The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has backed the on-going strike by the non-teaching staff of the university, saying that the strike would continue until justice is done.
President of NLC Comrade Ayuba Wabba spoke as the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU, NAAT and SSANU, embarked on a protest rally to the Ministry of Education and the National Assembly, to further draw the attention of the legislature, President Muhammadu Buhari and the public to the issues in contention and the problems in the university system.
Comrade Wabba said the rally had become necessary and very imperative because the government has kept reneging on its promises; adding that the strike would continue until government do the right things.
Wabba said: “The rally have become necessary as govt keep reneging on its promises. So, the strike must continue until justices is done because the sector needed more attention as they have not been able to receive the desired attention it deserved
“Everything possible needs to be done for this sector because of our future generations. So, it must be a priority of government and all stakeholders. We must also ensure that the right thing is done.
The Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, gave the reasons for the rally and highlighted the issues in contention, when the protesters were received by the representatives of the Senate President at the National Assembly.
Ugwoke said: “We need to let the National Assembly know why we are sad, we need to let them know and sensitize them on the injustices going on in the university system.
We need to let them know the plights of the Nigerian universities and also workers in the system.
“We want them to come in and investigate the universities and find out why our graduates are not employable. We are not pleased with the state of affairs and strongly believe that with your intervention all matters that led to the current industrial action of the Joint Action Committee unions shall be addressed.
“We also deemed it imperative to humbly draw the attention of His Execellency on the ongoing strike action embacked upon by the non-teaching staff unions based on our demands for the full proper implementation of our 2009 agreement.”
He pointed out that the three unions under the Joint Action Committee have had several meetings with the federal government, without success.
Highlighting the issues involved, he said: “The specific issues are one, the reinstatement of our members in the university staff schools, who were removed from the budget of the universities bases on obnoxious circular from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission in gross contravention of the 2009 agreement with Federal Government; which also the National Industrial Court has ruled in our favour.
“Two, the issue of payment of Earned Allowance where a sum of N23 billion released by government in sept 2017, was skewed in favour of a sister union by some government officers thereby leaving 11 per cent of the said amount to the non-teaching staff.
“Three the issue of shortfalls in salary payment where our members have been receiving fractions of their salaries for upward of a year now. Four, the issue of career progression for Technologists to CONTISS 14 and 15, in line with the agreement reached with NAAT.”
“Five, usurpation of non-teaching career positions by academic staff and six corruption in the universities system.
“We also want to state that we have signed two difference MOUs with government through the minister of labour, yet to no avail. Nothing tangible on ground except verbal assurances. But rather a segment of university system was being favour to our detriment. So, we want you to intervene.”
Sen. Bukar Aba-Ibrahim, who represented the Senate President, assured them that the National Assembly would do everything to fight corruption in the university.
He said: “Immunity brings anarchy, so I want to assure you that we are going to fight corruption in the universities squally. I also want to assure that every worker will get its allowances, among other demands that you have made will be tabled before the house.
Also Sen Sani Shehu said, “I will assure you in the name of the struggle and in the name of the Nigerian people that I will pursue your demands to logical conclusion.”
The Director, Tertiary Education, in the Ministry of Education, Mr Joel Ojo
said while receiving the protesters that the ministry is doing all to ensure that the issues affecting the university system are resolved immediately
“The ministry is interfacing with the National Assembly and modalities have been put in place to resolve the ongoing strike and make sure normalcy returned back to the universities.
“I want to assure you that the Federal government is committed and I want to plead with you to give us some time.,” he added.