Nigerian university workers demand N30 billion earned allowance

Main entrance to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.

Nigerian non-academic university workers have demanded N30 billion as payment of their earned allowances from the Nigerian government.

The union lamented that 80 per cent of the money earlier released to the universities was for academic staff which it described as ‘discriminatory’.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Nigerian university workers announced a warning strike from Monday, to press the federal government to meet their demands.

The one-week strike holds from August 19 to 23.

While addressing journalists on Thursday, the union accused the government of discriminating against them and giving preferential treatment to the academic staff, ASUU.

“Unless the government meets our demands, the warning strike which ends on Friday may snowball into what we call mother of all strikes,” the union said.

The threat of the unions is coming just as the National Universities Commission issued a circular to vice-chancellors of all federal universities on the payment of salaries and arrears of the teachers of university staff schools.

This has been a subject of industrial crisis between the government the unions since 2016.

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In its address, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the non-academic unions, Solomon Alfa, said the five-day warning strike embarked upon last Monday to press home their demands has been very successful.

The striking unions include the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU).

Mr Alfa said the money demanded will be used to close the gap created by the discriminatory disbursement of the funds earlier approved for settlement of university workers’ earned allowances.

Issues

The union said it also wants the government to re-open the renegotiation with them on the 2009 agreement which he said was “long overdue for renegotiation.”

According to Mr Alfa, the unions were protesting the continued discriminatory practice by the government in favour of the academic staff in the “sharing of money meant for payment of earned allowances.”

“Consequently, the JAC of SSANU and NASU is demanding the sum of N30 billion from the federal government for payment to the non-teaching staff in order to close the gap it created by the discriminatory allocations.”

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Mr Alfa said the unions are ready to cooperate with labour minister, Chris Ngige.

Some of the demands of the union include the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/University staff unions’ agreements, non-implementation of the December 5, 2016, judgment of the National Industrial Court on University Staff Schools, among others

The union also lamented that the government has not invited it for dialogue since the beginning of the warning strike.

The Strike

The unions had embarked on a nationwide strike on December 4,, 2017 following the failure of the government to address their grievances. That strike was suspended in March 2018.

Mr Ngige had said then that the government would source for N8 billion, within five weeks, to pay the striking workers.

The minister announced this at a resolution reached at a meeting on March 13, 2018.

But the unions during their protest in 2018 said the delay in the payment of the allowances had become a source of discomfort and agitation by members.

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