Wednesday’s suspension of the protracted strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) might not restore industrial harmony in public varsities after all.
Three other unions of non-academic members of staff have rejected the sharing formula adopted for the N40 billion approved by the Federal Government as Earned Academic Allowance (EAA).
The unions are – the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, (SSANU); Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
They accused the government of allocating about 75 per cent of the N40 billion EAA to ASUU, leaving the three other unions with only 25 per cent to share among their members.
The unions said they will not resume in January when universities reopen unless the Federal Government corrected the “imbalance.”
National President of NAAT Ibeji Nwokomma said anyone thinking that the non-teaching staff unions in the universities would resume with the recent development was day-dreaming
Nwokoma argued that the discrepancy in the sharing of the N40 billion contradicts the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Federal government and NAAT on November 18 during a conciliatory meeting called by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Nwokoma said: “My union is rejecting the sharing formula of the Earned Allowances as it is being done by the government. Government has allocated 75 per cent to ASUU and 25 per cent to all other non-teaching unions in the universities. This is grossly inadequate.
“That is robbing Peter to pay Paul and using divide and rule in the university system. No union, not even ASUU, has the monopoly of opening or closing of schools through strike. Other unions also have that capacity to ensure that the system does not work.
“Secondly, my union, ASUU and other unions negotiated with the government, so, payment of Earned Allowances will be based on unions, it should be on the basis of the 2009 Agreement; that is where the Earned Allowances is derived from. Lumping my union with other non – teaching staff is neither here nor there and totally unacceptable to us.
“We have an MoU with the government just signed on November 15, which says that government should clearly define what should go to go to each union and government agreed that it was going to do that and today they just shared the money anyhow without adhering to the MoU.
“My union is asking that our own Earned Allowances should be specified, whatever it is should be specified just like they did to ASUU. If nothing is done, we will close down the system until we are fairly treated.
He said he was making efforts to get in touch with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, to draw the ministry’s attention to the brewing crisis.
National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Haruna Ibrahim, said his union would not take the lopsided sharing formula.
He said, ” I believe that this remains a rumour even though I know it could be true, I have seen 75 per cent and 25 per cent.
“But if that is it, we have stated in no uncertain terms that we will not take this kind of lopsided allocations again because what is the scientific measurement used to give this money. We have stated before now that the least we can take is 50-50, they are not more in numbers.
“And even if they want to do something like that maybe this is my own personal opinion, I may not insist on 50-50 but at least something reasonable. We have so many numbers.
“If they give for example 60-40, do you think the noise will be there? Government does not want peace if it is giving 75 per cent to only one union and giving 25 per cent to three unions, does it make sense?
“Certainly, my members are more than willing to down tools if this becomes a reality.”
The Federal Government has agreed to pay all withheld salaries of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members who had not enrolled in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) between December to January, 2021.
The government, through the Office of the Accountant – General of the Federation also agreed to release the N40 billion as EAA by end of this month.
It offered to release N30 billion for revitalization of the universities as part of one tranche of N220 billion on or before January 31 2021, as a sign of commitment to the MoU it signed in 2013.
The government said the withheld salaries would be paid in installment because of “special management of funds.”
It also agreed that all members of ASUU who have been omitted from payment between February and June and from June to December shall be paid their salaries as soon as their respective universities updated their lists
The list includes those on sabbatical leave.
According to the federal government, payment of check off dues of ASUU will start by next week.
These are some of the agreements reached between the leadership of ASUU and the federal government team led by Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige at a meeting on Tuesday.
Announcing the suspension of the strike after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Wednesday, ASUU President Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi warned that the union would resume the strike without notice should the government fail to implement the agreement as contained in the communique it signed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Ogunyemi said: “On the basis of the fore-going, the NEC resolved that the current strike by the union should be suspended conditionally with effect from 12:01 am Thursday, 24, 2020.