Varsity lecturers not casual workers, ASUU replies FG on payment of half month salary to members

…As Gbajabiamila gives insight to Buhari’s approval for ASUU

The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the response of the Federal government to the demands of the union since it suspended the eight-month strike in October.

Members of the union were reportedly paid half salaries for the month of October.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment, while defending the payment, noted that the payment of half salaries to members was on pro-rata basis.

However, through a statement on Tuesday by ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke, the union described the attitude of the Federal government since its suspension of the strike as ill-founded.

The union slammed the government for treating Federal university teachers as mere casual workers.

It vowed to pursue legal means for positive resolution and called for calm among its members.

The statement reads: “Unfortunately, the response of government towards ASUU’s demonstration of trust was the so-called pro-rata payment for eighteen days as the October 2022 salaries of academics there portraying them as daily paid workers! This is not only an aberration, but a contravention of all known rules of engagement in any contract or employment for academics the world over.

“At an emergency meeting of the ASUU’s National Executive Committee (NEC) held on Monday, 7th November, 2022, the union deliberated on developments since its suspension of the strike. NEC noted with dismay that paying academics on pro-rata basis, like casual workers, is unprecedented in the history of university-oriented labour relations and therefore condemned the attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers in its entirety.

“NEC commends the membership of ASUU for their perseverance in the face of untold hardship and unwarranted provocation by some notorious agents of the ruling class. NEC further appeals for the understanding of Nigerian students, parents and other genuinely concerned individuals and groups whole the Union continues to pursue positive resolution of the avoidable crisis within the ambit of legality without compromising the interests and welfare of Nigerian intellectuals.”

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has disclosed why the Federal government may not fully pay lecturers for the eight months that ASUU was on strike.

Gbajabiamila, through a statement on Monday, said the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the proposal of “partial” payment was being awaited.

Titled ‘Statement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila on the resolution of outstanding issues between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government of Nigeria,’ the statement reads:

“When the Academic Staff Union of Universities called off their industrial action three weeks ago, it meant that academic activities could resume in our nation’s public universities, and students could return to their academic pursuits after the prolonged interruption. This decision was rightly heralded nationwide as the correct decision.

“Since then, the Executive and the House of Representatives have worked to address the issues that led to the strike. We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes the sum of N170,000,000,000 to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers. The bill also includes additional N300,000,000,000 in revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.

“Furthermore, the House of Representatives has convened the Accountant General of the Federation, the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. This effort is being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.

“The Executive position that it is not obligated to pay salaries to adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. This effort is being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.

“The Executive position that it is not obligated to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is premised on the law and the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions. Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.

“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required. Therefore, I urge all parties to be patient and grant each other the presumption of goodwill to the extent necessary to achieve our shared objectives. This is not a time for political brinkmanship. There is no more pressing objective than to preclude the possibility of further disruptions to the academic calendar of the universities. We must prevent this possibility by all means, as these disruptions risk the promise and potential of our nation’s youth.”

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