More trouble looms for universities as NASU, SSANU and NAAT issue strike alert

The Joint Action Committee of the Union of Non-Academic Staff of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Association of Senior Staff of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have issued a strike notice that would totally shut down academic activities in higher education institutions in the country.

The unions, however, urged the federal government to take immediate and urgent action to resolve and above all respect its obligations as set out in the agreements reached with the unions.

In the same vein, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has also threatened to call a strike if an urgent resolution is not made to the outstanding issues set out in the already existing agreements reached with the government.

Following a meeting held on Thursday, February 24, 2022 in Abuja, the JAC, in a statement jointly signed by Comrade Peters Adeyemi and Comrade Mohammed H. Ibrahim, respectively Secretary General of NASU and National Chairman of SSANU, said ; “We can no longer guarantee industrial peace in our university system. With this release. We place all Nigerians on red alert to the possibility of industrial action by the Non-Teaching Staff Unions of NASU and SSANU as we can no longer watch the agreements freely entered into by the Federal Government with the Unions not being upheld.

“After waiting an entire year for the consummation of the MoU and despite all peaceful entreaties, we wish to inform all stakeholders in Nigerian Universities and Inter-University Centers; and indeed all Nigerians of the possible breakdown of industrial peace in the university system due to the lack of respect for the collective bargaining agreements reached with NASU and SSANU by the government”

Also, the release says; “JAC noted that the industrial action of January 2021 was preceded by a memorandum of action in October 2020 which highlighted the following: inconsistencies in the payment of IPPIS, non-payment of acquired compensation, delay in the renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU agreement, non-payment of National Minimum Wage arrears, usurpation of leadership of non-teaching units in flagrant violation of terms of service and establishment procedures, negligence and insufficient funding of State universities, non-payment of retirement benefits to outgoing members Universities.

“We wish to make public that to date, with the exception of the constitution of visiting committees whose white papers have yet to see the light of day, none of the issues agreed upon in the October 2020 Memorandum of Action and February 2021 has not been implemented. .

“The problems inherent in the Integrated Personnel Payment System (IPPIS) do not lessen, as our members are still receiving random salaries. The untold suffering of our members due to the disorganized payment of wages is further compounded by the unpredictable payment of third party deductions, union dues, cooperative societies. Provident schemes, bank loans among others.

“While we had agreed that a sum of thirty billion naira was to be made available for the payment in arrears of accrued allowances for the three non-teaching unions, we had an embarrassing situation where only 25% of a sum of twenty-two billion naira was paid to non-teaching staff in a disbursement made in December 2021, which has only caused more confusion and dissatisfaction in the university system.

“Until this day, despite all the pleas. the national minimum wage arrears due to our members have not yet been paid.

For its part, NAAT in a statement signed by its National President, Comrade Hon. Ibeji Nwokoma, and made available to journalists on Friday, February 25, 2022, in Abuja said; “Going through the government, the continued insensitivity to the genuine aspirations/agitations and demands of the members of the National Association of University Technologists on many burning issues in the field of repositioning laboratories/workshops/studios in Nigerian public universities and the almost total neglect of the welfare of our union members. The union is compelled by the government, by its activities and arrangements, to engage in what may turn out to be full and indefinite industrial action.

The reasons necessitating the strike proposal according to the NAAT are: “Failure to fully implement the 2009 FGN/NAAT agreement, Refusal to issue the enabling circular for the implementation of CONTISS 14 and 15 for academic technologists, as contained in the 2017, 2020 and 2021 Memorandum of Understanding

“Non-payment of Earned Indemnity (EA) for our members – specifically as agreed in the 2021 MOU that further posting of EA will be Union based and further sharing will be based on the model generated from the signed agreement of each union and not on the number of people in each union or personnel costs, Delay in the renegotiation of the agreement FGN/NAAT 2009.

“Non-payment of arrears of the national minimum wage, non-release of the fund for the rehabilitation of adequate laboratories/workshops and studios. Others include: the deplorable state of laboratories/workshops/studios in Nigerian universities, near-comatism of laboratory equipment and accessories, neglect of infrastructural facilities in laboratories/workshops and studios.

“Non-provision of intervention funds for the purchase of equipment and training of end users of laboratory equipment, university technologists, mismanagement/misuse of limited funds by university administrators whenever provided , non-employment to replace retired academic technologists in some universities with young people, Need to stem the brain drain due to low pay and deplorable working conditions.

“In light of the above, if the government does not address all of the issues raised above, NAAT may be forced into industrial action that will be full and indefinite.

“NAAT therefore calls on all well-meaning Nigerians (traditional rulers, religious leaders, members of the National Assembly, etc.) to persuade the government to avert the impending strike.”

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