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No agreement with FG, strike not ending soon – ASUU, SSANU, NASU

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No agreement with FG, strike not ending soon – ASUU, SSANU, NASU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Joint Action Committee of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have said the Federal Government did not reach a strong agreement with them that can lead to calling off the industrial actions.

All the university unions in the country are presently on strike.

ASUU started its strike on February 14, 2022 and JAC commenced its own on April 14, 2022.

The unions embarked on industrial actions while demanding improved welfare packages, better working conditions and implementation of various labour agreements signed with the Federal Government between 2009 and 2020.

The national leaders of ASUU and JAC of SSANU and NASU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke and Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, respectively told our correspondent that the Federal Government and all stakeholders in the education sector and religious leaders had a meeting with the four unions but no strong agreements were reached.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, was quoted in a report at the weekend as saying, “We had a cordial and fruitful discussion; we looked at the issues dispassionately and reached some agreements, to the satisfaction of everybody in attendance.”

But Osodeke said Ngige’s claim after the meeting that the unions would call off the ongoing strike this week was a political statement.

He said, “We are not aware that we are calling off the strike. We met but there was nothing concrete between us and the government. Like we said before, we do not want promises, we want actions, if they show action and implement all the issues, we will go to our members, but knowing their antecedents, we know they will not do anything.

“They promised us since December 2020 and it is going to a year and a half, they have not done anything. We are waiting for them.

“As far as we are concerned, only when they sign our agreements, accept UTAS, release EAA and revitalisation funds will we call the strikes off.”

Ibrahim added that the major progress he could point at during the meeting was the ordering of the National Information Technology Development Agency, by the presidency who was represented by the Chief of Staff to the President and Chairman of the meeting, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, to subject the three payment solutions; Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system , University Transparency and Accountability Solution and University Peculiar Payroll Payment System, to integrity test and submit in three weeks.

“We are not talking about calling off strike now,” he said.

NYSC, varsities to review timetable after strike

Meanwhile, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB), and universities will meet later to harmonise timetable and rollout calendar for the mobilisation of graduates for the mandatory National Youth Service and 2022 admissions following the disruption in the academic calendar as a result of the ongoing industrial actions, The Harmattan News has learnt.

The Secretary-General of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof Yakubu Ochefu, disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH.

He said the heads of JAMB, NYSC and universities would meet to ensure synchronisation of timetables once the strike is called off.

Ochefu said, “If we recall, in 2020, when we had a similar situation, all the parties adjusted their rollout calendars.

“NYSC, JAMB, and the Universities will work together to synchronise their timetables.

“Their leaders will surely meet to review the timelines immediately after the strike is called off.”

Also, the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Kwara State, has said that it has started mediating in the dispute between ASUU and the Federal Government.

The Director-General of MINILS, Issa Aremu, revealed this in Ilorin while responding to questions on the strike.

“ASUU issues with the Federal Government are labour issues which are technical; the ministers could not resolve them because they lack skills to meditate on the industrial dispute. “There are two issues; dispute of rights and dispute of interest. While ASUU is on a course on the dispute of rights, it is wrong for it to go on strike on the dispute of interest which includes the system of salary payment,” he said.

Aremu, who described the shutting down of universities as worrisome, said, “We are meeting with stakeholders in the education sector, including ASUU, government, students, and parents to ensure that schools are opened. Nigeria cannot meet the development agenda if it continues with the incessant strike by workers.”

He advised workers to always exhaust social dialogue to resolve issues, warning that they should not use strike as a weapon to fight for their rights.

Also, the National Universities Commission has blamed the delay in the take off of projects on the delay in disbursement of funds by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the industrial actions by university-based unions and the revised budget system in 2022.

The NUC Coordinator, Special Projects, Dr. Joshua Atah, disclosed this while giving an update on the work plan of the Federal Government’s Sustainable Procurement Environmental and Social Standards Enhancement project.

Attah, in the NUC’s bulletin made available to The Harmattan News on Sunday in Abuja, was quoted as saying that the commission is engaging with stakeholders to ensure smooth running of the project.

 

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Education

NUT faults sacking of 2,357 teachers by Kaduna govt

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NUT faults sacking of 2,357 teachers by Kaduna govt

The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has faulted the sacking of 2,357 teachers by the Kaduna State government allegedly failing a competence test organised by the government.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the NUT at a meeting held in Abuja on Wednesday, lamented decision of the Kaduna State Government to sack teachers, including its National President, Audu Amba, who was also affected in the mass dismissal.

In a communique released at the end of the meeting, the NUT Deputy National President, Kelvin Nwankwo, said the sack which came following the refusal by Amba and some teachers to write the competency test, was unacceptable to the union.

“It is pertinent to state that the Kaduna State Government’s purported Competency Test was held during the pendency of Suit No NICN/54/2021 before the National Industrial Court, Kaduna Division.

“Furthermore, the purported dismissal of 2,357 teachers was done during the pendency of another Motion on Notice,” the NUT statement said.

