As the nation’s university education reels from the strike embarked upon by academic staff, the other unions in the sector are warming up to join the action, Morning Mail has learnt.
The strike may soon be called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the three non-teaching unions in the nation’s universities.
They are the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), the Non Academic Staff Union of Education and Allied Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
In a letter to the Minister of Education, dated July 18, 2017, the three unions are demanding an immediate reversal of a Federal Government decision to remove employees of staff schools from the payrolls of the universities.
The reversal is one of the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which declared a nationwide strike on Sunday.
The non-teaching staff are worried that by its conduct, the Federal Government has not only failed to honour the pact it entered with them on the matter, but also disobeyed a court order mandating it to put the employees of staff schools on the payrolls of the various universities.
“The government has refused to heed our call, one month after receiving the letter,” a union leader told Morning Mail.
The three unions are already mobilizing their members for a strike because, one month the letter was served on the government, it has failed to either as requested or invite the labour leaders to a meeting, it was learnt.
The JAC letter was signed by Sani Suleiman, President NAAT; and his counterparts in NASU and SSANU, Chris O. Ani , and Samson C. Ugwoke, respectively.
Directed to the Minister of Education, and copied to his Labour and Employment counterpart as well as the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), the letter reads:
“We are compelled to write to express our frustration and protest over the continued breach of the FGN/University Based Unions 2009 Agreement on the status of staff schools as integral part of the university, the funding (capital and current) which should be borne by the Federal Government.
“This aspect of the agreement was adhered to by the Federal Government until a Budget Call circular was released in 2004, wherein it was stated that workers in the staff schools of Education and Health institutions should no longer be included in the nominal rolls of such institutions. Based on our extant agreement with the Federal Government, we were compelled to react through series of letters and protests culminating in a one-week strike by SSANU in 2016. Following the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the referral of the clause in the FGN/SSANU 2009 Agreement to the National Industrial Court, a judgement was given dated 5th December 2016 wherein it was ruled that the funding of University Staff schools (both capital and recurrent) is the responsibility of the Federal Government in line with the agreement (see attachment 1). Since December 2016 (six months after the judgement was delivered) we had patiently waited for the implementation of the National Industrial Court judgement by the Federal Government, to no avail.
“In January 2017, there was an ultimatum and one week strike action embarked upon by the Joint Action Committee of NAAC, NASU and SSANU following which a conciliation meeting was facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on 18th January 2017. Among other issues, it was agreed in an MOU signed at the end of the meeting that an Inter-Ministerial Committee of Government would be set up to facilitate the implementation of the judgement of the National Industrial Court on this matter (see attachment 11).
“To our dismay and shock however, via an FGN 2018 Personnel Budget Call circular dated May 5, 2017 and signed by Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, the same offending clause directing that the personnel and teachers of staff schools affiliated to institutions and agencies should on no account be included in the nominal rolls of such institutions and agencies. Appropriate sanctions will be applied to defaulting agencies as such action will be treated as introduction of ghost workers (see attachment 111).
“It is imperative that the application of the directive in the Budget Call circular in respect of university staff schools would not only be a violation of FGN/unions 2009 Agreements, which was a product of collective bargaining, but also a disobedience of a court judgement. We hereby call on the Federal Government, through the Honourable Minister of Education, that as a democratic government which promotes and upholds the rule of law, the workers and members of university system domiciled in the university staff schools, are exempted from the directive in the Budget Call circular and they should be rightfully included in the nominal rolls of the various institutions.”
The prayer of the unions are:
- That the offending FGN 2018 Budget Call Circular be withdrawn from the universities and inter-university centres.
- That all staff school workers disengaged as a result of the directive be recalled and paid all their entitlements with immediate effect;
- That the staff school workers who had been removed from the nominal rolls of their respective universities and inter-university centres be returned with immediate effect;
- That those who had been place (sic) on half salary as a result of this development be paid their full salaries with outstanding arrears forthwith.
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