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Varsity workers move to shut campuses over withheld salaries

Nigerian universities workers under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU)…

Nigerian universities workers under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) have threatened to shut down various campuses.

They said the shutdown would begin on Thursday, July 4, 2024, which is the expiration of a two-week ultimatum over their 4-month salaries which were reportedly withheld by the federal government since 2022.

Daily Trust reports that the two varsity unions operating under the Joint Action Committee, had at a fortnight ago issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to pay its members the four months withheld salaries.

Checks by our correspondent showed that out of the four university unions that embarked on a prolonged strike in 2022, the federal government has only paid Academic Staff Union of Universities.

In a communiqué released on Tuesday after its 48th National Executive Council meeting that was held in University of Benin, Edo State, SSANU members threatened to withdraw their services at the end of the ultimatum if the government fails to pay them.

The communiqué signed by Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, President of SSANU, said JAC of both unions is expected to meet on the aforementioned date to review the government’s response to the ultimatum and take a common position on withdrawing their services.

He said, “NEC-in-session once again expresses utmost dismay at the unprecedented level of Government’s insensitivity and deliberate resolve to cause chaos in the university system by adopting the divide and rule policy to set unions on a collision course through preferential treatment of one union over others.

“Recall SSANU and other unions were compelled by government to embark on strike in 2022 over the refusal to honour a Collective Bargaining Agreement willingly signed by all parties.

“At the end of the strike, the then (Muhammadu) Buhari government further signed an elaborate agreement among which was the non victimization clause. However, government made a selective payment of the withheld salaries.

“While we do not begrudge the payment made to our colleagues, we expected same gesture to be extended to SSANU and NASU that legally complied with all procedures before embarking on the Industrial action.

“Despite all promises and media hypes by the Ministers of Education and Labour, including the House of Representatives to pay these arrears, Government has continued to dribble SSANU, even after the mutual agreement to suspend the one week warning strike in March this year.

“NEC in session deliberated on the matter and unanimously approved a long drawn comprehensive industrial action after concurrence with the Joint Action Committee meeting of SSANU and NASU scheduled for Thursday 4th July, 2024, if Government fails to pay the four months salary arrears.”

On the government’s approved wage award of N35,000 to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal which has been stopped, the association said the “gross inability of the wage award to heal the excruciating financial wounds is further compounded by its stoppage in Federal Universities with three months arrears already pending.

“Many states are yet to effect payment of the wage award to our members in state universities thereby increasing their economic woes,” he added.

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