There were reports, yesterday, that the insistence by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to receive payments for the six months that the strike has lasted was affecting discussions between the two feuding parties in clear allusion to the Federal Government’s ‘no-work-no-pay’ policy.
Specifically, the present administration reiterated that it would not bow to the “whims and caprices” of the university lecturers, who are requesting payment of outstanding salaries, to check future and incessant strikes.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari declined it outright when he submitted the report to him.
At the ministerial media briefing arranged by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Adamu submitted: “All contentious issues between government and ASUU had been settled except the quest for members’ salaries for the period of strike to be paid, a demand that Buhari has flatly rejected.”
He stated that the President’s position had been sent to the lecturers, who are being waited on to call off the strike.
The minister stated that the union was yet to indicate willingness to end the industrial action, noting that the rejection was to curb excesses of trade unions.
He bewailed that despite trillions of naira already expended by the government on the education sector, the university-based unions have continued to maintain a hard position.
The minister explained that ASUU had commenced consultation with members to come up with its next line of action.
Adamu disclosed that the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) and University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) outscored the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) during an integrity test, acknowledging that ASUU’s peculiarities would be accommodated in whatever platform that might be adopted.
The minister added that IPPIS had been updated to accommodate payment of those on sabbatical, even as he refuted reports that UTAS had not been approved by the government as the payment platform for the lecturers.
Adamu revealed that government had proposed a new salary to the unions, which he said, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists, (NAAT) had accepted in principle and were discussing with members with a view to calling off their strike in the next one month.
He applauded the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) for calling off its industrial action.
MEANWHILE, ASUU had gave reasons Tuesday’s meeting with the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led committee came to an abrupt end, stating that the panel presented “award of a recommended Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) prepared by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission” to it.
The union said the ‘award salary’ was “against the principle of collective bargaining based on the Wages Boards and Industrial Council’s Decree No 1 of 1973, Trade Dispute Act (1976), ILO Conventions 49 (1948), 91(1950), 154 (1988) and Recommendation 153 (1981), Udoji Commission Report of 1974 and Cookey Commission Report of 1981.”
The report, ASUU said, “also provided a platform for resolving such important issues as special salaries and conditions of service of university staff, university funding, roles of pro-chancellors, vice-chancellors and National Universities Commission (NUC). A key outcome was a special salary scale for university staff known as University Salary Structure (USS).”
Blaming government of unfaithfulness in its approach to addressing the lingering crisis in the university system via a press release by its president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the union urged the current administration to go back to the “New Draft Agreement of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Renegotiation Committee, whose work spanned a total of five and half years as a demonstration of good faith.”
ASUU said that the “award” presented by the Nimi Briggs panel came in a manner of “take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper”, noting: “No serious country in the world treats its scholars this way.”
In the statement, tagged “Why ASUU Rejects Government’s Award of Salary”, the union alleged: “Government imposed the ongoing strike action on ASUU and it has encouraged it to linger because of its provocative indifference.”