FUTMinna: We Are Not Casual Workers, Says ASUU Chairman

 

The chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in the Federal University of Technology Minna chapter, Gbolahan Bolarin has stated that members of the union are not casual workers and should not be treated with much more respect.

At a recent march to protest the “ill-treatment” meted out to ASUU members, Bolarin said “Our members were paid for the number of days they had worked and this is unfortunate and demeaning to us”.

Speaking to news during the protest in Minna, Bolarin said the chapter rejects being reduced to mere casual workers.


READ ALSO: I Will Increase Funds For Arts, Liberalise Acquisition Process, Atiku Promises Creatives


“FUT Minna has resolved to reject in totality the reduction of Nigerian scholars to casual workers and attempts by the minister of labor and employment to destroy our public universities under any guise.

“We will not allow Chris Ngige ridicule us because Nigerian lecturers are among the best in the world,” the ASUU chairman stressed.

He also stated that the half salary paid to lectures is an insult on the lectures, the academia, the university system and the Nigerian state.

Bolarin further stated that the Federal Government is pushing the lecturers to a point where the aggression will be shifted to innocent students adding that they will do everything to resist the plans of the government.

“They want to push us to the point that we will punish our students. We will try not to allow our students be collateral damage which is their plan”.

Also speaking, the Student Union Government president of FUT Minna, Isyaka Yahaya said the struggle for the survival of the Nigerian University students isn’t only the responsibility of ASUU.

“The survival of the Nigerian University system is not only the responsibility of the lecturers but the students and everyone”.

He said the SUG was joining to show support for their lectures and are willing to go to any extent to ensure that their lecturers are treated better.

“Whatever decision ASUU takes, we are in support and we will follow them and shut down any place. The government should get ready to kill all of us.”

Incomplete Salary: ASUU Accuses FG Of Attempt To Turn Lecturers To Casual Workers

A photo combination of ASUU president and Ngige.

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has slammed the Federal Government over the payment of half salaries to lecturers in October.

In a statement on Tuesday by ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, the union condemned the ‘pro-rata’ payment to its members and accused the government of an attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers.

ASUU had on October 14, 2022, called off its eight-month strike after the National Industrial Court ordered the lecturers to resume.

“The action of the Union was a display of manifest trust in the judiciary and other institutions and organs of government to always put national interest above all other considerations. This we believe, as a union of thinkers, intellectuals, and patriots, will not only aid the process of amicable resolution of the crisis, but will also set the tone for smooth industrial relations between Government and Nigerian workers at large,” Osodeke said in the statement.

He, however, said the response of the government, especially its ‘pro-rata’ payment of October salaries of academics, portrayed them as daily paid workers.

“This is not only an aberration but a contravention of all-known rules of engagement in any contract of employment for academics the world over,” the union leader exclaimed.

According to him, ASUU National Executive Committee (NEC) held on Monday deliberated on the development and noted with dismay that “paying academics on pro-rata basis, like casual workers, is unprecedented in the history of university-oriented labour relations and therefore condemned this attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers in its entirety”.

FG Defends Half Salary Payment

The Federal Government over the weekend had defended the pro-rata payment to ASUU members in October, saying they cannot be paid for work not done.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, through the ministry’s spokesman, Olajide Oshundun, also dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.

READ ALSO: Pay ASUU Members Full Salaries, Falana Tells FG

“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the statement partly read.

“Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied,” he said.

‘No Work No Pay Is Legal’

Also, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday, said the green chamber is making arrangements for a N170 billion fund for ASUU in the 2023 budget.

“We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes the sum of one hundred and seventy billion naira (N170,000,000,000.00) to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers,” the statement read.

“The Bill also includes an additional three hundred billion naira (N300,000,000,000.00) in revitalization funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.”

The ‘no work no pay’ policy embarked on by the Federal Government during the period of strike, Gbajabiamila said, is premised on the law.

He said the decision is based on the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.

“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.

“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required.

“Therefore, I urge all parties to be patient and grant each other the presumption of goodwill to the extent necessary to achieve our shared objectives. This is not a time for political brinkmanship,” he said.

Pay ASUU Members Full Salaries, Falana Tells FG

Falana Writes Buhari, Says Allocating Oil Blocks To Individuals Illegal
Femi Falana Muhammadu Buhari

 

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to direct public universities to pay members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) their full salaries. 

Some members of the union which recently called off their eight-month strike had complained of getting half salaries for October 2022. The Federal Government had defended the move, insisting that the varsity teachers cannot be paid for not working.

“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the Ministry of Labour and Employment said. “Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”

But in a statement on Sunday, Falana, said the ‘no work, no pay’ policy does not apply to ASUU members.

