South African Airways Begin Dialogue With Unions Over Strike

SAA (South African Airways) workers and union members sing and dance during a picket protest outside the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019. Michele Spatari / AFP
SAA (South African Airways) workers and union members sing and dance during a picket protest outside the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

South African Airways on Saturday started mediated talks with unions, one day after its workers launched an open-ended strike that forced the embattled airline to ground hundreds of flights.

More than 3,000 workers — including cabin crew, technical and ground staff — started striking on Friday to demand higher pay and to protest against restructuring plans involving heavy job losses.

The walkout forced South Africa’s cash-strapped flag carrier to cancel more than 300 domestic and regional flights between Friday and Monday.

South African Airways (SAA) said unions had agreed to start talks on Saturday mediated by an independent labour dispute resolution body.

“It is in the public interest that this dispute be resolved,” said an SAA human resources manager Martin Kemp in a statement on Saturday, adding that the unions’ “willingness to find a resolution” was “laudable”.

Unions first threatened to strike after SAA announced this week that almost 1,000 employees could lose their jobs as part of a restructuring process.

Talks with management deadlocked after they failed to agree on wage hikes, prompting unions to press on with their threats.

SAA is offering a 5.9 percent pay rise, while unions are demanding an eight percent across-the-board hike and a three-year guarantee of job security.

“Our efforts are focused on finding solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal,” said Kemp.

“We are exploring all possible avenues.”

He added that it was a “critical time” for the company.

SAA is one of the biggest airlines in Africa. It employs more than 5,000 workers, with a fleet of more than 50 aircrafts providing dozens of domestic, regional and international flights each day.

But the carrier is deep in debt, despite several government bailouts, and has not posted a profit since 2011.

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali told AFP the airline was losing 52 million rand ($3.5 million) per day due to flight cancellations.

International flights are scheduled to resume on Sunday, said the airline, while regional and domestic flights remain cancelled until Monday included.

 

AFP

British Airways Pilots Call Off Strike

 

British Airways pilots have called off a strike that had been due to commence on September 27.

The British Airline Pilots Association union confirmed this in a statement issued on Wednesday, a week after two walkouts.

“Someone has to take the initiative to sort out this dispute and with no sign of that from BA the pilots have decided to take the responsible course,” BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said.

The union chief added that the airline’s “passengers rightly expect BA and its pilots to resolve their issues without disruption and now is the time for cool heads and pragmatism to be brought to bear.

“I hope BA and its owner IAG show as much responsibility as the pilots,” he added.

It was now “time for a period of reflection before the dispute escalates further and irreparable damage is done to the (BA) brand.”

However the union added that should the airline “refuse meaningful new negotiations, BALPA retains the right to announce further strike dates”.

British Airways, which likes to call itself “the world’s favourite airline”, flew into turbulence last week as pilots staged a costly and historic two-day strike, tarnishing its global reputation according to aviation analysts.

Pilots walked out for the first time in the company’s 100-year history, sparked by a bitter and long-running feud over pay.

BA faced the embarrassment of grounding its entire UK fleet on September 9 and 10, causing the cancellation of about 1,600 flights.

The move sparked travel chaos for about 200,000 passengers who had been due to fly in and out of London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The disruption continued into September 11 because half of BA’s 300 aircraft and more than 700 pilots were mostly in the wrong place.

As a result, BA was forced to cancel approximately ten percent of its daily 850 flights in and out of Britain that day.

BALPA and its members are demanding a bigger share of British Airways profits.

The airline has offered a salary increase of 11.5 percent over three years, which it argues would boost the annual pay of some captains to £200,000 ($250,000 or 226,000 euros).

However, the union has rejected the proposal made in July.

BALPA meanwhile estimates that last week’s 48-hour strike cost the airline £80 million.

BA is owned by IAG, which was formed in 2011 with the merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. IAG has since added other carriers, including Austria’s Vueling and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.

AFP

British Airways Faces First Global Pilots’ Strike

 

British Airways faced its first global strike by pilots on Monday and the possibility of almost all its flights being grounded for two days.

The UK flag carrier and its 4,300 pilots have been locked in a nine-month pay dispute that could disrupt or alter the travel plans of nearly 300,000 people.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government urged both sides Friday “to get round the table and sort this out”.

But BA only upped the stakes by reportedly threatening to strip pilots and their families of free travel perks if the strike action goes ahead.

