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Varsity non-teaching staff to commence warning strike Monday

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The Non-academic staff of Nigerian universities may ground the nation’s university system from Monday barring any last minute changes as the federal government failed to meet the demand of the workers and implement agreements reached between them and the government.

The National leadership of the Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational institutions, NASU and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU have placed the various branches on stand by for eventual strike.

The unions have been waiting for the intervention of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan who had scheduled a meeting with them, but the meeting could not hold as the union leaders were caught up in the protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria which took the life of an Assistant Commissioner of Police.

The strike according to the unions has become imperative following the alleged poor response from the Federal Government, to meet their demands after the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum to government.

Thy had asked the government to, within 14 days address the issue of Earned Allowances, sacked workers of Staff Schools or they will shut down the universities, after series of protest across the country.

In a circular to all the branches after their meeting, the Joint Action Committee of the two unions said that at the expiration of the 14-days ultimatum, if the federal government failed to address all their grievances, they would be left with no other option than withdrawing their services and shutting down the universities.

The circular titled “Notice of Industrial Action”, which was signed by the Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke and the General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, lamented the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government towards addressing their grievances and obeying court judgment.

The circular read, “This is to inform you that the Joint Action Committee, JAC of NASU and SSANU met today, Thursday 1st August, 2019, to consider the issues which led to the Nationwide protest in our various branches, viz, Payment of Earned Allowances, University Staff Schools matter, Renegotiation of 2009 FGN/Unions Agreement among others.

“After extensive deliberations, JAC further observed that no date has been rescheduled by the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ahmed Lawan for the meeting with the leadership of JAC national.

“The meeting earlier scheduled by the Federal Ministry of Education with the leadership of JAC national has been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 7, 2019 with no reason(s) stated.

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“From the foregoing, JAC national has resolved as follows that a 14-Day ultimatum of Industrial action be given to the Federal Government of Nigeria to address the pending issues with effect from Monday, 5th August, 2019. During the period of the ultimatum, all branches are hereby directed to carry out peaceful protest on Tuesday, 6th August, 2019 and Thursday, 15th August, 2019 respectively.

“At the expiration of the 14-days ultimatum, Sunday 18th August 2019, without any positive response from the Federal Government of Nigeria, members shall proceed on a 5-day warning strike in all branches from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August, 2019, inclusive.

“You are therefore directed to properly mobilize our members for this action. All defaulting branches shall be sanctioned accordingly.”

According to reports, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Sonny Ochono on Wednesday last week met with the JAC where the issues in contention were extensively discussed and decisions reached.

Chairman of JAC, Comrade Ugwoke said the Permanent Secretary who was with the Directors in the ministry promised to send a draft of the decisions reached at the meeting to the unions, but after waiting for the government without any response, the non-teaching staff appears ready to carry out with their threat.

The National Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Comrade Salaam Abdussobur told journalists on Friday that the one week strike would commence on Monday.

He said, “Based on the poor response from the Federal Government, it is inevitable that a one week strike action shall be held as from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August. This is following the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum given to the Federal Government.

“We met with the officials of the Federal Ministry of Education led by the Permanent Secretary last week. While the meeting appeared successful on its face value, the resolutions are yet to be backed up by any correspondence or digest as agreed at the meeting

“This is not the first time that meetings would be held and we would take them by their words only to be disappointed by their actions.

“Our members, being our principals, have contended that for all decisions reached with Government, there must be a level of corresponding actions that show their sincerity and commitment to those decisions. If the actions do not correspond, we must continue with our agitations.

“So, a five-day warning, being part of the activities lined up in our agitations, have been resolved to proceed between 19th and 23rd. After the warning strike, another review shall be made which would determine the way forward.

Among the contentious areas included the Earned Allowances which the non-teaching staff unions claimed that they were short-changed in the sharing formula. They said that out of the N23 billion released to the four unions in the university, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, allegedly took over about eighty percent of the money, leaving only twenty percent for the three unions.

They also lamented the inability of the government to obey court judgment especially the judgment of the Industrial Court in 2016 that directed government to reinstate sacked workers of Staff Schools which has not been complied with and the re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement.

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