The Federal Government has been urged to meet with the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), as well as to pay its members’ back salaries.
ASUU and other university unions had gone on strike at various points, calling for better working conditions and the development of the country’s higher education system.
While the strike was called off by the SSANU and its sister union, the Non-Academic Staff Union, in August, the eight-month strike by ASUU was called off in October as a result of the decisions of the National Industrial Court and the Appeal court.
The SSANU members were not paid for the four months they were on strike, and the Federal Government only paid the lecturers for the 18 working days in the month of October.
To emphasise their demand for full payment, ASUU started rallies across the nation last Monday.
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Muhammed Ibrahim, the national president of SSANU, stated in an interview with Sunday PUNCH that the union went on strike in accordance with the proper procedures, making the government’s no work, no pay policy unlawful.
He said, “For the four months that we were legally on strike, our money has not been paid. Government should do the needful because our strike followed all due processes. We notified the government before going on strike and therefore, there was no reason for the government to withhold our salaries.
“I urge the Federal Government to do the needful by ensuring that they release the withheld salaries of all university workers because the strike was forced on the staff by the government’s refusal to respect the 2009 agreement. The strike was borne out of the frustration of members.
“If they are claiming the policy of “no work no pay”, we are saying that labour laws say that members of staff have the right to embark on strike where their employers have infringed on their rights. Before you embark on strike, there are processes and procedures that you need to follow which SSANU has religiously followed.”
On her part, the ASUU Chairperson, University of Uyo, Happiness Uduk, said the Federal Government should be responsible for meeting the demands of the union, stressing that the labour law provided that workers should not be intimidated over strike actions.
She added that due to the refusal of the government to pay salaries, lecturers had been struggling to meet their obligations due to increase in prices of commodities, including transportation.