“We make no apology for doing everything we can to protect our customers from further disruption,” a BA spokesperson told the Financial Times on Friday.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has rejected a pay increase of 11.5 percent over three years that the airline proposed in July.

BA says the offer would see flight captains receive “world-class” pay and benefits of around £200,000 ($246,000 or 220,000 euros) a year.

It also points out that two other unions representing 90 percent of the airlines’ workers have accepted the 11.5-percent raise.

BALPA counters that co-pilots’ salaries average around £70,000 — and that of junior ones drops down to just £26,000.

This leaves some in heavy debt since they must first undergo training that the BBC estimates costs around £100,000.

BALPA also points to a nearly 10-percent jump in pre-tax profits reported by BA’s parent company IAG last year.

“One day of strike action will cost BA, on their own figures, £40 million,” BALPA tweeted on Sunday.

“The difference between us now is £5 million. Why won’t they work with us to end this dispute?”

The union said that BA never replied to a counteroffer it made to the airline on Wednesday.

Pilots are threatening to strike for one more day on September 27 — and then possibly again closer to the winter holidays — should the dispute rage on.

‘Deeply sorry’ 

BA says a “vast majority” of its travellers have either made alternative arrangements or accepted refunds since being informed of the possible walkout last month.

“We don’t underestimate the inconvenience caused, for which we are deeply sorry,” BA said in a statement to customers on Sunday.

But it remains unclear how many people using BA for just one leg of an extended journey will be affected worldwide.

BA is preparing to cancel 850 flight on Monday.

The Financial Times said the airline normally operates 1,700 flights over a 48-hour span.

IAG has been trying to rebound from a loss of investor confidence that drove its stock price down by almost 40 percent in the past 12 months.

But BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said the company had adopted a “cost-cutting culture (that) has in the eyes of pilots not only dumbed down a great brand but also made it harder for them to do their jobs”.

AFP

British Airways Pilots To Embark On Industrial Action

 

British Airways pilots on Friday said they will strike for three days in September in a dispute over pay, in a move that could affect tens of thousands of travellers.

The strikes on September 9, 10 and 27 were announced by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which said there had been a 93-percent vote in favour of industrial action.

“It is completely unacceptable that Balpa is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action,” said the airline.

“We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, Balpa has decided on this reckless course of action,” it said.

READ ALSO: 12 Killed As Boko Haram Attacks Niger Village

British Airways said it would change schedules to try and ensure as many people as possible can take their flights but warned that “many” customers will not be able to travel.

“We will be offering refunds and re-bookings for passengers booked on cancelled flights,” it said.

Balpa said the strikes were “a last resort” but added that pilots had made “sacrifice after sacrifice” in recent years.

Balpa estimated each day of strike action would cost the company around £40 million (44 million euros, $49 million).

AFP

Be Prepared For ‘Mother Of All Strikes’, University Workers Tell FG

Members of the national leadership of NASU and SSANU at a press conference in Abuja on August 22, 2019. Inset: SSANU’s National Vice President (North), Mr Solomon Alfa.

 

 

University workers in the country under the umbrella of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) have warned the Federal Government to brace up for an indefinite nationwide strike.

SSANU’s National Vice President (North), Mr Solomon Alfa, disclosed this to at a press conference following a meeting of the Joint Action Committee of both unions on Thursday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

At the end of the meeting, the workers who are on a five-day warning strike asked the government to prepare for what they termed as the “mother of all strikes”.

READ ALSO: NASU, SSANU Commence Warning Strike

The labour leaders are threatening to proceed on a nationwide industrial action barely 24 hours to the expiration of the ongoing one-week strike by the union members.

Both unions had directed their members to commence the warning strike from Monday to Friday in a letter dated August 16 and jointly signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi, as well as the National President of SSANU, Mr Samson Ugwoke.

They gave the directive to all branch chairmen of the unions across the country after the 14-day ultimatum they issued to the government expired.

The unions accused the government of failing to show firm commitment towards resolving the issues raised, including the payment of earned allowances to members.

Others are university staff schools matter and the renegotiation of 2009 Agreements.

The Joint Action Committee had warned that the National Executive Councils of the two unions would not hesitate to sanction those who fail to comply with the directive.

NASU, SSANU Commence Warning Strike

SSANU, NASU, NAAT Suspend Indefinite Strike
(Files) The leadership of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU at a meeting on September 6, 2017 in Abuja.

