By Appolos Christian
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the non-teaching staff unions of universities on Friday 26, February, 2021 suspended its three weeks old strike.
JAC, comprising the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of the Universities (NASU), then said it would not hesitate to reverse it decision and down tool; should the Federal Government reneges from fulfilling the terms of agreements that necessitated the suspension.
Explaining in its formal statement, the Unions stated; “The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU had embarked on national strike which commenced on the midnight of Friday 5th February. 2021, after a three day nationwide protest and a 14 day Notice of Strike to take action on the content of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the Federal Government end the Unions on Tuesday 20″ October, 2020.
The issues in contention are 1 Inconsistencies m IPPIS payments, 2 Non-payment of arrears of National Minimum Wage, 3 Non-payment of Earned Allowances, 4 Delay in renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU 2009 Agreements, 5 Non-payment of retirement benefits to our gone members, 6 Teaching staff usurping Headship of Non-teaching Units in clear Violation of Conditions of Service and Establishment procedures, 7 Neglect and poor funding of State Universities, 8 Non-constitution of Visitation Panel for Universities.
“Following the announcement of the strike action, discussions ensued between the Federal Government, led by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment Sen. Chns Ngige, and the leadership of the two Unions at the meetings held on Tuesday, 2nd February, Thursday. 11″ February and Thursday, 25th February, 2021.
“At the end of the deliberations, understandings were reached with the Government side wih specific timelines in line with democratic tenets and practice, we also consulted our various organs at the Branches with a view to getting resolutions on the way forward on the stnke action. The decisions of members from the various Branches were informed by patriohe intentions given the fact that none of the specific issues Over which the stnke was embarked upon have been immediately addressed.
“Consequently, in view of the written commitment so far gotten from Government via a Memorandum of Action and in line with the majority resolution of our members across the Universities and Inter-University Centres that the strike be suspended while expecting Government to act in good faith on the Memorandum of Action. It is with great sense of responsibility that we announce the suspension of the industrial action with effect from the midnight of Fnday, 26″ February, 2021.
“We hope that Government shall reciprocate the patnotic and compassionate consideraton of the leadership of the two unions and ensure that the agreements are implemented according to the set timelines. We cannot afford to have our system set back due to protracted and avoidable industnal actions and we believe that the ultimate buck to avoid industnal actions m the university system lie solely on Government. Our decision should never be taken as cowardice or foolishness but in the interest of the students and the system which we hold very dear to our hearts.
“Even though the Government had given promises and assurances to stick to the terms of the Memorandum of Action of the 8 specified, the actions or inactions of Government in the following days and in line with the timelines shall however determine thelr sense of honour and respect for Collective Bargaining Agreements Our resolve.
“Going forward is made in the interest of the hapless Nigerian students and the educational system which has suffered untold damage and deterioration occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic and industnal actions mn the last one year Having s prolonged stnke by the JAC of NASU and SSANU lasting into months would onty add more to the already sorry state of the University system
“We thank our members in the Universities and Inter-University Centres for the resilience and commitment.
We equally thank members of the press and other stakeholders for their interest in the plight of the Non-Teaching Unions of NASU and SSANU in the university system We implore you to continue to use your good offices to prevail on Government to respect the terms of the Memorandum of Action in order to avoid another industrial action being a fallout of the failure of implementation of the MoA.”