By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Organised Labour has pleaded with the Federal Government to find solutions to crisis in the research institutes and end the over 11-week industrial unrest in the sector.
Specifically, it wants the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Conciliator-in-Chief of the Federation, Senator Chris Ngige, to do the needful by engaging the unions, currently on strike, with a view to getting the dispute resolved amicably.
Under the aegis of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, Labour also decried the poor funding and neglect of public libraries by state governments.
Speaking to Vanguard, President of NASU, Dr. Makolo Hassan, lamented that “the research institutes’ sector is not immune to the industrial relations crisis in the public sector. As we speak, it is now about 11 weeks since the Federal Government foisted a strike on the workers of the sector, under the Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Unions, JORAISU.
“The strike started after two different statutory notices of 15 days each were served on the Federal Government, without any reaction or communication on same to the unions.
“The issues in dispute are woven around the Federal Government’s reluctance or refusal to honour and implement the Collective Bargaining Agreement it freely entered with JORAISU.
“We are therefore appealing to the Federal Government, particularly the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Minister of Science and Technology; Minister of Environment and other Supervisory Ministries of Research Institutes and other Agencies, whose staff are affected as well as the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Conciliator-in-Chief of the Federation, to do the needful by engaging the Unions currently on strike with a view to getting the dispute resolved amicably.”
Dr Hassan also berated state governments for poor funding and total neglect of public libraries, saying “Libraries are portals to the world’s knowledge. It is because of the importance of libraries that wealthy individuals invest in private libraries. Public libraries offer services and products that level the intellectual playing fields.
That is, they allow people of any income level or background to access high-quality information, to use computers or borrow books they need, which they cannot afford to buy or are not easily available to purchase. Moreover, public libraries provide a conducive environment for reading.
“Unfortunately, State governments have neglected public libraries in the states through lack of adequate funding. Structures housing State Library Boards and reading rooms are in a terrible state of dilapidation. Welfare of staff of State libraries have been relegated to the background as salaries are left unpaid for months; some of the staff are yet to enjoy the new National Minimum Wage of N30,000.00 a month, while some libraries do not have a single vehicle, etc.
“We call on state governments to wake up to their responsibilities by improving the funding of their libraries, including looking into the welfare of the staff. The Federal Government should also prevail on the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, to complete the National Library of Nigeria permanent site.” currently under construction.”