READ ALSOSERAP To Buhari: Direct Ngige To Immediately Reverse Deduction Of Lecturers’ Salaries

“The position of the Federal Government is factually faulty and legally misleading. Since the industrial action was called off the public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021/2022 academic session is not cancelled. Consequently, students are currently taking lectures or writing examinations that were disrupted during the strike of the ASUU. Therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike the doctrine of ‘no work, no pay’ is totally inapplicable as students who were not taught during the strike are currently attending lectures and writing examinations,” he said.

“Furthermore, it is public knowledge that the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a strike that lasted two months last year. The Federal Government dragged the striking doctors to the National Industrial Court which ordered the NARD to call off the strike. As soon as the strike was called off, President Muhammadu Buhari jettisoned the “no work, no pay” principle and ordered the payment of the salaries for the two months that the strike lasted. On that occasion, the President overruled Dr. Ngige in the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector.

“In the same vein, the ASUU recently called off its 8-month-old strike in compliance with the order of the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal. We are therefore compelled to call on President Buhari should ignore the advice of Dr. Ngige and direct the public universities to pay the full salary of each lecturer from February to October 2022. Otherwise, the Federal Government will be accused of engaging in the selective application of the “no work, no pay” principle which is discriminatory and illegal.

“It is pertinent to draw the attention of the Federal Government to section 42 (1) of the Constitution which provides that citizens of Nigeria shall not be subjected either expressly or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which other citizens are not made subject; or be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to other citizens.

“In view of the foregoing, since the Federal Government is mandatorily required to treat all workers equally the members of ASUU are entitled to be treated like members of the NARD after they had called off their strike. In other words, as members of ASUU and NARD are entitled to equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law the lecturers should be paid their salaries withheld during the period of the recently suspended 8-month industrial action.

“However, in view of the undeniable fact that the members of the two newly registered unions in the universities were on strike like members of ASUU the
plan of the Ministry of Labour and Employment to pay the Congress of University Academics their withheld salaries and rectify the ‘half salaries’ paid to all lecturers under the newly registered union should be shelved. Otherwise, the provocative agenda will cause a fresh industrial action in public universities.”

 

SERAP To Buhari: Direct Ngige To Reverse Deduction Of Lecturers’ Salaries

A file photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige.
A file photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to direct the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige to immediately reverse the deduction in the salaries of university lecturers.

The Federal Government paid half-salaries to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the month of October 2022. Some professors reportedly received salaries ranging from N71,000 to N121,000 for October.

Justifying the decision, Ngige said ASUU members were paid their October salary pro-rata. Pro-rata was done because the lecturers cannot be paid for work not done.

READ ALSO: Forfeiture Of Ekweremadu’s Assets A Selective Judgement, Ohanaeze Kicks

But in a statement on Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) knocked the Federal Government for not paying the varsity teachers in full.

SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, also asked President Buhari to direct “the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh to immediately reverse the apparently illegal deductions from the salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for October 2022.”

The rights group wants the Federal Government “to pay ASUU members full salaries for the duration of their strike action.”

“Paying half salaries to ASUU members solely for exercising their human rights is patently unlawful and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international standards,” the statement read.

“The alleged deductions from the salaries of ASUU members also amount to punishing them for exercising their right to strike.”

“The deductions are illegal and disproportionate. The deductions may also be construed as a deliberate attempt to take away the right to strike, and to make ASUU a lame duck.”

“The right to strike implies the right of workers not to be punished for striking. ASUU members do not, therefore, forfeit their salaries because they exercise their right to strike.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of this letter’s receipt and/or publication. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests in the public interest.”

“Illegal deductions from the salaries of ASUU members may also violate the right to work, and to respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.”

On February 14, ASUU embarked on strike and suspended it on October 14. While the strike lasted, the government insisted that lecturers would not be paid for the period of the strike.

Varsity Lecturers Can’t Be Paid For Work Not Done – FG

A photo combination of ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke and the union’s logo.

 

The Federal Government has explained the rationale behind the payment of half salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14. Following a series of discussions with the government, coupled with a court order, the university lecturers ended the eight-month-old strike and returned to their classrooms on October 14.

READ ALSO: SERAP To Buhari: Direct Ngige To Immediately Reverse Deduction Of Lecturers’ Salaries

However, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had vowed to invoke the no work, no pay on the aggrieved lecturers who had pressed home for a better welfare package for their members.

True to the government’s stance, ASUU members were paid half salaries for October, a situation that drew criticism from both the varsity teachers and the newly registered Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA).

In a statement, the Federal Government said ASUU members were paid their October salary pro-rata, noting that they cannot be paid for work not done.

Spokesman of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, also dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.

“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the statement partly read.

“Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”

According to him, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, never directed the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the university lecturers half their salary.

