Federal Government invokes “no work, no pay” policy on university staff.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a seven months nationwide strike as a result of the noncompliance of the government to the agreement made with the academic union. There was a promise for an improved funding and better welfarism for its members, as well as payment of withheld salaries. This industrial strike that commenced as a four-week warning strike on the 14th of February, have intensely affected students of federal institutions, who are now collateral damages of the federal government’s series of failed meetings with the union.
With over 17 months of industrial actions lost in the last two years within the public university system, the academic union decided to resume work, on the basis of the promises of the federal government. However, the quietness is set to be ruptured again, with the union taking on the federal government over withheld salaries and union dues. The government, after the last strike, invoked the “no work no pay” policy, also withholding salaries that ranged from five to eight months. The non teaching staff also had months of their salaries also withdrawn.
Unions efforts on owed salaries threatening to cause systemic crisis.
The Academic Staffs under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) and the Medical and Dental consultants Association of Nigeria have voiced out their concerns as to the federal government’s decision to withhold their eight months salary. The efforts by these unions to get their withheld salaries is however threatening to to cause another systemic crisis, with stakeholders observing the federal government’s method of resolving this issue.
Upon restarting academic activities, allegations were levied against the federal government on the basis of selective payment of some workers. Some members of MDCAN, Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital in Sokoto were reportedly paid. According to reports from the government, these workers showed proof of working during the industrial strike period. Presently, oppositions are rising as a result of the government’s attempt to pay CONUA members. The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities have however noted their dissatisfaction at this decision.
CONUA denies involvement in industrial strike action.
This was revealed in a letter from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Department of Integrated Personal Payroll and Information System, titled “Re-submission of University Academics (CONUA) membership list for the payment of withheld salaries and check off dues. CONUA was reportedly directed to provide submission of all their necessary information for facilitation of the withheld salaries. The National President of SSNAU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, whilst reacting to this development, noted that the federal government was walking on a tightrope by introducing the divide and rule tactics to the university system. He indicated that the necessary labour laws provided were duly followed in the process of embarking on the nationwide strike. He added that the complacency of the government caused the industrial strike.
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke similarly expressed the same concern. He stated that the government, with this approach would create immense issues with this. In contrast, CONUA issued a statement, explaining that it was rather the ASUU body that declared a total, comprehensive, indefinite and suffocating strike action between February 14 and October 15, 2022. In this statement, CONUA noted that it was never on strike, as they continually rendered services until the second quarter of the year, when the university management shut them out.
ASUU rejects CONUA’s work claim on the basis of zero evidence.
It was further indicated that upon their willingness to go on with their services, the management’s decision prevented them. Regardless of the perspective, the government must importantly be cautious in handling this situation. While CONUA is insisting that their members rendered their services, ASUU is rejecting this claim on the basis of zero evidence of such. Both the teaching staff and non teaching staff cannot work independently and thus, the government must find measures for resolving this issue without causing any disjoint.
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