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SSANU, NASU’s Strike Enters Second Day, FG Faults Hard-Line Stance

The two unions began a seven-day warning strike on Monday over withheld salaries with hostels shut and electricity seized.


FILE: SSANU and NASU members protest non-payment of withheld salaries

 

As the seven-day warning strike by members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) enters its second day on Tuesday, grounding activities at the nation’s public ivory towers, the Federal Government has criticised the action of the non-academic staff, saying that the withdrawal of their services is contrary to the provisions of section 18 of the Trade Dispute Act.

The two unions began a seven-day warning strike on Monday over withheld salaries with workers in registry, bursary, works and maintenance, security, and students’ affairs withdrawing their services.

Our correspondents who visited public universities across the country observed that nothing moved administratively within any public university in Nigeria as hostels and varsity gates were locked up and electricity supply cut off.

 

 

Both SSANU and NASU are protesting withheld salaries by the Federal Government. The two unions berated the Federal Government for paying withheld salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities  (ASUU) while neglecting the non-academic unions.

All the unions had embarked on an eight-month strike in 2022 to press home some of their demands including a better welfare package. The administration of then President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay policy’ against the unions but President Bola Tinubu last October approved the release of four of the eight months withheld salaries.

 

 

However, SSANU President, Mohammed Ibrahim, accused the Federal Government of unfair treatement and discrimination against non-academic unions by failing to pay them like their academic counterparts.

 

FILE: SSANU President, Mohammed Ibrahim, on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Monday, March 11, 2024

 

Ibrahim sensed some “saboteurs in his government” and wondered why the President would give an instruction that members of varsity unions be paid 2022 arrears and some government officials won’t fully comply.

‘Stop Hard-Line Stance’

The unions, after an initial notice on March 11, 2024, made do their threat a week later, on March 18, 2024, shutting down hostels, power supply, security and administrative works in universities across the country, a development that has been heavily criticised by the Labour Minister, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, who described the unions’ action as a total disregard for the Federal Government’s concerted effort to address their concerns.

 

FILE: Labour Minister Nkiruka Onyejeocha on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Tuesday, February 27, 2024

 

“The Minister has always maintained that strike does not serve any useful purpose and should only be resorted to as a last option after exhausting every conciliation effort.

“She appeals to the SSANU and NASU to step back from their hard-line stance and meet the federal government at the table for conciliation,” said a statement from the office of the minister.

 

‘Discriminatory Treatment’

Meanwhile, the umbrella body of unions in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has backed its two affilliates, SSANU and NASU, calling on the Federal Government to do the needful.

 

We’re Not After Your Job, Implement Our Agreements, NLC Replies Tinubu
FILES: NLC President Joe Ajaero

 

NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said there was no credible reason or explanation for withholding those salaries in the first place.

“Much worse, it defies logic to try to subject members of these unions to discriminatory treatment. By so doing government is courting avoidable industrial disputes.

“At a time confidence is being restored to the public universities the least government could do is not engineer another strike.

“The toll on all the parties will be unacceptably high, especially for students and parents who bear the burden of movement on our dangerous roads,” the NLC chief said.