Non-Teaching staff of public universities have threatened to resume their suspended strike over failure of the Federal Government to implement the agreement reached in the Memorandum of Action signed in February.
The leadership of the university workers said they are under intense pressure from their members to resume the suspended industrial action, following the failure of the government to stick to the April deadline to implement the MoA.
The workers, under the umbrella of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, had suspended their three-week strike on February 26 to allow the Federal Government to address their grievances.
The leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) – the umbrella body of the non-teaching staff unions of universities – commenced an indefinite strike on February 5.
The JAC of the non-teaching staff of universities comprises the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of the Universities (NASU).
The unions went on strike over the failure of the government to resolve issues in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.
Addressing reporters, SSANU National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim said although the government has met some of the timelines in the MoA, he lamented that consequential adjustments of salaries as a result of the national minimum wage was yet to be carried out.
He also said pension deductions for retired members and implementation of the earned allowance (EA) have not been done.
Ibrahim said: “We met with the government some few months ago and we had an understanding after going on strike for three weeks. A lot of pressure was put on us; a lot of persuasions and we talked with the government and saw the reason to suspend the strike because the government tried to paint the picture of being sincere and we needed to give them an opportunity to do one or two things to ensure that our demands are met.
“As you are aware, our demands are not new demands. These are things that have been lingering for eleven years. We had an agreement with the government in 2009 and till today, a lot of such issues are still lagging behind; especially things that involve some payments of our allowances.
“We saw reasons to suspend the strike because we felt the government was sincere and the timelines given by the government – not us –was that by end of April, most of these issues will be sorted out. We still believe miracles can happen. Outside that, a lot of our members are agitated; we are under a lot of pressure to go back to the trenches because even when we called our members to interact with them, we pressed on them to give the government a chance.”
“We are hoping that government will not disappoint us and paint us like liars before our members. Where the government doesn’t meet the timeline, one cannot guarantee industrial peace because we have been taken for a ride for too long.
“Out of the seven issues we tabled before government, three or four have been handled. For example, the issue of the visitation panel: currently the panels are all over the universities. The issue of discrepancies in our salaries is also being handled by IPPIS committee.
“While government has attempted to address some of the problems the ones that touch us directly – the ones that involve our pockets have not been addressed. Because of the insecurity, inflation has skyrocketed. Prices of items have changed. The little our members get as salaries cannot even take them home. By the time you make few purchases, money is gone.
“But payment of the consequential adjustments for the new national minimum wage and the allowances that are encapsulated in our agreements contained in the earned allowance; these are still things that are lagging behind and there is no end in sight to say the least.
“We are pleading with the government to ensure that they don’t embarrass us as elders in our different unions, that all those agreements we have reached with them, which they promise that they will see the light of day by the end of April, come to see the light of the day, but where it doesn’t, our hands are also tied as leaders.
“We never called off the strike, we only suspended it meaning that our notice is still with the government but by the expiration of this Memorandum of Action, all we need do is to call our people and inform them that the government has failed us and they will tell us the next line of action to take.