The over 78-day industrial action by research workers under the aegis of Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Union (JORAISU) and poor funding of the over 26 research institutes in the country have grounded research activities across the country.
JORAISU, the umbrella body for the three trade unions in Nigeria’s research institutes, namely: National Academic Sta Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Senior Sta Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institution (SSAUTHRIAI) and Academic Sta Union of Research Institutes, embarked on an inde nite strike on November 14, 2017.
Since the strike, activities at the various institutes have been grounded.
The strike, according to JORAISU, was provoked by the failure of the federal government to keep its part of an agreement reached with the body over unpaid 12 months arrears and other issues since 2011.
The unresolved issues include payment of 53.7% salary increase, withdrawal of circular on non-skipping of salary grade level 10, retirement age of 65 years for non-research sta as obtainable in the universities, peculiar allowances and adequate funding of research institutes, among others.
Checks by our reporter showed that the agitation for the negotiation of a separate salary structure for the Research and Allied Institutions commenced in year 2009 while government constituted a negotiating committee in year 2010. After several meetings, an agreement was signed with Research and Allied Institutions unions in January 2011.
According to documents made available to LEADERSHIP Friday, the unions have held 30 meetings with the federal government between April 29, 2010 and November 14, 2016, and a total of 140-day ultimatum had been issued by JORAISU.
Checks by our reporter also revealed that the unions have accumulated strikes of more than 200 days in the last seven years as a result of the agitation.
Checks by our reporter showed that there has been total compliance with the strike by most workers of research institutes.
For instance, at the Ibadan o ce of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), it was observed that while the junior sta members were seen carrying out essential services like watering cocoa plants, there was total compliance among the senior sta .
Also, at the Institute of Tripanozomiasis, Suleja branch, workers were seen rendering skeletal services not related to research.
The situation was not di erent at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos. O ces were locked and there was no human activity. The situation was not di erent at the Centre for Management and Development at Magodo.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Friday, ASURI national secretary, Theophilus Ndubuaku, lamented the total neglect of research institutes and researchers in the country. He said successive governments have refused to provide funds for researchers, which has dimmed their ability to carry out researches
“Researchers use half of their salaries to do research so that they can get results which they can present to get promotion. You must use your money to fund your training, or else you will stagnate for 15 to 20 years on one salary grade.
“To publish a paper alone, you must have N100,000. And now to conduct research to produce the paper, you must spend hundreds of thousands of naira,” he noted.
It appears the end is not yet in sight as the general secretary of the Non-Academic Sta Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peter Adeyemi, has vowed that the union would not suspend the ongoing strike until the N9 billion arrears owed the workers is settled by the federal government.
He said: “The non-implementation of the agreement we reached with the federal government in 2010 is the reason we decided to go into this action. It has gotten to a stage where we have to take our collective destinies in our own hands.
“It is unfortunate that we are in a country where the government is paying lip service to research and development. Developed
economies of the world focus more on research for economic breakthroughs because there is no country that can develop without research. Therefore, our research institutes would be shut down until our demands are fully met.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday threatened to embark on strike if defaulting state governors failed to clear salary arrears of its members.
The national president of the union, Mr Michael Olukoya, said this in Abuja yesterday at the solemn assembly organised by the union.
Olukoya listed the states owing salary arrears to include Abia, Bayelsa, Benue, Ekiti, Kwara, Ondo, Taraba, Delta, Kaduna, Osun, Nasarawa, Oyo and Kogi.
“The leadership of the NUT wishes to again express our displeasure over continued non- payment of salaries and allowances of primary and secondary school teachers in several states across the country.
“This is in spite of our earlier call on all defaulting states to pay up the backlogs of salaries and allowances owed teachers to galvanise e ective academic activities in our schools.
“We shall embark on strike on two things and on two occasions – one is on non- payment of salaries and two is the decay in the laboratories in schools.
“We call on the a ected state governments to clear the salary arrears and ensure regular payment of the salaries of teachers without further delay.’’
Olukoya said though Benue owes teachers’ arrears, the union would not allow its members in the state to join the upcoming industrial action.
“So the needful will be done to our members in the state. We need to identify with them as a result of that.
“They will not join the nationwide strike until their case is debated on at the national level,” he said.
The president also condemned the recent sack of over 21,000 primary school teachers by Kaduna State government.
He said the sack was done without recourse to the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria, an agency mandated to regulate and control the teaching profession in the country.
“We hereby express our dismay over this show of impunity and lack of respect for the rule of law.
“We call on the government of Kaduna State to rescind its decision and seek closer ties with relevant bodies and stakeholders and work towards the amicable resolution of the issues,’’ he said.
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