The ministry equally faulted a statement by the Chairperson of ASUU, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) branch, Muhammad Al-Mustapha, accusing Ngige of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of the union.

Oshundun added, “Following the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), asking ASUU to go back to work, the leadership of the union wrote to the Minister, informing him that they have suspended the strike.

“The Federal Ministry of Education wrote to him in a similar vein and our labour inspectors in various states also confirmed that they have resumed work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NLC Tackles Ngige, Rejects Registration Of New Academic Unions

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, Labour Minister, Chris Ngige

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has tackled the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige over the registration of two new academic unions in the Nigerian public university system.

Ngige wrote to the NLC on Tuesday, urging the labour leaders to rescind its opposition to the registration of two new academic unions in the Nigerian public university system.

But in a letter to the Minister, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, demanded for the withdrawal of the letters issued to the unions, on the grounds that their registration contravened the laws guiding trade unionism.

READ ALSO: FG Breaks ASUU’s Rank, Registers Two Academic Unions

Channels Television had reported how the new unions – the Congress for Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) – received letters of recognition recently during a ceremony at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja.

Wabba argued that Section 3(2) of the Trade Union Act forbids and restricts the Minister from registering unions in sectors where a trade union already exists.

According to him, Section 5(2) of the Act provides for the gazetting of the registration of new trade unions and display of same for public objections for three months.

“Your biased attempt to re-group an existing trade union or actually individuals in utter disregard to tripartism which is a core pillar of the ILO is an attempt to interfere with, infiltrate and balkanize an existing trade union – at best to score on vendetta and at worst to destroy cordial industrial relations in Nigeria,” he stated.

“As the Chief Labour Officer of the  Federal republic, we believe that you will take advantage of our presentation of the true position of the law to redress this grave injustice done to our labour jurisprudence by the ‘awarding’ of trade union certificates to CONUA and NAMDA.”

Strike: We Acted On Court Order, Issues Still Unresolved – ASUU 

File photo: ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it called off its eight-month strike due to a court order and appeals from Nigerians. 

A court of appeal had ordered the striking lecturers to return to class after the National Industrial Court ruled against the union in a case brought to it by the Federal Goverment. Days after the appeal court judgement, ASUU called off the strike and ordered members to resume lectures.

But the union’s National President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said the decision was not because issues brought by the lecturers were fully addressed.

“As you have seen from our press release – although they were interventions by the Speaker (Femi Gbajabiamila) and others – the major reason we are resuming is because we are obeying the industrial court’s judgement. The issues have not been fully resolved and no agreements signed,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

“We are resuming because we are a law-abiding organisation and we don’t want to break the law. We are also hoping that the intervention of the Speaker as promised by him will resolve this problem within a very short time. So, the issues have not been resolved but we would resume because of that court injunction.”

READ ALSO: ASUU Strike Must Never Happen Again – Gbajabiamila

Osodeke, who blamed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, for taking the matter to court, argued that the best way to tackle trade disputes involving academics is “negotiation”.

“But one of the ministers, the Minister of Labour, believes that the best way is to force them to class. But because of the interest of the Nigerian people – the students, their parents, and the Speaker who is intervening  – our members will teach”.

He, however, said the lecturers may be unmotivated going back to class if the “no-work, no-pay” policy of the Federal Government stands, maintaining that “you cannot expect a hungry man” to be at his best.

To avoid this, Osodeke said the government “should pay the salaries” to the varsity teachers whom he added have to “meet up” with the backlog of classes missed during the strike.

FG Breaks ASUU’s Rank, Registers Two Academic Unions

A photo combination of ASUU president and Ngige.

 

The Federal Government on Tuesday broke the ranks of The Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU) when it registered two unions in the university system.

The unions are the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) and the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA).

CONUA is a union for lecturers across the nation’s universities and it is led by a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Niyi Sunmonu. The group was established in 2018 at OAU.

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, explained that the two bodies will exist alongside ASUU.

He further stated that the two associations will enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to other academic unions in the tertiary education system.

It is not clear what the implication of recognising the bodies will be on the seven month-long industrial action embarked upon by ASUU.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14.

In August, the union declared a “total and indefinite” extension of its industrial action, noting that the government has failed to satisfactorily meets its demands.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

FG To ASUU: Obey Court Ruling First, Negotiations Will Continue

A photo combination of ASUU president and Ngige.

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has advised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to obey the National Industrial Court (NIC) ruling and call off its ongoing nationwide strike, while negotiations are ongoing.

Ngige stated this while responding to the industrial court ruling which restrained ASUU from continuing with the strike when fielding questions from journalists in New York on Friday.

He said that the strike is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions, noting that the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.

The minister also advised that after obedience, ASUU can then apply for an appeal if they so desire or apply for a stay of execution.

