Striking members of the three main non-teaching staff unions of the nation’s universities yesterday protested at the National Assembly to draw attention to their plight. The workers have been on strike for the last three months.
The unions operating under Joint Action Committee (JAC) are made of Non Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Academic of Nigerian Universities(SSANU) National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
The workers, Non-Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities during the protest called on the federal government to ensure full and proper implementation of the 2009 agreement.
Chairman of Joint Action Committee (JAC),Mr Samson Ugwoke, lamented the neglect of the workers.
Ugwoke said that the continuous reneging of the 2009 agreement and other memorandum of understandings entered with the unions was affecting the effective running of the university system.
He noted that the unions have had several meetings with the federal government with no tangible results.
According to him, “We deem it imperative to draw your attention to the ongoing strike action embarked upon by the non-teaching staff unions based on our demands for the full proper implementation of our 2009 agreement.
“The specific issues are the reinstatement of our members in the university staff schools, who were removed from the budget of the universities based on obnoxious budget call circular from National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.
“This is in gross contravention of the 2009 agreement with federal government and we have gone to the National Industrial Court that has also ruled in our favour.
“Also, the issue of payment of Earned Allowance where a sum of N23 billion was released by government in Sept 2017, was skewed in favour of a sister union by some government officers.
“Thereby leaving 11 per cent of the said amount to the non-teaching staff. We also have the issue of shortfalls in salary payment.This have made our members to be receiving fractions of their salaries for upward of a year now, ‘’he said.
The JAC chairman also noted the issue of career progression for Technologists to CONTISS 14 and 15, in line with the agreement reached with NAAT.
He also noted usurpation of non-teaching career positions by academic staff and corruption in the university system.
Ugwoke said that JAC had further signed two different MoUs with federal government through the minister of Labour to no avail.
Earlier, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Mr Ayuba Wabba, said the protest has become necessary as federal government kept reneging on its promises.
Wabba said that the university system is facing a lot of challenges such as corruption and injustice, among others.
“So, the strike must continue until justice is done because the sector needed more attention as they have not been able to receive the desired attention it deserved.
“We must do everything possible for this sector to achieve the desired results. It must be a priority of government and all stakeholders as it involves national development,” he said.
In his remarks the director,Tertiary Education in the Ministry of Education,Mr Joel Ojo, said that the ministry was doing all to ensure that the issues affecting the university system is resolved immediately.
Ojo said the ministry was interfacing with the National Assembly and that modalities have been put in place to resolve the ongoing strike and make sure normalcy returned to the universities.
“I want to assure you that the federal government is committed and I want to plead with you to give us some time, ‘’he said.
Sen. Bukar Abba-Ibrahim, who represent the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said that the challenges facing the workers had been noted.
“So I want to assure you that we are going to fight corruption in the universities squarely.‘’he added.
Sen Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central assured the workers that NASS would definitely resolve the issues.
“I assure you in the name of the struggle and in the name of the Nigerian people that I will pursue your demand to logical conclusion, ‘’he said.