The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday warned the Federal Government against compromising the current industrial peace in the country.
GoldenNewsNg reports that It reacted to the decision of the Federal Government to pay her members half salaries for the month of October, 2022, alleging that some notorious agents of the ruling class were bent on provoking the union.
ASUU’s reaction which is a fallout of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja between Monday and Tuesday, also condemned in strong terms the decision of government to pay them pro-rata, indirectly portraying them as daily paid or casual workers.
In a statement signed by Emmanuel Osodeke, President of ASUU, and made available to newsmen, the union only suspended its eight months strike because of the intervention of the National Industrial Court (NIC) as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The statement read, “The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) suspended its eight-month strike on 14th October, 2022, in obedience to the order of the National Industrial Court and in further consideration of intervention efforts of well-meaning Nigerians, including the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
“The action of the union was a display of manifest trust in the judiciary and other institutions and organs of government to always put national interest above all other considerations.
“This we believe, as a union of thinkers, intellectuals, and patriots, will not only aid the process of amicable resolution of the crisis, but will also set the tone for smooth industrial relations between government and Nigerian workers at large.
“Unfortunately, the response of government towards ASUU’s demonstration of trust was the so-called ‘pro-rata’ payment for eighteen days as the October 2022 salaries of academics thereby portraying them as daily paid workers!
“This is not only an aberration, but a contravention of all known rules of engagement in any contract of employment for academics the world over.
“At an emergency meeting of the ASUU’s National Executive Committee (NEC), held on Monday, 7th November, 2022, the union deliberated on developments since the suspension of the strike.
“NEC noted with dismay that paying academics on “pro-rata” basis, like casual workers, is unprecedented in the history of university oriented labour relations and therefore condemned this attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers in its entirety.
“NEC commends the membership of ASUU for their perseverance in the face of untold hardship and unwarranted provocation by some notorious agents of the ruling class.
“NEC further appeals for the understanding of Nigerian students, parents and other genuinely concerned individuals and groups while the union continues to pursue positive resolution of this avoidable crisis within the ambit of legality without compromising the interests and welfare of Nigerian intellectuals”.
Last week, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, released a statement dismissing reports of selective treatment, half salary payment to ASUU members.
The statement signed by Olajide Oshundun, Head of Press and Public Relations, on behalf of the ministry, dismissed media reports, alleging bias in the payment of salaries of members of the ASUU.
The ministry equally faulted a statement by the chairperson of ASUU, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) branch, Muhammad N. Al-Mustapha, accusing the minister of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of the union.
“Those obviously being referred to by the UDUS ASUU chairperson were members of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association (MDCAN) who abstained from the eight-month strike of ASUU because they abhorred the incessant strikes by the union and the grave effects on medical education in Nigeria and production of more medical doctors.
“Accusing the Honourable Ministerof LabourandEmployment, Sen. ChrisNgige, of biased payment of salaries to selected professionalmembersof ASUU is a barefaced distortion of facts. Mustapha said he received information that a segment of the staff in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) has been paid seven months of their withheld salaries from March to September, due to a letter written to the Ministerof Finance, instructing the exemption of the under-listedstaff ontheapplicationof ‘No Work, No Pay’ rule.
“To set the records straight, the medical lecturers who are being referred to by the chairperson of ASUU UDUS branch, abstained from the eight-month strike of ASUU. This has been corroborated in a press statement by the chairman, MDCAN UDUS, Dr. B. Jubrin and Secretary, Dr. I. G Ango, on Friday, November 4, 2022.”
Quoting from Dr. Jubrin’s press statement, “Realising the emergency situation in the sub-region worsened by emerging public health threats, the medical and dental lecturers in UDUS decided to continue the academic activities during the ASUU strike to save our healthcare from total collapse. To this end, the UDUS medical lecturers agreed to conduct lectures and examinations during the period of the strike.
“In line with the provisions of the Labour Act, we wrote and sought the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, to ensure payment of our salaries. The minister, having carefully reviewed our submission and that of the university management, obliged. This is not an act of favouritism as alleged by ASUU, UDUS branch leadership in their press statement.”
Consequently, the ministry dismissed the accusation of selective treatment in payment of salaries to ASUU members, urging the media to cross check their facts to avoid feeding the public with the wrong information.
But some of the lecturers who confided in Daily Independent on anonymity, said these grievances informed their NEC meeting in Abuja, which ended early Tuesday morning.