 

 

Members of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) have commenced a five-day industrial action.

This followed the directive of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU to all branch chairmen of the unions across the country.

In a letter dated August 16 and jointly signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi, as well as the National President of SSANU, Mr Samson Ugwoke, the members were directed to embark on strike from Monday.

READ ALSO: Makinde Appoints EX-Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni As Adviser

The leadership of both unions explained that the industrial action was as a result of the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government.

They also accused the government of failing to show firm commitment towards resolving the issues raised by the unions, including the payment of earned allowances to members.

Others are university staff schools matter and the renegotiation of 2009 Agreements.

“You are hereby directed to embark on a five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

“Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management while all members must be directed to stay away from their duty posts,” the committee directed members.

It, however, warned that the National Executive Councils of the two unions would not hesitate to sanction those who fail to comply with the directive.

Read the full statement below:

DIRECTIVE ON FIVE DAY NATIONAL STRIKE

Following the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum given to the Government and
its failure to show firm commitment towards resolving the following issues:
1. Payment of Earned Allowances
2. University Staff Schools matter
3. Renegotiation of 2009 Agreements; you are hereby directed to embark on a
five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No
form of Concession or internal arrangement should be made with
Managements while ALL members must be directed to stay away from their
duty posts.

Kindly recall the decision of the National Executive Councils of the two unions
to the effect that Branches that default in compliance should be sanctioned.
The National leadership shall not hesitate in this regard.

You are hereby directed to fully mobilise your members and ensure full
compliance.

Yours in the struggle.

Comrade Peters A. Adeyemi,          JP Comrade Samson C. Ugwoke
General Secretary (NASU)              National President (SSANU)

Hundreds Of Travellers Stranded In Kenyan Airport As Workers Strike

Passengers are blocked from entering Kenya Airways’s departure terminal due to a strike by the airline workers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on March 6, 2019.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Hundreds of travellers were stranded at Nairobi’s international airport Wednesday as riot police deployed and teargas was fired to disperse striking workers.

With flights grounded since midnight, passengers were advised Wednesday morning not to come to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) — East Africa’s busiest according to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) — until further notice.

“Kenya Airways regrettably wishes to inform its customers and the general public that due to the illegal strike by Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KUWA), the airline will be experiencing disruptions in normal flight operations,” a company statement said.

Inside the terminals, strikers faced off with police who fired teargas as they moved in to arrest union officials they accused of inciting workers.

READ ALSO: North Korea Is Rebuilding Satellite Launch Site, Research Shows

Passengers waiting for flights, some for hours, were asked to leave the airport and gathered in parking and waiting areas outside the building.

“I have been here since 3:00 am, and there is no flight, there is no information, we have just been told now to wait for communication,” stranded passenger Mercy Mwai told AFP.

Another, Christine, questioned: “why are police using unnecessary force with teargas at an airport?”

Some passengers received medical treatment on-site for tear gas inhalation, according to an AFP journalist at the airport.

The workers, who had not announced their labour action beforehand, are angry about the planned takeover of the airport, operated by the state-run KAA, by national carrier Kenya Airways.

But Transport Minister James Macharia said workers need not worry.

“What they were fearing is that the proposed merger between KQ (the acronym for Kenya Airways) and KAA will result in job losses but we gave assurances that that will not happen,” he told journalists at the airport, and promised flights will resume shortly.

“So this (strike) is completely uncalled for because the deal has not happened.”

According to the KAA, more than 7.6 million passengers and 313,000 tons of cargo passed through JKIA in more than 111,000 aircraft movements in 2017.

The airport contributes just over five percent to Kenya’s gross domestic product.

Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz said 24 departing flights, and two arrivals, were affected by the strike, but “we expect the situation to normalise during the day.”

“We are set to resume operations, although the process is a bit slow,” he said. “Our flights to London, Dubai, and Mumbai will be departing shortly.”

AFP

Economic Activities Grounded In Belgium Over Strike

Union members stand at Brussels national airport in Zaventem, on the outskirts of the Belgium capital, on February 13, 2019, during a national general strike. THIERRY ROGE / BELGA / AFP

 

Belgium slowed to a standstill on Wednesday as a national strike closed airports, shuttered businesses and caused major disruption to railways.

The strike, called by three unions, severely disrupted the country’s public transport, particularly in Brussels, where a meeting of NATO ministers was set to take place.

