Industrial unrest looms in university system, NASU, SSANU warn
• Say we have never had it so bad
The varsity workers, under the auspices of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and other Associated Institutions (NASU), said on Thursday that they would immediately commence a nationwide strike as soon as the university system reopens after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the union’s said there “will be a showdown in the university system effective from when universities would be directed to reopen for activities after the COVID-19 lockdown,” over the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke, warned that industrial unrest looms in the university system, adding, “if fight we must, then fight we will.”
According to Ugwoke, the issues on contention are the IPPIS under which the university system has witnessed a “cacophony and cocktail of confusion on account of salary payments since their enrollment under the platform; non-payment of arrears of earned allowances owed NASU and SSANU members; non-payment of arrears of minimum wage and other sundry issues affecting the university education.
The JAC chairman said: “For the Joint Action Committee, while we acknowledge that reopening of schools is becoming inevitable, we note that government has not done anything to actualize safe reopening and for the parents and students, it would be a case of “to your tents o Israel!
“Having highlighted the above, we note that the reopening of schools is also predicated on industrial peace in the system which is obviously eluding us with the developments over IPPIS, non-payment of Earned Allowances and Arrears of Minimum Wage and we may just be kissing goodbye to a seamless and peaceful reopening of schools, especially the Universities in the nearest future.”
Insisting on a strike action after all efforts to get the government address the problems failed, Comrade Ugwoke said: “Our dear colleagues and friends, members of the public, Industrial unrest looms in the University System. As responsible Unions, we have avoided these crises but the irresponsibility of government and its officials have led us to a point where it has become inevitable. If fight we must, then fight we will.
“We have again cried out to the general public with a view to inviting stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on government to correct the anomalies of IPPIS, pay us the arrears of both Earned Allowances and Minimum Wage, among all the other issues highlighted above, failing which it will be a showdown in the university system effective from when universities would be directed to reopen for activities after the COVID 19 lockdown.
We still believe there is hope and this hope is through you, the media and the general public to call on the government to do the needful.
“If by the time schools are asked to reopen and the needful is not done, it means hope is lost and the earlier avoidable industrial conflict becomes inevitable. This is what we seek to avert, hence this public outcry and call.”
He explained that despite their suspicions at the initial stage, NASU and SSANU decided to join the IPPIS platform following series of engagements with the government and the promises that allayed some of the fears they had about the IPPIS software.
Ugwoke said: “However, and painfully, following the enrolment of our members into the platform, it has become a case of ‘from frying pan to fire’. Our enrolment has turned out to be a complete disaster because of the series of inconsistencies and irregularities currently being witnessed in the payments of salaries and emoluments of our members.
“We daresay that never has Nigerian University System witnessed such cacophony and cocktail of confusion on account of salary payments as experienced under the IPPIS regime. We have never had it so bad.”
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