The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU), said at the weekend that there is no going back on the strike declared by the unions over the welfare of their members and the poor state of the university system.
The unions have also commenced mobilisation and sensitisation of their members nationwide and warned that the strike would commence on Friday if the Federal Government failed to address their demands and arrest the looming industrial unrest.
The unions, under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of SSANU and NASU, had declared a nationwide strike to commence on Friday, February 5, 2021, following the resolutions of their members during congresses held across the branches.
“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 that members of NASU and SSANU shall embark on an indefinite, comprehensive and total strike with effect from midnight of Friday, February 5, 2021.
That two weeks’ notice effective from today, Friday, January 22, 2021, is hereby given to Government and relevant stakeholders of this development,” the unions said at a press conference addressed in Abuja.
Speaking in an interview with Tribune Online at the weekend, the President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, said if nothing is done by the government to resolve their demands by Friday, “there is no going back, ” on the strike.
Regrettably, he said the Federal Government has not contacted the unions, while mobilisation of members across all the government-owned universities is in top gear.
He condemned the sharing formula used by the government in the recently released N40 billion for Earned Allowance, in which the government directed that N30 billion be given to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), while only N10 billion should be given to the other three university-based unions- SSANU, NASU and NAAT.
According to him, the government has no business giving money to unions to share, but to university managements who are the direct employers of all the workers and manage the system.
“My own position, and the position of my Union, SSANU is that the government has no business giving unions money to share because unions are not the parallel government. Unions are not employers of Labour,” he said.
He added: “Since the unions have fought and gained some approvals from the government, what government require to do is that such money should have been sent to the universities through the councils and management and let management decide who should get what.
“University management runs the system, and because every member of staff has his or her schedule of duties and condition of service, the university system takes care and know specifically who should get what. If you are a lecturer, your entitlements are there, spelt out; if you are an admin staff your entitlements are there, spelt out.”
The SSANU President decried what he termed the divide and rule system being adopted by the government and regretted that the government by its action is favouring some section of its workers while relegating others as less relevant within the system.
Comrade Ibrahim said: “This is while you will see in the next two weeks if the government does not fall in line with our requests and demands, we will shut the system because our members will withdraw and we will allow them to do the work of cleaning, security, and preparing salaries. Let us see who will prepare salaries.”
Also speaking with Tribune Online, on Sunday, SSANU National Vice President West, Comrade Abdussobur Olayiwola Salaam, said the government has refused to get across to the unions, adding that mobilisation and full sensitisation of their members were therefore going on across the branches.
Comrade Salaam said: “The strike is fixed to commence on Friday. As at today, to the best of my knowledge, the Federal Government has not gotten across to the unions. Mobilisation is ongoing across branches and they are being sensitised accordingly.
“The strike promises to be comprehensive and total. The actions or inactions of the government would define if it will be indefinite. How they address the issues and terms of the October 2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) upon which are our agitations are based, would determine the way forward in the days ahead