The national railway company expected half the trains nation-wide would be cancelled because of the movement, but high-speed train traffic to London and Paris should be mostly spared.

The air traffic control agency, Skeyes, announced on Tuesday that it would not allow any flights to or from the country because it could not determine with certainty which employees would come to work.

READ ALSO: French ‘Yellow Vest’ Boxer Faces Trial For Assaulting Police

No aircraft flying below 8,000 metres altitude would be allowed to fly over the country, the agency warned.

Skeyes was not able to say how many flights or how many passengers would be affected.

Unions are calling for higher wages, putting pressure on the right-of-centre government ahead of general elections in May.

Brussels, home to NATO, will be hosting a meeting of defence ministers that day, with officials from throughout the transatlantic military alliance converging on the city.

“We have no indication of any impact of the strike on the meeting,” a NATO official told AFP.

Charleroi airport, the second largest in Belgium and a local hub for low-cost giant Ryanair, had already announced its closure.

Belgium’s Brussels Airlines has cancelled all its 222 flights.

The German carrier TUI fly will operate its scheduled Belgian flights from the nearest French and Dutch airports.

AFP

Why We Suspended Nationwide Strike – ASUU

Why We Suspended Nationwide Strike – ASUU

 

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday suspended its nationwide strike after three months.

ASUU National President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, announced this at a press conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The union suspended the industrial action following its latest meeting with representatives of the Federal Government led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Nigige.

READ ALSO: ASUU Suspends Nationwide Strike After Three Months

Read the full statement issued by the ASUU President below;

ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU), NATIONAL SECRETARIAT. TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU), THURSDAY, 7TH FEBRUARY, 2019, AT NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS HEADQUARTERS, PASCAL BAFYAU HOUSE, ABUJA

Protocol

Friends and compatriots of the Press, On Sunday, 4th November, 2018, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) resumed its strike action which was conditionally suspended on 14th September, 2017.

The action of 2017 was suspended following the signing of a Memorandum of Action (MoA) in which the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) promised to address the contentious issues within a timeline that was to end in October 2017.

While announcing the suspension of the nationwide action, however, our Union made it categorically clear that “ASUU will not hesitate to review its position should government renege on the signed Memorandum of Action”.

Predictably, Government implemented the MoA in the breach, thereby forcing ASUU to resume the suspended strike action.

Comrades and compatriots, as we have always argued, the last thing ASUU members love doing is to cause disruption in smooth intellectual engagements with colleagues, friends and students right on our university campuses.

This has nothing to do with the dubious advertorial of “non-disruption of academic calendar” by proprietors and administrators of some cash-and-carry universities and other self-styled enemies of ASUU.

Rather, it is about deep-seated pains members of the Union undergo to prevent strike actions and the equally painful consequences strike situations bring to all who are genuinely averse to the mercantile disposition to university education.

Why Strike Action? The question has been asked time and time again: Why does ASUU like embarking on strike action that causes disruption and dislocation in the universities?

However, ASUU is strongly convinced that if academics fail to fight the cause of university education, the fate that befell public primary and secondary schools would soon become the lot of the public university system in Nigeria.

ASUU’s advocacy on the need to stem the continued slide into rot and decay in public universities since the 1980s has fallen on deaf ears. Our experience, as a trade union, shows that successive governments in Nigeria always entered into negotiated agreements only to placate those pleading the cause – be it education, health, transportation, employment or any other issue of meaningful living.

This proclivity of the Nigerian ruling class, irrespective of which wing of the insensitive stock they belong, must be continually be tracked, engaged and resisted by all people of goodwill.

ASUU ‘s action strike, which started on 4th November, 2018, was situated in the context of accumulated records of indifference and lackadaisical attitude of Government to negotiated agreements with the Union.

At our media interaction in University of Lagos on 23rd  December, 2018, we highlighted the outstanding issues in the crisis to include the following:

– Funding for the revitalization of Public Universities based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA  of 2017

– Reconstitution of the current Government Team to allow for a leader and Chairman of the FG-ASUU Renegotiating team who has the interest of the nation and the people at heart.

Release of the forensic audit report on Earned Academic allowances (EAA), offsetting the outstanding balance of the EAA and mainstreaming of same into the 2018 budget.

