THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU,ended its Natural Executive Committee, NEC meeting late Monday (yesterday),with a resolution not to embark on another strike, following the payment of half salaries to members by the federal government.
“Rather, the union, according to Vanguard source, resolved to wait for the outcome of the intervention of speaker of the House of Representatives,Femi Gbajabiamila in its faceoff with the government over alleged non-implementation of the 2009 agreement by the latter.
“Although, no member of the body, including the president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who attended the meeting held at the University of Abuja campus, where ASUU’s headquarters located, has spoken about the outcome, a source said members resolved not to explore the strike option in getting the government to address the contending issues.
“It was gathered that some members had pushed for declaration of total and comprehensive strike across public universities across the country but majority kicked against the action, saying it was no longer fashionable under the present circumstance.
“Those against the strike argued that it would be wrong to embark on the action again, thus compelling students who had already returned to their various schools, following earlier suspension of the action, to return home.
“The statement released by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to the effect that government would not pay members full salaries, was said to have further deflated the argument by those who had pushed for strike as a last option.
“Some members had suggested that since the suspension of the strike was at the speaker’s instance, following his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, it would be wrong to resume action when he (speaker) was still pushing to have the federal government rescind its decisions on no-work,no-pay policy.
“A source at the meeting said: “Embarking on another round of strike was not considered an option in resolving the current issues with the federal government at the meeting.”
“Asked what really transpired at the meeting, he said: “You would hear the rest through the appropriate channel.
”As a body, we have people that speak for us. You will hear from them on what really happened.”
ASUU accuses FG of attempt to turn lecturers to casual workers
However, in a statement after the meeting, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, slammed the Federal Government over the payment of half salaries to lecturers in October.
He condemned the ‘pro-rata’ payment to the union’s members and accused the government of an attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers.
The action of the union was a display of manifest trust in the judiciary and other institutions and organs of government to always put national interest above all other considerations.
‘This we believe, as a union of thinkers, intellectuals, and patriots, will not only aid the process of amicable resolution of the crisis, but also set the tone for smooth industrial relations between government and Nigerian workers at large,” Osodeke said.
He, however, said the response of the government, especially its ‘pro-rata’ payment of October salaries of academics, portrayed them as daily paid workers.
Osodeke added: “This is not only an aberration but also a contravention of all-known rules of engagement in any contract of employment for academics the world over.”
According to him, ASUU National Executive Committee, NEC, held on Monday deliberated on the development and noted with dismay that “paying academics on pro-rata basis, like casual workers, is unprecedented in the history of university-oriented labour relations and, therefore, condemned this attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers in its entirety”.
FG defends half salary payment
The Federal Government had over the weekend, defended the pro-rata payment to ASUU members in October, saying they could not be paid for work not done.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, through the ministry’s spokesman, Olajide Oshundun, also dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.
“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October. Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied,” he said.
No work, no pay is legal
Also, speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had on Monday, said the green chamber was making arrangements for a N170 billion fund for ASUU in the 2023 budget.
“We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes N170billion to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers.
“The Bill also includes an additional N300 billion in revitalization funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.
‘The ‘no work no pay’ policy embarked on by the Federal Government during the period of strike is premised on the law,” Gbajabiamila had said.
He said the decision was based on the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.
“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.
“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required.
“Therefore, I urge all parties to be patient and grant each other the presumption of goodwill to the extent necessary to achieve our shared objectives. This is not a time for political brinkmanship,” he said.