Varsity workers declare nationwide indefinite strike

•To begin midnight of February 5

Varsity workers, under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Non- Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), have declared an “indefinite, comprehensive and total strike,” with effect from Friday, 5th February 2021.

However, the Unions said they have delayed the immediate take-off of the strike till February 5, to give the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders opportunities to arrest the situation.

The strike is coming about a month after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), called off its strike, which paralyzed all academic activities in the university system for over 10 months.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Friday, the leadership of the unions, warned that if the government failed to address all the issues in contention, the strike would commence from the midnight of February 5.

The General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, who spoke on behalf of JAC leadership said the decision to declared the strike was based on the resolutions of the congress held across the branches.

Giving details of the congress resolution, Comrade Adeyemi explained that 90 per cent of NASU members in all its branches across the country were in support of strike; while only 10 per cent were against strike.

Equally, he explained that 83 per cent of SSANU members were clearly in support of strike, while 11 per cent were against strike, and 6 per cent indifferent.

“It is in line with the resolution of our members nationwide, that the leadership of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU hereby resolve as follows: That members of NASU and SSANU shall embark on an indefinite, comprehensive and total strike with effect from midnight of Friday, 5th February 2021.

“That two weeks’ notice effective from today, Friday 22nd January 2021, is hereby given to Government and relevant stakeholders of this development.” Comrade Adeyemi said.

He explained that JAC of NASU and SSANU reached an understanding with the Federal Government and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tuesday 20 October, last year on all the contentious issues affecting the university system and the welfare of their members.

The issues involved are: Inconsistencies in IPPIS payment; Non- payment of Earned Allowances; Non- payment of arrears of National Minimum Wage; Delay in renegotiation of FGN/ NASU and SSANU 2009 Agreements.

They also include Non- payment of Retirement benefits of outgone members; Teaching staff usurping Headship of Non-Teaching units in clear violation of Conditions of Service and Establishment procedures; Neglect and poor funding of state universities; and Non-constitution of Visitation Panels for Universities.

He regretted that out of the items upon which agreements were reached, only one item- constitution of Visitation Panels has been implemented.

He said: “Our friends in the media, having painstakingly taken you through all the issues as agreed upon in the October 2020 Memorandum of Understanding with Government, it should be easy for you to deduce that out of the seven items upon which agreements were reached, only one item- constitution of Visitation Panels has been implemented. Even that item was not implemented within the time-line as agreed upon and is still only partially implemented.

“It was against this background that the national protests were embarked on the January 12 to 14, 2021, with a view to drawing the attention of necessary stakeholders to the issues and seeking redress as appropriate. Sadly, till date, no response has been gotten and it would seem that the government played deaf to our protests and lamentations.”

Comrade Adeyemi added: “As stated earlier, the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU had been very circumspect about embarking on strike action. It has never been our style to undertake strike actions at the drop of a hat. Sadly, it would appear that our non-belligerent modes of engagement have been taken for weakness and our belief in civil engagement and dialogue has been taken for granted.

“It is against this backdrop and in a democratic spirit that the leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU threw back the decision after the three- day protests to the various memberships across branches on the way forward and the resolutions have been overwhelming.

“The resolutions across the Branches have been overwhelming and convey the disenchantment of members over the sorry state of affairs.”

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