As members of the non-teaching staff of universities, under the aegis of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), begin a three-day nationwide protest with effect from Tuesday, Nigeria’s federal government said that it has addressed most of the issues raised by the university workers.
It also warned that it will enforce the no-work, no-pay rule if they embarked on the industrial action.
Reacting to the threat by the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) to embark on the three-day protest, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, told THISDAY on Monday that all the demands of the workers are currently being addressed.
He added that if the workers embark on their planned “forcible holiday” their employers might be right to deduct their salaries.
NASU and SSANU had said their protest was to express their displeasure over the refusal of the federal government to address their grievances.
In a statement at the weekend by the Joint Action Committee of SSANU and NASU, and signed by NASU General Secretary, Peter Adeyemi and SSANU President, Mohammed Ibrahim, the unions said they had resolved to embark on the protest to be held simultaneously at all the branches nationwide from today to Thursday.
Among the grievances listed by the unions are the non- payment of arrears of their earned allowances, non- payment of arrears of minimum wage, non-payment of arrears of pension and gratuities.
Others include inconsistencies in the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and delays in renegotiation of the agreement reached between the federal government and the unions in 2009.
But Ngige told THISDAY that there is no reason for the workers’ protest as virtually all their demands have either been addressed or are being addressed.
“I see no reason for the workers’ protest. A lot of things they are talking about have been taken care of,” he said.
Ngige said for instance, the federal government has inaugurated the committee on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement with the university staff, which has commenced work.
On the issue of earned allowances, Ngige said N40 billion has been paid into the account of the National Universities Commission (NUC) for onward disbursement to the institutions after verification of claims.
He added that the workers’ complaints on the inconsistencies in the implementation of the IPPIS were being addressed.
According to him, nobody in the university system has been paid consequential adjustment, adding that even ASUU’s case is still being handled.
“The workers’ complaint with regards to the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage is being attended to and they are doing that through the bursar’s office of the respective universities. I do not see any reason for the three-day protest by the workers, maybe they want to take a forcible holiday and if they do take a forcible holiday, their employers might be right to deduct it from their salaries,” Ngige stated.