– Payment of all arrears of shortfall in all universities that have met the verification requirements of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA)

– Provision of a platform by the federal government for ASUU to engage Governors on the proliferation of universities, underfunding of university education and undue interference in the affairs of the universities

Release of PFA operational license to NUPEMCO

– Payment of EAA to loyal ASUU members at the University of Ilorin A new Memorandum of Action and Our Resolution To date, ASUU has had a total of ten (10) interactive meetings with representatives of FGN which have culminated into a Memorandum of Action of

2019.

Highlights of the MoA include the following:

  1. In addition to the N20 billion for 2018, the sum of N25 billion only would be released in April/May 2019, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013.
  2. Part-payment of the outstanding arrears of the earned academic allowances; defraying the balance up to 2018 in 4 tranches within 36 months; and mainstreaming further payments of EAA into the annual budgets beginning from 2019 budget.
  3. PICA verification and the release of the arrears of salary shortfall at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, not later than 15th February 2019.
  4. Strengthening the Consultative Committee on State-owned Universities (CCSOU), inaugurated on Monday, 28th January, 2019 to look into the issues of proliferation, underfunding and governance to consistently deliver on its mandate.
  5. Payment of the outstanding EAA arrears of all eligible staff in the University of Ilorin, especially the loyal ASUU members whose appointments were illegally terminated by today, 7th February, 2019.
  6. Acknowledgement and appreciation of Government for facilitating the release of the final letter of approval for the granting of operational license to NUPEMCO.
  7. Visitation to all Federal Universities would commence tentatively by 11th March, 2019.
  8. Provision of documented guidelines on procedures and roles of parties in the process of renegotiating FGN-ASUU Agreement of 2009 which would commence not later than 18th February 2019 and end by Friday 29th March 2019.

Based on the initial proposals from Government, the Union made extensive consultations through its various organs. The final level of consultation was the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) which took place 6th-7th February 2019.

NEC resolved that: Following a careful review of the report of engagements with the Federal Government on proposals for addressing all outstanding in the 2013 MoU and 2017 MoA, NEC resolved that the current strike action by the Union should be suspended conditionally with effect from 12.01 a.m on Friday 8th February 2019.

However, should Government fail to fulfill its part of the agreement as reflected in the 2019 Memorandum of Action, ASUU shall resume its suspended strike action as the Union deems necessary.

Conclusion

ASUU notes, with serious concern, the covert and overt roles of some vice-chancellors in the management and application of funds attracted by our Union to Nigeria’s public universities.

Consequently, we condemn, in the strongest terms, Vice-Chancellors who have made efforts to undermine and, in some cases, attempted to break our patriotic struggles for the revitalisation of public universities in Nigeria.

ASUU will not shy away from taking headlong those Vice-Chancellors who are reputed for acts of impunity, nepotism and other forms of conduct which are antithetic to university culture and the progressive development of our universities.

Our union will compile all their shenanigans and forward them to relevant authorities for further action.

Finally, ASUU acknowledges the understanding and support demonstrated by patriotic Nigerian students and their parents all through the strike period.

We equally appreciate the comradely assistance from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), represented by the newly re-elected President, Comrade Ayuba Waba, who has stood by us throughout the struggle.

We also acknowledge the solidarity of the civil society organisations, especially the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), and members of the progressive wing of the media who have consistently partnered with us in our mission to rescue Nigerian public universities from imminent collapse.

While we put a closure to this phase of the struggle, it is our hope and desire that the Nigerian governments (Federal and State) will play the roles expected of them in order to make the new Memorandum work.

We shall never abandon our obligation to ensure the survival of a sound university system.

For ASUU, the struggle certainly continues!

Thank you for listening.

Biodun Ogunyemi

President

7th February 2018

[UPDATED] ASUU Suspends Nationwide Strike After Three Months

BREAKING: ASUU Suspends Nationwide Strike After Three Months

 

The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its nationwide industrial action.

National President of the union, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, announced this on Thursday during a press briefing at the Nigeria Labour Congress complex in Abuja.

The striking lecturers took the decision after a meeting with representatives of the Federal Government led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

READ ALSOWhy We Suspended Nationwide Strike – ASUU

The meeting came hours before Professor Ogunyemi announced the decision of ASUU to suspend the strike.

It had in attendance leaders of the union and government representatives such as the permanent secretaries at the ministries of Education, as well as Labour and Employment, and some directors from the ministries.

According to the ASUU President, the government has demonstrated a commitment by meeting some of their demands.

