The federal government has presented new proposals to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) aimed at bringing an end to the nine months strike action by the union.
The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, said the ASUU executives are to have a quick consultation with their members and present feedback to the government.
Mr Ngige said this at the end of another meeting between ASUU and a government delegation, in Abuja, on Tuesday night. He did not disclose the details of the proposal.
According to Mr Ngige, the proposals are “win-win situation proposals made for the enhancement of the academic institutions in the country.”
Mr Ngige said the proposal would address the concluding part of the issues that led to the ASUU strike.
“We started on a nine-point complaint, and a lot of the complaints have been addressed. Today we conclusively addressed the leftovers.”
The minister said past proposals presented to ASUU by the government have addressed other areas of concern.
“We have had very incisive deliberations. We have crossed some t’s and dotted some i’s in the past proposals given to ASUU by government, and the areas of concern have also been addressed,” he said.
He said he hoped that the members of ASUU would appreciate the inherent benefits of the proposals to the parties involved and recognise that they were designed to add value to the academic institutions, and therefore call off their strike action.
ASUU President speaks
Also speaking, the President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union executives would immediately consult with the members on the new proposals by the government.
“They have given our union some new offers that we have pledged to make immediate consultations over,” he said.
He said the union is as concerned as any other Nigerian about the problems facing Nigerian universities but that the next course of action would be determined by the National Executive Council of ASUU.
“So we are saying that with the understanding of our members, we shall get back to government within the next 24 hours to make the decision of the National Executive Council of ASUU known to the government,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi said both parties had some good discussions over the demands presented by the Union.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the last meeting between both parties, which held in December 18, ended inconclusively with neither side disclosing what was discussed or decided upon.
The meeting was expected to lead to the call off of the strike but apparently ended without meeting that objective.
ASUU embarked on the latest nationwide strike on March 23 to demand the revitalisation of the universities, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, and visitation panels for universities, among others.
The union also proposed the use of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform in universities in place of the controversial IPPIS.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how, in a prior meeting, the federal government offered N65 billion to the universities to address some of the lecturers’ demands.
Giving a breakdown of the N65 billion after a meeting between both parties, Mr Ngige said the Accountant-General of the Federation had offered to release N40 billion “or in the alternative, N35 billion to be shared by all the registered trade unions in the universities after providing necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.
“The 65 billion was proposed to be shared in two different manners. First, a proposal for N25 billion Revitalisation and N40 billion earned allowances for all the unions in the universities while the second proposal was “the issue of revitalisation getting N30 billion and earned allowances getting N35 billion.
The government also agreed to pay the lecturers their outstanding salaries using an older payment platform, GIFMIS, different from the controversial IPPIS.
Speaking on the constitution of visitation panels for public universities, Mr Ngige said the panels would be inaugurated in the incoming week and would conclude their assignments on December 31.
“They will look at issues arising from the last 10 years in those federal universities broken down into five years compartments,” he said.
On the issue of withheld salaries, Mr Ngige said the ministries of labour and education would review the issue of ‘no work, no pay’ as stipulated in Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap T8 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, with a view to getting approval for the withheld salaries to be paid.
“By Monday we will start the work on it, as soon as we finish because there is a transition period between the formalization of IPPIS, formalisation of UTAS.”
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