Fresh strike looms as Nigerian govt fails to honour agreement with university workers

UNICAL
University of Calabar used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: Daily Post]

The leadership of non-teaching staff of Nigerian universities has fixed a meeting for July 4 to decide its next line of action following the failure of the federal government to implement the agreement it entered with the workers over three months ago.

The unions- Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) – went on a “comprehensive and indefinite strike” action on December 4, 2017 over the sharing of N23 billion the government released to the universities as earned allowances.

The workers suspended the strike on March 15 after an agreement with the government.

Although the unions gave the government five weeks to implement the agreement, this has not been done 13 weeks later.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the government said it will look for N8 billion within five weeks to pay the striking workers.

“The development in the past few weeks is disheartening and very disappointing and what it has continued to show to us as non-teaching staffers in the university is that this government is very insincere, very irresponsible when it comes to honouring agreements,” Abdussobur Salaam, the spokesperson for SSANU told PREMIUM TIMES in a phone interview.

Mr Salaam said it is sad that the government does not respect court judgements adding that none of the terms of MOU “with respect to government taking action has been implemented”.

“Our members in the staff schools are still out of jobs, as we speak, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife is about to implement the disengagement of the staff in the University staff school which is in gross contravention of the court ruling of the National Industrial Court of December 5, 2016 and also in gross contravention of our agreement that was signed in February this year, which is disheartening,” he said.

Mr Salaam said that Nigerian government has failed the unions again and as such “we may be forced to take some decisions.”

“At the end of the day, N8 billion was agreed upon which includes settling those academic staffers who are left out in University of Ilorin and University of Nigeria, Nsukka for the earned allowances payment. But as I speak to you, the government has already paid those academic staff, leaving out the ‘main people’ that they had an agreement with,” he said.

“You can be sure that if by the time we have our NEC meeting and nothing has been done, the unions will go every length to ensure that government respects its agreements. An agreement freely entered into must binding and that is our position.”

Similarly Godfrey Ugwu, NASU’s deputy president said the three unions have been having consultations with the government “but nothing has been done.”

According to Mr Ugwu, all the branch leaders of the unions have been invited to the meeting in Abuja on July 4 to make a final decision on the matter.

“That is why we are calling the meeting so that the decision will be effective, we will tell them all the things we have done and what government has done, then we’ll take a decision on that.”

Also, Sani Sulaiman, the national president of NAAT said the unions will decide if they will embark on strike or not after the July 4 NEC meeting.

“Although we are expecting a letter to give us update of what is happening, the truth is that the workers are interested in their money coming out as promised.

“The minister of labour is (was) meant to organise a meeting of stakeholders on May 29 on how the money can be paid but up till now we have not heard anything from him.”

Efforts to get a reaction from the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Samson Olowokere, were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls and text messages put across to him.


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