By Senator Iroegbu
Abuja — The non-academic staff of Nigerian universities and similar union across the country's tertiary institutions have suspended their strike.
This is coming barely a week after the Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) called off their one-month-old industrial action.
The executive members of the tripartite union under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologies (NAAT) called off the 11-day strike yesterday after series of negotiations with the federal government.
In a statement signed by the President of JAC and SSANU, Samson Ugwoke; President of NAAT, Mr. Sani Suleiman; and President of NASU, Chris Ani, said the three unions jointly suspended the industrial action for one month to allow the government accede to their demands.
In a memorandum of understanding signed with the government, the lamented that the "labour firmament is not so much about lack of agreements but the actualisation of the agreements.
"This is reason for the prevalence of industrial actions in recent times. To this end, beginning with the understanding reached early as today, September 21, 2017 (yesterday), with the JAC of NAAT, NASU and SSANU, we enjoin government to respect agreements reached and ensure their compliance. We maintain our principled stand on the dictum "Pacta Sum Servanda" - Agreements entered into must be honoured. This dictum is not restricted to this agreement alone, but any other agreement signed with workers across all sectors.
"The level of confidence in government by Nigerian workers is indeed poor and highly eroded as workers no longer have trust in policies of government despite the fact that MoU's and agreements are reached. Government must therefore embark on a deliberate policy of confidence-building, to shore up trust and belief in its activities. This is the key solution to end the spate of industrial actions in the country."
The union further stated that the strike by the university based non-teaching unions was avoidable and would have been averted if government had done the needful.
The non-teaching staff union noted that arising from the series of deliberations and engagements, they have once again gone to the drawing board; adding that the "negotiations we have had since the beginning of the strike have developed a template which we hope will be a panacea to the continued conflicts between the university based non-teaching staff unions and the federal government."
Part of the statement read: "We have developed an actionable template with specific timeframes to implement salient aspects of the agreement. Based on the foregoing and following exhaustive and extensive consultations with our various union organs, we hereby announce the suspension of the strike action embarked upon by the Joint Action Committee of NAAT, NASU and SSANU, on the understanding that the time lines agreed with the federal government on the various issues are met.
"We have consequently directed our members to resume work on Monday, September 25, 2017. In one months time, we shall be reviewing the level of compliance with the agreement and shall not hesitate to resume the strike action if government reneges on the agreements reached or delays in any aspects."
The unions however, commended the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige for what they described as "his sense of patriotism and painstaking effort in the resolution of this industrial conflict", as well as the Minister of State for Labour, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang and all other representatives of government at various levels.
The union also restated their demands, which include: Non-payment of Earned Allowances to members; problem of bad governance affecting the university system; poor funding as against UNESCO recommendations; inadequate infrastructure in universities and abandoned projects; shortfall in payments of salaries; non-implementation of the National Industrial Court (NUC) judgement in respect of university staff schools; and on-registration of National Universities Pension Commission (NUPEMCO).
Others are: Non-implementation of CONTISS 14 and 15 for Technologists; problem of lack of adequate teaching and learning facilities in the universities.
Corruption in the university system; lack of seriousness in the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/University Unions Agreement; and usurpation of Headship of Non-Teaching Units by academic staff.
"The above demands were aggregates of the Unions agreements of 2009 with the federal government which we had waited eight years to consummate. We had shown understanding, maturity and patience," the non-teaching staff union reminded.
The union had in January 2017, embarked on a one week warning strike which was suspended on the strength of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the federal government.
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