As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark Labour Day on Wednesday, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has condemned alleged disrespect for the court by the Nigerian government.
It said the government’s failure to reinstate about 2,000 sacked workers of various universities’ staff schools across the country is a reflection of the lack of respect for the workers and the judiciary by the executive arm.
The National Industrial Court ordered the reinstatement of the workers on December 5, 2016.
In a statement signed by its National Public Relations Officer, Abdussobur Salaam, SSANU described the plight of the sacked staff as unfortunate. It said their neglect by the government is irresponsible.
The union urged Nigerians to persuade the government to respect the rule of its own court and reinstate the sacked workers and restore their rights and privileges.
“SSANU congratulates all workers on yet another Workers Day. This year’s Workers Day coincides with the centennial anniversary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and as such has been themed- 100 years of struggle for Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice.
“The above theme captures the totality of the dilemma of the Nigerian workers as we trudge on in our quest for better jobs, the dignity of labour and social justice. Perhaps no sector carries the brunt of this theme more than the university sector, where a cross-section of the workforce have been denied their jobs, their rights to dignity and their entitlement of social justice.
“Some of us may recall that in 2014, an obnoxious circular emanated from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, directing vice-chancellors to remove university staff school workers from the payroll of the government. With this circular began a series of agitations by SSANU and other stakeholders in the sector. The agitations culminated in a legal action at the National Industrial Court, where it was ruled on December 5, 2016, that based on the SSANU/FGN 2009 Agreement and in line with the terms and conditions of employment of university staff school teachers, they are an integral part of the university system and the obnoxious circular cannot be applied in their respect.”
SSANU said it was worried that without any reason, the government has since 2016 refused to reinstate them to the payroll and as such, “they have been left on the hanger out to dry!”
“The question in line with the theme of today’s Workers Day Celebrations now arises- Where are their jobs? For more than three years now, many of the university staff school workers, numbering over two thousand nationwide, have been wallowing without jobs and left to languish in pain. Their dignities have been diminished and they have been reduced to beggars and destitute who live on handouts from families and friends. Where is the social justice in a union embarking on legal means and respecting the rule of law and yet being denied the outcome of the court process? It is indeed painful and shameful that this disrespect for a court ruling would occur under not only a democratic dispensation but one in which the number two man is a legal luminary of repute,” the statement added.
SSANU urged President Muhammadu Buhari and his team to take a second look into the matter, saying apart from denying them their jobs, they have also been deprived of their dignities and withheld justice.
“The university staff schools are protected by the Acts establishing the universities and in many cases, they are as old as the universities themselves. The university staff school system has produced many eminent and productive Nigerians including Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Chimamanda Adichie, Hadiza Bala Usman of the Nigeria Ports Authority, among numerous others. Not a few staff in these schools have worked for upwards of three decades and just a few years to retirement, are laid off without any iota of respect and appreciation and without any entitlements. We call on all stakeholders and friends of the university system to prevail on government to respect the National Industrial Court Judgement and ensure the reinstatement of university staff school workers so as to guarantee their jobs, dignity and social justice as this year’s Workers Day theme connotes,” the union said.