He added that the government has signed a new agreement that would fast-track the revitalisation of universities, one of the critical demands of ASUU which led to the protracted industrial action.

ASUU suspended its industrial action three months since the lecturers went on strike in early November 2018.

The union went on strike following an emergency meeting of its leaders at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The lecturers had accused the government of failing to address its demands.

They also raised concerns over the poor funding of Nigerian Universities, the alleged plot to increase students’ fees, introduction of an education bank, as well as non-implementation of previous agreements, among other issues.

The government, on its part, said it was worried about the action of the union which has paralised academic activities in universities where ASUU has a presence across the country.

This prompted the call by individuals and groups to the government to ensure the students return to school without any further delay.

Meanwhile, the government has held several discussions with the union leaders, in its bid to end the industrial action.

Signs of hope began to emerge on Friday last week following a meeting between the government and the union.

The minister and the ASUU President had told reporters at the end of the meeting that they were making progress to address the issues raised by the striking lecturers.

Although they did not give any specific detail, they had promised to address a press conference at the end of today’s meeting which resulted in the suspension of the strike.

 

Read the full statement issued by the ASUU President below;

ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU), NATIONAL SECRETARIAT. TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU), THURSDAY, 7TH FEBRUARY, 2019, AT NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS HEADQUARTERS, PASCAL BAFYAU HOUSE, ABUJA

Protocol

Friends and compatriots of the Press, On Sunday, 4th November, 2018, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) resumed its strike action which was conditionally suspended on 14th September, 2017.

The action of 2017 was suspended following the signing of a Memorandum of Action (MoA) in which the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) promised to address the contentious issues within a timeline that was to end in October 2017.

While announcing the suspension of the nationwide action, however, our Union made it categorically clear that “ASUU will not hesitate to review its position should government renege on the signed Memorandum of Action”.

Predictably, Government implemented the MoA in the breach, thereby forcing ASUU to resume the suspended strike action.

Comrades and compatriots, as we have always argued, the last thing ASUU members love doing is to cause disruption in smooth intellectual engagements with colleagues, friends and students right on our university campuses.

This has nothing to do with the dubious advertorial of “non-disruption of academic calendar” by proprietors and administrators of some cash-and-carry universities and other self-styled enemies of ASUU.

Rather, it is about deep-seated pains members of the Union undergo to prevent strike actions and the equally painful consequences strike situations bring to all who are genuinely averse to the mercantile disposition to university education.

Why Strike Action? The question has been asked time and time again: Why does ASUU like embarking on strike action that causes disruption and dislocation in the universities?

However, ASUU is strongly convinced that if academics fail to fight the cause of university education, the fate that befell public primary and secondary schools would soon become the lot of the public university system in Nigeria.

ASUU’s advocacy on the need to stem the continued slide into rot and decay in public universities since the 1980s has fallen on deaf ears. Our experience, as a trade union, shows that successive governments in Nigeria always entered into negotiated agreements only to placate those pleading the cause – be it education, health, transportation, employment or any other issue of meaningful living.

This proclivity of the Nigerian ruling class, irrespective of which wing of the insensitive stock they belong, must be continually be tracked, engaged and resisted by all people of goodwill.

ASUU ‘s action strike, which started on 4th November, 2018, was situated in the context of accumulated records of indifference and lackadaisical attitude of Government to negotiated agreements with the Union.

At our media interaction in University of Lagos on 23rd  December, 2018, we highlighted the outstanding issues in the crisis to include the following:

– Funding for the revitalization of Public Universities based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA  of 2017

– Reconstitution of the current Government Team to allow for a leader and Chairman of the FG-ASUU Renegotiating team who has the interest of the nation and the people at heart.

Release of the forensic audit report on Earned Academic allowances (EAA), offsetting the outstanding balance of the EAA and mainstreaming of same into the 2018 budget.

– Payment of all arrears of shortfall in all universities that have met the verification requirements of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA)

– Provision of a platform by the federal government for ASUU to engage Governors on the proliferation of universities, underfunding of university education and undue interference in the affairs of the universities

Release of PFA operational license to NUPEMCO

– Payment of EAA to loyal ASUU members at the University of Ilorin A new Memorandum of Action and Our Resolution To date, ASUU has had a total of ten (10) interactive meetings with representatives of FGN which have culminated into a Memorandum of Action of

2019.

