A former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi says fresh industrial action by lecturers of public universities cannot be ruled out in 2023.
Ogunyemi made this known on Saturday during a live appearance on Channels TV’s 2022 In Retrospect, an End-Of-Year special.
The academic labelled the Federal Government as insensitive to the plights of lecturers and noted that it is against justice that people who have been made to work in arrears should not be paid in arrears.
“We must understand what triggers strike action. I don’t think anybody can promise you there will be no strike (in 2023),” Ogunyemi said when asked whether there won’t be any industrial action in 2023.
ASUU embarked on strike in February 2022 over demands for improved welfare, and owed earned allowances, amongst others. However, the union was forced to abort its strike by a judgement of the National Industrial Court by mid-October after eight months.
The Federal Government paid the lecturers half their salaries at the end of October, activating its no-work, no-pay policy. This caused an outrage as the union condemned what it called the casualisation of lecturers but the government did not rescind its decision.
Ogunyemi, who handed over to the current ASUU president, Emmanuel Osodeke in May 2021, berated the Federal Government for its pro rata payment method, saying no ASUU leader can guarantee that the union won’t embark on fresh strike in 2023.
Ogunyemi said, “I don’t think any ASUU leader can promise that because when our members’ salaries are withheld because if the government is saying no work, no pay, then at some point, our members can say no pay, no work.
“The work they said they said our members did not do in 2022 between February and October, many universities have made our members to do the work; they have taught courses that were left untaught, they have conducted exams that were not conducted and they are about graduating students that ordinarily supposed to lose the session because the government failed.
“In our universities today, our members are being made to teach in arrears. If the government is withholding arrears of their salaries, things may get to a head where our members will insist that their salaries be paid.”