By Research institutes give 14-day strike ultimatum
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of Universities has expressed worry over the delay in the conclusion of renegotiations between the federal government and unions in tertiary institutions.
The concern by the union came just as it said that its members working in federal government-owned research institutes in the country may be forced to commence industrial action if after two weeks, government fails to pay the 12 months salary arrears owed them.
Addressing the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting that took place on Wednesday, the National President of NASU, Makolo Hassan, said that it has become necessary to urge the federal government to prevail on the renegotiation committees to conclude negotiations in various sectors.
“The committees constituted by the federal government for the universities and inter-university centres, the polytechnics and the colleges of education have refused to conclude their assignment several years after they were constituted. This is unhealthy for the sustenance of industrial peace and uninterrupted academic calendar in our tertiary institutions,” he said.
Hassan said that for over 10 years now, the federal government has failed to honour the agreement it freely entered into with the Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Unions (JORAISU) as contained in the year 2010.
Among the unresolved issues are the payment of 12 months arrears of 53.37 per cent salary increase, earned allowances, implementation of 65 years retirement age for research staff as obtainable in the universities.
Others are the withdrawal of the circular on non-skipping of salary grade level 10, establishment of a central body known as National Research Institute Commission (NARICOM), adequate funding of research institutes and release of conditions of service.
Hassan said: “Unfortunately, up till the present of this address, the federal government is yet to match words with action and these issues have not been attended to despite several reminders, strikes and several memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered with government on this matter. We therefore use the opportunity of this meeting to request the federal government to act speedily particularly on the issue of 12 months.
“Except some concrete steps are taken within the next 14 days, NASU members in all research institutes in Nigeria will be compelled to commence actions to press home their demand in this regard,” he said.
The union leader also lamented the lapses recorded in the payment of salaries through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
“In the face of the challenges and the lukewarm attitude of the federal government and the IPPIS office towards addressing the shortcomings, NASU may have no choice than to embark, as soon as possible, on a full blown strike in the universities and inter-university centres, polytechnics and colleges of education, except something is done very urgently to positively remedy the situation,” he said.
On the issue of alleged marginalization of NASU in the payment of earned allowances, the union said that if such act is repeated in the next phase of payment, it will not hesitate to embark on any lawful action to redress the anomaly.
The union also joined other labour unions in the country to demand the reversal of the recent increase in the pump price of petrol.
The union lamented that the federal government had increased prices of petrol and electricity tariff several times even while Nigerians were grappling with the painful impact of Covid-19.
“This act of government in this year of Covid-19 pandemic that no tangible palliative has been extended to Nigerian workers and Nigerian people is not only condemnable but shows how insensitive government has been,” NASU said.
Meanwhile, the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has advised labour to be more circumspect in their insistence that refineries must work before government introduces deregulation.
He said that there is no evidence to show that getting local refineries to work is going stem the frequent hike in fuel price in the country.
According to the JAMB Registrar, what labour should do is to reappraise their position and try to strike a balance on national interest and the welfare of workers.