“We are teachers and best suited to know the concept of test administration which is a settled and accepted tool for the assessment of the performance of a learner in his or her educational career.

“However, this lofty tool has been maliciously bastardised and abused in Kaduna State. It has been deployed as an instrument of vendetta targeted at labour leaders who dared to perform their statutory and historical role of advocating the advancement of the welfare of teachers.

“The National Executive Council (NEC) of our great Union in good faith had in accordance with international best practices in the teaching profession, advocated that the Kaduna State Government should rather embark on a continuous teacher training programme.

“It is very sad and curious that the dismissal letter relative to the NUT President was in the public domain via the social media even when it has not been served on him.

“The intention clearly is to intimidate the NUT President and embarrass the teachers in Nigeria.

“The union will continue to perform its historical role of defending the rights of teachers in Nigeria and no amount of anti labour policies of the Kaduna State Government and elsewhere can diminish this resolve.

“The NUT family reaffirms its commitment to stand with its revered president, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, and all the teachers in Kaduna State,” the communique said.

 

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Education

FG Continues Talks With ASUU As Strike Enters Fourth Month

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FG Continues Talks With ASUU As Strike Enters Fourth Month

The Federal Government has continued its negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as the strike by the lecturers enters its fourth month.

A meeting between the striking lecturers and the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee, however, ended without a concrete agreement as members planned to reconvene within 24 hours to consider a draft agreement.

Talks between both parties were held on Monday at the Nigeria University Commission (NUC) in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A senior member of the union who attended the meeting told The Harmattan News that they reached some agreements with the Federal Government, but members had to break and reconvene within 24 hours to consider the new terms in the draft agreement.

The Federal Government set up the committee led by Professor Briggs on March 7 with a three-month mandate to renegotiate the 2009 ASUU/Federal Government agreement.

The government had tasked the committee to ensure the renegotiation brings an end to the ongoing industrial action by the university lecturers.

Three months after it was inaugurated, the committee met with the lecturers but also failed to reach a final agreement that could end the strike that has crippled academic activities across government-owned universities.

ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as the payment system in the university sector.

Members also decried the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the inability of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers, among other issues.

Since the industrial action began, several negotiations between the union and the government have ended in deadlock – a situation that was condemned by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).

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Education

Talks with FG panel over strike fruitless – SSANU

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Talks with FG panel over strike fruitless – SSANU

The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has said no tangible achievement was recorded at the Federal Government Renegotiation Panel.

Speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, the National Vice-President, SSANU, Dr. Abdussobur Salaam, said the panel met only once with SSANU since it was inaugurated on March 7, 2022.

The Harmattan News had reported that the committee, which was chaired by the Pro-Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Emeritus Prof. Nimi Briggs, was given three months to conclude the renegotiation with the four university unions and send the report to Federal Government.

The committee’s timeline ended on Monday.

It is believed that the committee will submit its report to the Federal Government this week or get an extension.

But Salaam explained that the Briggs committee’s engagements with SSANU had been minimal and the timeline was not being adhered to.

He said, “Within the three months timeline, SSANU has only had one meeting with the Briggs renegotiation team. The meeting was held on Friday, April 8, 2022. Today, being June 7, makes it exactly two months ago.

“At the meeting, nothing tangible was put on the table. No offer was made by the government, particularly on improved conditions of service and welfare of our members.

“The government’s side seems not to be sure of itself and groping in the dark as far as its mandate is concerned.

“As of now, we have no reason to express satisfaction because even the paces of the discussions have been too slow. If it has taken two months after the first meeting with SSANU and no meeting has been called, it gives room to doubt the willingness and capacity of the committee to deliver on its mandate.”

He suggested that the panel be properly empowered to take decisions on behalf of the government.

Salaam said, “The Committee should be properly empowered to take decisions on behalf of the government. To be breathed down upon by government officials as the engagements with the committee suggest is not good for confidence building. They should show that they have a mandate to commit on behalf of the government.

“Similarly, the committee appears not to take cognisance of the timelines in the discharge of its assignment. Whatever the bottlenecks militating against the timelines should be removed.

“If we have only had one meeting within the three months timeline with nothing tangible being put on the table, it leaves much to be desired and it is highly unfortunate.”

When our correspondent contacted Briggs on the telephone for reactions on SSANU’s complaints and other issues, he declined comment, saying, “I don’t react to anything on telephone.”

SSANU’s strike started with a warning strike of two weeks which commenced on March 27, 2021, while the extension of another two weeks commenced on Sunday, April 10, 2022.

The union’s demands include the inconsistent issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, unpaid earned allowances, and delay in the renegotiation of FGN, NASU, SSANU agreements, and non-payment of minimum wage arrears.

Others include neglect and poor funding of state universities, non-payment of retirement benefits to outgoing members of the unions, and usurpation of the headship of non-teaching units in clear violation of conditions of service and establishment procedures, among others.

 

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