READ ALSOIndustrial Court’s Ruling Ordering ASUU To Call Off Strike (Full Details)

On Friday, ASUU filed an appeal over the ruling.  The counsel to ASUU, Mister Femi Falana, based their appeal on 14 grounds. The motion is seeking two reliefs which are:

A) The leave to file the appeal pursuant to Section 243 of the Constitution that requires the party to seek a leave of court to appeal the judgement or ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC).

B) Seeking for a stay of execution of the orders of the court, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

FG Drags ASUU To Court, Says Talks Have Failed

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

 

The Federal Government has dragged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (AUU) to the National Industrial Court over the union’s ongoing strike which is in its seventh month.

In a statement on Sunday, the Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said the Federal Government took the decision after dialogue between it and ASUU failed.

The government wants the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the court.

The referral instrument addressed to the Registrar of Industrial Court was dated September 8, 2022, and signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

READ ALSO: Strike: SERAP Sues Buhari, Asks Court To Declare Refusal To Meet ASUU’s Demands illegal

The case is scheduled for mention at 9 am on Monday and the Federal Government is asking the court to determine whether the strike by ASUU is legal or not.

Also, the government wants the court to interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18 LFN 2004, especially as it applies to the cessation of the strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour and Employment and conciliation is ongoing.

Other requests made by the government to the court are:

“Interpret the provisions of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8. LFN 2004, titled “Special Provision with Respect to payment of wages during Strikes and Lock-outs,” specifically dealing with the rights of employees/workers during the period of any strike or lock-out. Can ASUU or any other union that embarked on strike be asking to be paid salaries even with clear provisions of the law?

“Determine whether ASUU members are entitled to emoluments or “strike pay” during their period of strike, which commenced on February 14, 2022, more so in view of our national law as provided in Section 43 of the TDA and the International Labour Principles on the right to strike as well as the decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association on the Subject.”

“Determine whether ASUU has the right to embark on strike over disputes as is the case in this instance by compelling the Federal Government to employ its own University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) in the payment of the wages of its members as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) universally used by the Federal Government in the nation for payment of wages of all her employees in the Federal Government Public Service of which university workers including ASUU members are part of or even where the government via NITDA subjected ASUU and their counterpart UPPPS university payment platform system software to integrity test (vulnerability and stress test) and they failed.”

The Federal Government also wants the court to determine the extent of ASUU’s demand since the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) that the union signed with the government.

The demands include the funding for revitalisation of public universities as per the 2009 agreement, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) payments, state universities proliferation and constitution of visitation panels and release of a white paper on the report of the visitation panels.

The others are the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team for renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, which was renegotiated in 2013/2014, due for renegotiation in 2018/2019 and the migration of ASUU members from IPPIS to its own UTAS, which is currently on test at NITDA.

Strike: Students Should Take ASUU To Court For Compensation – FG

 

The Federal Government has asked students to take the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to take legal action for compensation over the time lost since the varsity teachers began their latest round of strike. 

Education Minister Adamu Adamu said this on Thursday while fielding questions from reporters at the 47th Session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“You should take the leaders of the striking unions to court to pay them,” the minister said when asked if the government plans to compensate students over lost time due to the lingering university teachers’ industrial action. “Probably the court will award damages and we will see how they would pay.”

The minister also denied being mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari to end the six-month strike.

READ ALSOASUU-FG Meeting Ends In Deadlock, Strike To Continue

According to him, at no time did the Nigerian leader order him to resolve the strike in two weeks.

He said the President instead told him to resolve the issue within the shortest possible time, contrary to what the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, told the media.

While he insisted that he will not succumb to the union’s demand for their members to be paid the backlog of salaries withheld within the period of six months that they were on strike, he said such is the penalty for their action.

During the meeting, Adamu equally said five of the university-based unions may call off their strike within the next one week but admitted that ASUU’s case remains uncertain.

Furthermore, he accused ASUU of not appreciating the government’s investments in the education sector, arguing that N2.5 trillion was expended on education by President Buhari’s administration through the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) and Universal Basic Education (UBEC).

This, he added, is well over the N1.2 trillion demanded by ASUU, a union he claimed embarked on a needless strike.

Electricity Workers Agree To Suspend Strike, Restore Power

A file photo of a powerline.
A file photo of a powerline.

 

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has suspended its strike. 

This followed a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Why Nigeria Can’t Generate 5,000mw Of Power – FG

“The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has apprehended the strike embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) following an emergency meeting between the union, government, and other stakeholders, at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige,” read a statement from the Head, Press and Public Relations of the ministry.

“Dr Ngige set up a tripartite committee to look into the grievances of electricity workers towards addressing them.”

The statement added that the union’s secretary general, Joe Ajaero, has “assured the minister that all necessary steps would be taken to restore the supply of electricity to the country immediately”.