No sooner had the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) on Wednesday, 23rd December, 2020 “conditionally” suspended its strike, ending a protracted industrial action that started since March 2020 than the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, and the Non-Academic Staff Union started their own strike, February, 5.
Despondency, disappointment and anxiety have pervaded the University communities as students of the institution express concern over another round of strike by the non-academic staff.
Just yesterday, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State grounded academic and non-academic activities on the campus insisting that their demand ranging from federal government’s handling of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, the sharing formula of the N40 billion earned academic allowances and the non-payment of arrears of the new minimum wage among others be met. The workers said they were joining the nationwide strike embarked on by their colleagues in other universities. The entrance of the institution was barricaded.
It was also observed that various units in the University, such as exams and records, bursary, registry, estate and works, Library, ICT, physical planning, FUTO staff schools and even security offices were locked. The monitoring team of the Joint Action Committee which comprised the SSANU and the NASU of FUTO led by JAC and SSANU Chairman, Uchenna Nwokeji described the compliance with the strike action as total.
He said, “This strike is going well in FUTO. As you can see, the Senate Building is shut. FUTO is in support of this strike wholeheartedly. There is no water in the hostels because our people are not working.
“However, we are pained that this is going to affect our children again. We don’t want our children to remain at home. But we can’t help it because most of our union members have not been paid for months because of the IPPIS challenge. “University of Ilorin, was not left out as the branch of NASU, SSANU members blocked UNILORIN main gate as nationwide strike continues insisting that the federal government should meet up with their demands.
However, conciliation meeting between non academic workers in government owned universities and the ministry of education has just ended in Abuja. At the end of the four-hour meeting, the joint action committee of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non Academic Staff Union said it would communicate government’s offer to its members and get back in 48 hours.
It would be recalled that on the 5th February, Mohammed Ibrahim, the SSANU president, and Peters Adeyemi, NASU general-secretary called out the Joint Action committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Academic Union of Universities and the Non Academic Staff Union to commence an indefinite strike over what they termed failure of the government to meet their demands.
Recall that the unions had earlier threatened to embark on industrial action over the federal government’s handling of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as well as the sharing formula of the N40 billion earned academic allowances.
They also cited the non-payment of minimum wage arrears/retirement benefits to ex-members, non-constitution of visitation panels to varsities, poor funding, and teaching staff usurping the headship of the non-teaching units.
Lagos state also joined the strike as the management of the Lagos State University, LASU, has postponed outstanding papers in the ongoing first semester examination.
A statement by the Coordinator, Centre for Information Press and Public Relations, CIPPR, Mr Ademola Adekoya, last Tuesday said the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oyedamola Oke, approved the postponement of the examination until further notice. “This became necessary due to the ongoing national industrial action embarked upon by some staff unions of the university which has affected all academic activities in the university. “Students, parents and other stakeholders are hereby informed of the postponement of all the remaining examination until further notice pending the time the national industrial action is called off by the unions.
To ensure that academic activities start across the institutions in the country, there is need for both the unions and government to come to a compromise to bring to rest the issues of the matter so that the teachers and students can go back to school.