The Nation Universities may be set for another season of strikes as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has conclude all arrangement to declare an indefinite strike from Monday, 6th July, 2015 over Purported moves by the Federal Government to take the salaries of university staff schools from the payroll of universities.
The Federal Government, through the National Salary, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) has stated its position on the issue, insisting that it would no longer allocate monies from the federation account to the various universities for the wages of their teachers.
The commission, which estimated the cost of paying university staff school teachers to be over N4 billion, said government would be withdrawing from the payment of their salaries because of its overbearing effect on the budget.
Meanwhile, president of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, who warned of an imminent strike in the education sector, said the association would not give any more ultimatums to government before declaring strike.
He alleged that the National Universities Commission (NUC) was behind the plot to remove the demonstration schools from its payroll.
SSANU and the NUC had been engaged in war of words in the past few weeks over a circular directing the NSIWC to stop further payment of salaries to teachers in the schools.
SSANU said, if government does not rescind its decision, over 2,000 staff members would be forced into the already saturated labour market.
According to Ugwoke, the contentious issue of the payment of teachers in university staff primary schools was a product of the 2009 Federal Government-SSANU agreement in which the NUC, the ministries of Finance, Education and Labour and other stakeholders were all active participants.
The union president argued that government was being discriminatory over university staff schools when it still funds Navy, Army, Air Force and Police staff schools.
“It has come to our knowledge that the NUC is conspiring with some other government agencies to scrap and throw thousands of workers (our members) out of employment prematurely, in violation of our 2009 FGN/SSANU agreement.
“These schools in contention were established by statutes and the workers were duly employed by the universities’ councils,” the SSANU President said.
SSANU had said in a memo to the Federal Ministry of Education in April 2015 that government could not opt out of the salary arrangement because the collective agreement has not been re-negotiated, in line with the principle of social dialogue.
“It therefore smacks of executive arrogance and utter impunity to attempt to unilaterally repudiate the agreement duly executed by both parties without reference to our union, particularly when the matter is the subject matter of various court cases,” Ugwoke said.
However, the NUC, through its director, Information and Public Relations, Ibrahim Yakasai, has contended that part of the decision to remove the schools from the payroll of public universities was in the interest of minimising the recurrent expenditure of the Federal Government.
Yakasai said SSANU was merely running a campaign of calumny against the commission when it was clear that such staff schools were established by ministries, departments and agencies as private enterprises and, therefore, should be funded by the institutions that established them without transferring the burden of their wage bill to the Federal Government.
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