There are fears that the nation’s university workers under the umbrella of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, are gearing up for another confrontation with the federal government over issues bordering on members’ welfare, working conditions, among others.
This is even as the university workers have expressed disappointment over President Bola Tinubu’s failure to fulfil promises to release their withheld eight months’ salaries resulting from the 2022 industrial action, the six-month N35,000 wage ward and upward salary review.
The union is now saying it is tired of the federal government’s unfaithfulness to promises made to the union, lamenting that it has yet to implement all its agreements with the organised labour, particularly ASUU, since the administration came in.
DAILY POST reports that the current administration has taken no significant visible action to address the grievances by ASUU despite Tinubu’s assurance and promise that his administration would take all necessary actions to ensure universities do not embark on strike again.
Tinubu, who spoke at the 33rd convocation ceremony of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, had expressed hope that the cooperation of the unions with the federal government would ensure the needed educational development in the country.
He promised that his administration would tackle all challenges confronting the education sector and reposition it, adding that the federal government was willing to establish synergy with all the academic unions within universities in the country and exhaust all avenues for dialogue before any strike.
“I would like to enjoin all the unions in our universities to cooperate with the government in order to deliver the needed development by ensuring an atmosphere of peace and tranquility on our campuses.
“On our part, we will ensure that motivational activities are put in place to ensure improved productivity. Reciprocative actions would be expected from our universities as the government works hard to raise the bar of a conducive teaching and learning environment.
“To whom much is given, much is expected. Dialogue, patience, and positive engagements are better means of achieving results than strike actions. Industrial disharmony does nothing but disrupt life, waste time and elongate the academic calendar.
“Therefore, all avenues for dialogue must be explored and exhausted before strike actions are considered, and as a last resort,” Tinubu said.
DAILY POST reports that it is now almost four months after Tinubu approved the partial waiver of the ‘No Work, No Pay’ order instituted against striking ASUU members in 2022 under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Recall that ASUU members had embarked on an eight-month industrial action, which began on February 14, 2022, and lasted until October 17, 2022, but the federal government insisted on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy for the period the university workers were away from their duty posts.
However, nearly sixteen months after the academic staff members returned to work, they have continued to lament the unyielding response of the government to their withheld salaries.
DAILY POST reported that Tinubu, in November last year, directed the grant of an exceptional last waiver of the ‘No Work, No Pay’ order on ASUU, which would pave the way for members of ASUU to receive four months of salary accruals out of the eight months withheld during the strike.
According to the President, the move, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, was in line with his administration’s determination to mitigate the difficulties in the face of the implementation of key economic reforms in the country.
Tinubu also added that he recognised the faithful implementation of terms agreed upon during the fruitful deliberations between ASUU and the federal government.
Not happy about the development, ASUU has embarked on a nationwide consultation with members over the non-implementation of agreements by the Federal Government.
ASUU said it regrettable that despite the gentlemen’s agreement between the union and the federal government, no dime had been paid to its members, creating unnecessary hardship for their families.
Apart from the withheld eight months’ salaries, the university workers said they were yet to be removed from the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, as directed by the President.