By Michael Oche, Abuja
Workers in research institutes across the country under the aegis of Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Unions (JORAISU).
The three main unions in the research institutes include involved in the strike action include the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) and the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI).
The workers said their decision to embark on the strike action include the failure of government to implement fully the Agreement it signed with the Unions in the Research and Allied Institutions since January, 2011.
Addressing a joint press conference in Abuja, NASU General Secretary, Com. Peters A. Adeyemi, ASURI General Secretary Com. Theo Ndubuaku and SSAUTHRIAI General Secretary, Com. M. O. Akinade said after several failed promises and expiration of various ultimatum, the workers have now lost their patience.
According to Adeyemi who briefed on behalf of the unions, the agitation for negotiation of a separate salary structure for the Research and Allied Institutions for commenced in year 2009 and in year 2010 Government constituted a negotiating Committee.
He said other issues that have been panding includes, Non-payment of outstanding 12 months arrears of CONRAISS, Approval of the reviewing conditions of services, Non-implementation of the Retirement Age of 65 years.
Others include demand for the withdrawal of circular on non-skipping of CONTISS 10, payment of Peculiar/Earned Allowance, establishment of a central body for the effective co-ordination of Research activities in the Research Institutes to be known as National Research Institute Commission (NARICOM) and increased funding of Research Institutes.
He said after several meetings and agreement was signed with the Unions in the Research and Allied Institutions in January, 2011.
He said, “Contrary to the norms and the spirit of negotiation, the Federal Government foisted on the Unions an effective date 1st July, 2010 for the new salary known as Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure (CONRAISS) as against 1st July, 2009 which was the effective date approved for our counterparts in the Universities and even the Colleges of Agriculture under the Research Institutions.
” the effective date of 1st July, 2010 was rejected as can be seen on page 9 of the Agreement signed with the Federal Government. The Unions wrote to the Federal Government formally rejecting this effective date vide its letter dated 23rd May, 2011 asking that the 1st July, 2009 as was given others should apply to the Research and Allied Institutions. The JORAISU equally wrote vide its letter dated 23rd May, 2011 to the Executive Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission on the need to conclude negotiation on the Peculiar/Earned Allowances as agreed to at the negotiation table.
As usual nothing was heard from Government and the Unions met and wrote to the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture via its letter reference JORAISU/Vol.I/08 dated 6th October, 2011 seeking of unimplemented portions of the Agreement and others. The Honourable Minister never responded as expected.
“On 17th October, 2011 via letter reference JORAISU/Vol.I/13, the Unions gave Government a 14-day ultimatum effective 17th October, 2011 to fully address the issue of the unimplemented areas of the Agreement or the Unions will order their members out on a 7-day warning strike action effective 31st October, 2011. The strike was held as planned. After then, nothing happened. On 27th January, 2012 via letter reference JORAISU/Vol.I/13, the Unions wrote to the Secretary to the Federal Government and others on an imminent strike action in the Research and Allied Institutions as a result of Government refusal to implement the Agreement it freely reached with the Unions, giving Government another 14-days ultimatum which expired on 13th February, 2012.
He said as usual the Federal Government ignored the Unions. The Unions resumed the suspended strike action on 13th August, 2012, as a result of which Government constituted another high-powered Committee which spanned another 5 months with no tangible result. This therefore led to the resumption of the suspended strike action again on 4th February, 2013.
Thus haven waited this long without any tangible response from Government on the matter JORAISU finally issued Government a 15 day ultimatum effective 30th October, 2017 within which to implement all our demands failing which JORAISU would have no other option tan to call out the entire workforce in the Research and Allied Institutions sector.