He explained that the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement that was signed contained eleven agreements which amongst others included the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission initiating the process of ensuring compliance with the NIC judgement with the hope that the process would be concluded within four (4) weeks of the meeting.
Thereafter, the Government would issue a Service Wide Circular in compliance with the NIC judgement.
The above three (3) were among the ten (10) points that were raised and agreement reached through an MoU signed on 20th September 2017.
Ugwoke said it is therefore sad to report that over 2 months after the MoU was signed, the situation that warranted the strike in September remains the same, stressing that nothing has changed.
He said, “In line with our decision to review the position after a month, we note most painfully, that none of the matters that prompted the strike action has been addressed. Rather, it appears that Government through its officials have decided to orchestrate an evil plot to factionalize the University, cause disharmony and disaffection within the System, thereby destroying the emerging industrial peace we have been witnessing in recent times.”
According to him, on the issue of non-Payment of Earned Allowances, an understanding was reached with the Federal Government that the N23billion earmarked for Earned Allowances was for the payment of the second tranche of arrears of Earned Allowances for both Teaching and Non-teaching staff in the University System.
He said to the utter dismay of the unions, the N23billion Naira has clearly been shown to be a payment for the Academic Staff Union of Universities for their so called “Earned Academic Allowances”, while the three (3) Non-teaching staff Unions were allocated a paltry N4.6billion (11%).
He also described as “Extremely strange” how the Federal Ministry of Education arrive at the calculation of what accrues to each University without input of the Bursary Department of the Universities.
He said, “A cursory look at the allocation table reveals some unusual insights. How were Non-teaching staff allocations made? What determinant would make the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) be allocated N328million, while University of Ibadan would be allocated N105million (less than one third of FUTA’s). Or even more ridiculous, is University of Lagos, which was allocated N23million. Are we saying that there are three times the staff strength of non teaching staff in FUTA than in UI? Or that FUTA has fifteen times the number of non teaching staff than in University of Lagos? What indices led to these funny and unseemly allocations that would make the calculation of Earned Allowances for Non-teaching staff in those Universities to arrive at the outcomes as presented in the table? These are begging for answers
“The Joint Action Committee of NAAT, NASU and SSANU hereby state for the avoidance of any doubt, our rejection of the so called allocation as it is obvious that we were conned by the Permanent Secretary, Architect Sonny Echono and the Minister of Labour and Employment, into believing that the N23billion released for Earned Allowances cut across both Teaching and Non-teaching staff as we have now discovered it not to be so.
“We therefore demand for a separate amount being the second tranche of arrears for payment of Earned Allowances to Non-teaching staff across the Federal Universities in Nigeria.”
According to him, having considered the refusal of Government to respect the contents of the Memorandum of Terms of Settlements reached with the Unions on the 20th September 2017, “we are constrained to inform you that effective 12.00 midnight of Sunday 3rd December 2017, the Joint Action Committee of NAAT, NASU and SSANU shall be resuming its earlier suspended strike.
“The strike action shall be comprehensive and total. There shall be no provision of services either skeletal or adhoc basis.”