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Saturday, September 30, 2023

ASUU threatens extended strike over unpaid 8 months pay

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Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday alerted Nigerians about a fresh crisis which would surpass all the previous ones in the nation’s universities.

It therefore called on the stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the federal government to pay its members across the country their withheld eight months’ salaries.

The chairman of ASUU, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) branch, Prof Moyosore Ajao, raised the alarm at a special congress of the union held at the institution’s main auditorium and his speech was read by the secretary of the union, Dr AbdulGaniyu Olatunji.

The lecturers had staged a solidarity rally within the  campus before retiring to the auditorium where they addressed newsmen on: “Casualisation of Intellectual Workers in Nigeria: Prelude To Our Response”.

“Let me assure you that our union is resolved to continue to call the attention of the government to its responsibilities despite the obnoxious treatment meted out to us by the government. To this effect, though we have resumed work in our university, the government’s ignoble stance of withholding our eight months’ salaries, which is based on its ill-advised policy of “No work, No Pay” is set to trigger fresh crises.

“In the coming days, the union would respond by invoking the “No Pay, No work policy and would abandon the works that have accumulated for those periods which the government has falsely claimed, through Chris Ngige, that our members have not worked.

“It is pertinent to note that, before any industrial action, the union would have given a series of warnings. Therefore, Nigerian stakeholders should understand that not to heed the warning of the union is to risk unpleasant consequences.

“Thus, members of the public are hereby sensitized and put on notice again that a fresh crisis, which would surpass all previous ones, is looming again in Nigeria Universities as our members cannot and would not continue to do free work that would not be remunerated. We hope that with this notice, all relevant stakeholders, who have the ears of the government and would act fast before the fragile peace restored on our campuses nationwide collapses.

“Our union and its members should not be held responsible for the consequences that its actions, in response to the crude wickedness of the Nigerian state, would have on all stakeholders.”

He added:” As a law-abiding union, we have heeded the directive of the court which directed that we resume to our duty posts while the substantive matter is being heard. However, after resumption from strike and to our utmost dismay, the government decided that half salaries be paid to our members for the month of October, 2022. This development is unacceptable and would be resisted by our union. The fact is that academics are not casual workers. Only casual workers receive pay prorate. The law of the land is also clear on this; indeed, the National Industrial Court made it clear in a landmark judgment in 2020 that tenured staff cannot be paid pro-rata.

“While the union finds it absurd that the Ministries of Education and Finance have surrendered their duties and now take order from Ngige, the crass ignorance exhibited by Chris Ngige’s order makes a mockery of the Nigeria nation which in the committee of nations in the world has become infamous as the first nation to convert intellectual workers in its universities to casual staff. It is very sad that the Minister of labor is ignorant of the fact that academic staff engage in so many activities aside from teaching duties. In fact, the primary duty of an academic staff is research, and there are other activities such as that that continue to engage their attention irrespective of strike action or whether school is in session or not,” he said.

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