University Workers Strike: Nigerian govt, workers contradict self on compliance with agreements

University of Lagos (UNILAG). [Photo credit: Students Nigeria]
University of Lagos (UNILAG). [Photo credit: Students Nigeria]

The Nigerian government said it has met the twelve-point agreement reached with non-teaching staff of federal universities.

The aggrieved staff, members of three unions, NASU, NAAT, and SSANU, commenced an indefinite strike on Monday, accusing the government of violating the agreement.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said this in a press statement signed by the spokesperson of the ministry, Samuel Olowookere, on Tuesday.

Mr Ngige said the federal government has complied faithfully with the implementation of the agreement.

The minister asked the unions to call off their strike and make a fresh case on the modalities for the disbursement of the N23 billion Earned Allowances recently released to 24 federal universities.

He said the federal government has fully complied with its part of the agreement, and that the non-teaching staff should not blame the federal government for what the striking unions termed the “skewed disbursement formula” of the N23 billion earned allowances.

“The Joint Action Committee of Non-Teaching Staff came with twelve-point demand. We sat over it and agreed on all, on September 20, 2017. As I speak, the federal government has fully implemented the major contemporary issues such as payment of shortfalls, registration with PENCOM in the agreement,” the minister said

According to Mr. Ngige, the only grievance the unions have is the modality for the disbursement of the N23 billion.

“But I advised them during the negotiation to call off their strike when it entered the fifth day and quickly forward their own template for accessing this N23 billion meant for the academic and non-academic staff of the universities, since the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had already submitted. They bluntly refused and dragged the strike for weeks,” Mr. Ngige said

The minister said the unions should make a fresh case for inclusion of their demand in the 2018 budget.

“If the unions under JAC are embarking on a fresh strike, they are yet to comply with the relevant sections of the Labour Laws for embarking on action,” he said.

The minister warned the unions to stop misguiding their members and avoid pushing the federal government to a situation where it will invoke the relevant section of the labour laws on ‘No Work, No Pay.’ He said it will be disastrous it the government were to implement the ‘No Work, No Play rule’ during the Christmas season.

When contacted, the national president of NAAT, Sani Sulaiman, told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday night that the federal government has not met any of the key demands of the unions.

According to him, shortfall in payments of salaries, non-implementation of the National Industrial Court, NIC, judgement in respect of university staff schools, among others are yet to be implemented.

“The only demand that we know that the fixed date for implementation has not passed is Contiss 14 and 15 for technologist and that is why we never included it in our letter; the agreed date is end of December, 2017,” Mr Sani said.

“All other things have not been met yet, they are not saying the truth at all,” he concluded.

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