August 18, 2022

Strike: Why our meeting with FG ended in deadlock — ASUU

By Joseph Erunke, Abuja

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has explained that its meeting with the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led committee last Tuesday, ended in deadlock because the committee presented “award of a Recommended Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS), prepared by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission” to it.

ASUU said the ‘award salary’ was “against the principle of collective bargaining, based on the Wages Boards and Industrial Council’s Decree No 1 of 1973, the Trade Dispute Act (1976), ILO Conventions 49 (1948), 91(1950), 154 (1988) and recommendation 153 (1981), Udoji Commission Report of 1974, and Cookey Commission Report of 1981.”

The report, it noted, “also provided a platform for resolving such important issues as special salaries and conditions of service of university staff, university funding, roles of Pro-Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, and National Universities Commission (NUC).

“A key outcome was a special salary scale for university staff known as University Salary Structure (USS).”

Accusing the government of insincerity in its approach to resolving the lingering crisis in the university academic system, the union demanded that “The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, return to the New Draft Agreement of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Renegotiation Committee, whose work spanned a total of five and half years as a demonstration of good faith.”

The union in press statement, Thursday, by its president, Emmanuel Osodeke, expressed anger that the “award” presented by the Nimi Briggs-led Team came across in a manner of take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper,” noting that “no serious country in the world treats their scholars this way.”

In the statement, tagged “Why ASUU Rejects Governments Award of Salary”, the union claimed that “Government imposed the ongoing strike action on ASUU and it has encouraged it to linger because of its provocative indifference.”

“The Munzali Jibril-led renegotiation committee submitted the first Draft Agreement in May 2021 but government’s official response did not come until about one year later!

“Again, the “Award” presented by the Nimi Briggs-led Team came across in a manner of take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper. No serious country in the world treats their scholars this way.

“Over the years, particularly since 1992, the Union has always argued for and negotiated a separate salary structure for academics for obvious reasons.

“ASUU does not accept any awarded salary as was the case in the administration of General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

“The separate salary structures in all FGN/ASUU Agreements were usually the outcome of collective bargaining processes.

Leaking economy’

“The major reason given by the Federal Government for the miserly offer, paucity of revenue, is not tenable.

“This is because of several reasons chief of which is poor management of the economy. This has given rise to leakages in the revenue of governments at all levels.

“There is wasteful spending, misappropriation of fund and outright stealing of our collective patrimony.

“ASUU believes that if the leakages in the management of the country’s resources are stopped, there will be more than enough to meet the nation’s revenue and expenditure targets without borrowing and plunging the country into a debt crisis as is the case now,” it said.

While noting also that, “At the commencement of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement on 16th March 2017, both the Federal Government and ASUU Teams agreed to be guided by” some terms of reference, ASUU, however, expressed regret that the former reneged on its side to abide by the agreement.

It warned that,” Government’s surreptitious move to set aside the principle of collective bargaining, which is globally in practice, has the potential of damaging lecturers’ psyche and destroying commitment to the university system.

“This is, no doubt, injurious to Nigeria’s aspiration to become an active player in the global knowledge industry.”

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