By Segun Awofadeji
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi Branch, have joined the three days national protest against the federal government to press the unions’ demands for improved workers’ welfare.
The JAC Chairman, Mr. Sulisma Jatau, who spoke to journalists yesterday, said that the two unions decided to embark on the three days protest to press home their eight demands.
Jatau said that nothing has happened to their demands even though they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government on these issues since October 20, 2020.
According to him, the contending issues between the two unions and the federal government include inconsistencies in the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) payment, Non-payment of earned allowances, non-payment of arrears of minimum wage, delay in renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU 2009 agreements and non-payment of retirement benefits of its members that have left the service.
Jatau also pointed out that issues to be resolved also include usurpation of the headship of non- teaching units by teaching staff in clear violation of conditions of service and establishment procedures.
Other issues being pressed by the striking workers are the neglect and poor funding of state university and non-constitution of visitation panels for universities.
He said: “We have waited for so long for the federal government to be able to understand our plight. We have to cry aloud to tell the public that we have been shortchanged and the federal government is not sensitive our own plight. That is why we have to hold this protest to press home our demands.
“We had to do this protest at this moment because of the announcement of resumption of the universities. We have so many lingering issues on ground and as law abiding unions, we don’t want to disrupt the calendar of the schools that is why we want the government to be very proactive and come to our aid and meet our demands before schools will resume or else we will not be blamed for anything that happens.”
Jatau said that the JAC were dismayed that nothing has been done to execute the MoU they signed with the federal government after several rounds of meetings.
He noted that some of their members who retired two years ago are still being owed their retirement benefits.
“We cannot compute the months of pension arrears owed our members because up to now, they’ve not gotten their entitlements. Some of them retired last year while some retired two years ago. But most of them have nothing to rely on.
“We as members’ of these unions are also potential retirees and we don’t want what is happening to happen to us later when we retire so that we can have a smooth transition especially now that we are contributing to this pension fund. We don’t know what is holding the federal government from paying our retirees.”
The JAC’s chairman pleaded with the general public to intervene so that there would be rancour-free academic activities in the universities and warned that if nothing is done after the expiration of the three days protest, they unions would not hesitate to adhere to further directives from their national headquarters.
He regretted that the three unions in the universities, with the exception of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), joined the IPPIS in error and has become poorer for that.
Jatau said: “The three unions in the universities joined the IPPIS because we were deceived that it is a platform that will eradicate corruption and bring transparency.
“We even complained on some irregularities we have in some universities, we went there and rubbed minds and we took almost six months to tell them that we have some peculiarities in some universities that this platform will not capture.
“They promised us that that platform is flexible enough to encompass everything. But to our dismay after we had joined, we are now poorer.”