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Allowances: Preferential treatments for ASUU may lead to ‘mother of all strikes,’ SSANU, NASU warn FG

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Non-teaching staff of the Nigerian Universities (NASU) have accused the Federal government of discriminating against them and giving preferential treatment to the Academic staff, warning that unless the government meets their demands, the warning strike which ends on Friday may snowballed into what they called mother of all strike.

They are insisting that the government release the sum of N30 billion to them for payment of their earned allowances, saying giving 80 percent of the money earlier released to the universities to the Academic staff was rather too discriminatory.

The threat of the unions is however coming just as the National Universities Commission issued a circular to Vice Chancellors of all federal Universities on the payment of salaries and arrears of the teachers of University Staff Schools which has been a subject of industrial crisis between the government the unions since 2016.

Addressing news conference on Thursday the Joint Action Committee of led by the National Vice President/zonal chairman of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Comrade Solomon Alfa said that the 5-day warning strike embarked upon last Monday to press home their demands has been very successful.

The two unions which began a five-day warning strike last Monday said that the money is to be used to close the gap created by the discriminatory disbursement of the funds earlier approved for settlement of university workers’ Earned Allowances.

Alfa said the unions were not happy over the alleged discrimination by the government in disbursing N25 billion allocated to Federal Universities in the country, with the Academic staff alone taking 80 percent of the money.

They also want the government to immediately reopen renegotiation with them on the 2009 agreement which he said was long overdue for renegotiation.

According to him, the unions were protesting the continued discriminatory practice by government in favour of the academic staff in the sharing of money meant for payment of earned allowances.

“Consequently, the JAC of SSANU and NASU is demanding the sum of N30 billion from the Federal Government for payment to the non-teaching staff in order to close the gap it created by the discriminatory allocations.

“Thereafter JAC expects that government will not allow such dichotomy to raise its ugly head in the system against after defraying the balance.”

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Alfa said that the unions decided to give further update on the warning strike embarked upon last Monday, is also an opportunity for the unions to create awareness and urge Nigerians to prevail on the government to do something urgently to prevent “mother of all strikes” in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

“This repeated discriminatory practice by government of the day in favour of ASUU and against the non-teaching staff is not only worrisome but has portrayed the present government as bias as well as well as causing divide and rule capable of creating disharmony in the system as an avenue to crumble and kill the university education system.

“Therefore, the JAC of SSANU and NASU is calling on all Nigerians to condemn this act of government with a view to correcting itself.

When asked to comment on the reappointment of Senator Chris Ngige as Minister of Labour and Employment, Alfa said that the unions are ready to cooperate with him, but that he should try to avoid past mistakes so as to ensure harmony in the sector.

However, the unions acknowledged that the Federal Government has restored the sacked employees of University Staff Schools to their jobs through a circular it said has been issued to the various institutions.

However, investigations revealed that the federal government has already yielded to the pressure of the unions and directed that teaching staff of university staff schools be included on the payroll of universities henceforth.

Implementation of the 2016 judgement of the National industrial court on the status of university staff schools has been one of the demands of the unions.

In a circular dated 20th August, 2019 addressed to the Vice Chancellor and signed by a Director in the Executive Secretary’s office, Chris Maiyaki, the National Universities Commission directs the Vice Chancellors to liaise with the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for the release of funds for the payment of arrears of salaries of the affected workers.

The commission also direct that adequate provisions be made in the 2020 budget of the various universities for the purpose of paying the affected workers in line with the judgement of the National Industrial Court.

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