Highlights of the MoA include the following:

  1. In addition to the N20 billion for 2018, the sum of N25 billion only would be released in April/May 2019, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013.
  2. Part-payment of the outstanding arrears of the earned academic allowances; defraying the balance up to 2018 in 4 tranches within 36 months; and mainstreaming further payments of EAA into the annual budgets beginning from 2019 budget.
  3. PICA verification and the release of the arrears of salary shortfall at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, not later than 15th February 2019.
  4. Strengthening the Consultative Committee on State-owned Universities (CCSOU), inaugurated on Monday, 28th January, 2019 to look into the issues of proliferation, underfunding and governance to consistently deliver on its mandate.
  5. Payment of the outstanding EAA arrears of all eligible staff in the University of Ilorin, especially the loyal ASUU members whose appointments were illegally terminated by today, 7th February, 2019.
  6. Acknowledgement and appreciation of Government for facilitating the release of the final letter of approval for the granting of operational license to NUPEMCO.
  7. Visitation to all Federal Universities would commence tentatively by 11th March, 2019.
  8. Provision of documented guidelines on procedures and roles of parties in the process of renegotiating FGN-ASUU Agreement of 2009 which would commence not later than 18th February 2019 and end by Friday 29th March 2019.

Based on the initial proposals from Government, the Union made extensive consultations through its various organs. The final level of consultation was the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) which took place 6th-7th February 2019.

NEC resolved that: Following a careful review of the report of engagements with the Federal Government on proposals for addressing all outstanding in the 2013 MoU and 2017 MoA, NEC resolved that the current strike action by the Union should be suspended conditionally with effect from 12.01 a.m on Friday 8th February 2019.

However, should Government fail to fulfill its part of the agreement as reflected in the 2019 Memorandum of Action, ASUU shall resume its suspended strike action as the Union deems necessary.

Conclusion

ASUU notes, with serious concern, the covert and overt roles of some vice-chancellors in the management and application of funds attracted by our Union to Nigeria’s public universities.

Consequently, we condemn, in the strongest terms, Vice-Chancellors who have made efforts to undermine and, in some cases, attempted to break our patriotic struggles for the revitalisation of public universities in Nigeria.

ASUU will not shy away from taking headlong those Vice-Chancellors who are reputed for acts of impunity, nepotism and other forms of conduct which are antithetic to university culture and the progressive development of our universities.

Our union will compile all their shenanigans and forward them to relevant authorities for further action.

Finally, ASUU acknowledges the understanding and support demonstrated by patriotic Nigerian students and their parents all through the strike period.

We equally appreciate the comradely assistance from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), represented by the newly re-elected President, Comrade Ayuba Waba, who has stood by us throughout the struggle.

We also acknowledge the solidarity of the civil society organisations, especially the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), and members of the progressive wing of the media who have consistently partnered with us in our mission to rescue Nigerian public universities from imminent collapse.

While we put a closure to this phase of the struggle, it is our hope and desire that the Nigerian governments (Federal and State) will play the roles expected of them in order to make the new Memorandum work.

We shall never abandon our obligation to ensure the survival of a sound university system.

For ASUU, the struggle certainly continues!

Thank you for listening.

Biodun Ogunyemi

President

7th February 2018

Strike: FG, ASUU Meeting Adjourned Till Thursday

ASUU Strike Continues As Union Demands Strong Commitment From FG

The meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has been adjourned till Thursday (February 7, 2019).

Today’s meeting makes it the 9th time the striking lecturers are meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige to resolve the industrial action which has lingered for almost three months.

The lecturers proceeded on strike on November 4, 2018, in protest of what they described as poor welfare, university revitalization among other demands.

Speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting, the labour minister as well as the ASUU President noted that they are making progress.

Both parties, however, refused to give any specific details, stating that the  press will be briefed after next Thursday’s meeting

Read Also: ASUU Strike Continues As Union Demands Strong Commitment From FG

FG Holds Emergency Meeting With ASUU

ASUU Strike Continues As Union Demands Strong Commitment From FG

File Photo: ASUU in a previous meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment.

The Federal Government is currently holding an emergency meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), behind closed doors.

This is the ninth time the striking lecturers are meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment to resolve the industrial action which has lingered for almost three months.

The lecturers proceeded on strike on November 4, 2018, in protest of what they described as poor welfare, university revitalization among other demands.

Read Also: ASUU Strike Continues As Union Demands Strong Commitment From FG

Details later…