By Appolos Christian
Workers in the nation’s research institutes under the aegis of Academic Staff of Research Institute (ASURI) have declared a trade dispute with the ministry of Science and Technology.
The workers in a letter declaring their intents and addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the minister of Labour and Employment and the minister of Science and Technology blamed the refusal to conduct 2017 promotion interviews in many research institutions amongst others as the reason for their actions.
The letter which was signed by ASURI general secretary, Dr. Theophilus Ndubuaku blamed the Permanent Secretary in the the Ministry, Dr Amina Shamaki for thwarting the promotion exercises by way of excuses.
He said the union will commence picketing of the ministry of science until their demands are met.
The union decried what it described as serial emasculation of academic staff in research institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology, saying despite several pending trade disputes, notices of strike and picketing, all have failed to prod the ministry to adopt a humane approach to harmonious labour relations.
It also called for the redeployment of the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, saying she has not shown she understands the importance of science and technology in the advancement of the country.
The letter reads partly “The latest in the series of outrageous unfair labour practices and disregard for harmonious labour relations on the part of the FMS&T is the refusal to conduct 2017 promotion interviews in many research institutions namely – Nigeria Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research (NITR), Zaria; National Institute of Leather Research (NILEST), Zaria; National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, NARICT, Kaduna. There has arisen a stumbling block to a normal process in a manner that is indicative of highhandedness and a strategy to brew crisis. This of course will lead to stagnation of work in these institutions.
“We have found based on all the pressure that we exerted on the management of these institutions that the hand may be that of Esau but the voice belongs to Jacob. All fingers point to the Ministry and particularly to the Permanent Secretary of FMS&T, Dr (Mrs) Shamaki, as being responsible for delaying and perhaps thwarting the promotion exercises by way of excuses. The reason has become apparent.
“Even the excuse that the institutions were on strike at the later part of 2017 is lame and untenable because across the twelve MDAs that supervise research institutions in Nigeria, the Union did not prevent any of them from conducting promotion interviews.
May we recall that until the deployment of Dr. (Mrs) Shamaki to FMS&T almost all industrial crises in institutions under the supervision of the ministry have been at the institutional levels with FMS&T playing a mediatory role. The current Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) will testify to this assertion as the ASURI and her office enjoyed very cordial labour relations during her tenure as PS of FMS&T. Sadly, in this very short period of the deployment of Dr. Shamaki, who we had expected to be more understanding of our plight, things have taken a turn for the worse. The lead administrator and mediator at FMS&T has now become the instigator of crisis instead of the solution.
Research has been acknowledged by the Federal Government of Nigeria and globally as the springboard of Science and Technology and the critical factor for development. All Government policies have so declared. It is therefore not only unacceptable but certainly unsustainable that a serial crisis brewer and contentious administrator reputed for intransigence should continue to serve as mediator if not as judge.
In the light of the above we hereby state unequivocally that we will employ all available legal options to ensure the following:
He therefore called on the federal government to ensure that staff promotions are conducted and backdated in all institutions under the ministry and that all acts of “injustice suffered by our members at NABDA and BIODEC are redressed.”
By Appolos Christian