. Says govts’ actions threat to industrial peace on campuses
From: Gabriel Dike
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Tuesday, warned that it would not rule out strike option if the federal and state governments continued to pay its members half salaries every month due to shortfall in subvention to public universities.
The ASUU Lagos Zone Coordinator, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, who issued the warning while briefing newsmen at ASUU University of Lagos secretariat, said the federal and state government must stop the practice or face the consequences.
Prof. Sowande, who was flanked by chairmen from different branches in the zone, disclosed that the shortfall in salary payment has made it difficult for its members to meet their obligations to their family.
He warned that the deliberate and continuous payment of fractional salaries to its members would a threat to industrial harmony in the nation’s universities stressing ‘’while awaiting the final decision of our National Executive Council (NEC) on this matter, the public is being intimated to prevail on both federal and state governments to do the needful for sustainable peace and industrial harmony in our public universities.’’
Sowande said the deliberate and unilateral reduction of university workers salaries is not acceptable to ASUU and that the action of government is a clear violation of the principle of collective bargaining.
The zonal coordinator recalled ASUU embarked on a one week warning strike in November 2016 to press home its demand on issues pertaining to members’ welfare as contained in the 2009 ASUU/FG agreement adding ‘’among the issues in contention was inadequate funding of universities and irregular payment of salaries.’’
According to him, government in recent times have been eroding and violating the agreement by reneging on the salary component of the agreement through the introduction of shortfall in salary warrants resulting in fractional payment of salaries in the universities.
Prof Sowande disclosed that fractional payment of salaries was experimented with few universities like University of Lagos when the wage bill was deliberately reduced in most parts of 2016 forcing the institution to source for funds to augment payment.
Said he: ‘’In February 2017, virtually all federal universities were affected with government unilaterally cutting the salaries of university workers. The percentage reduction varies from one university to other and above the eight per cent claimed by government officials.
‘’In February 2017 for example, the salary shortfall in UNILAG was N125million and at University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, a shortfall of about N55.5million was reported.’’
He described the issue of salary shortfall in the universities not only uncharitable, insensitive, inhuman and wicked, but also the action is highly provocative noting ‘’for ASUU Lagos zone, this is a drastic and debilitating condition which requires a drastic solution.’’
He disclosed that the story is not different in the state universities, especially Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) and Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) where inadequate funding and meagre subvention has forced the administrations in these universities to source for funds through various means, including jerking up tuition and other fees being paid by the students to meet their salary obligations.
‘’It is disheartening to note that Ogun state government did not consider payment of several months of outstanding subventions to these two universities while expending the N10.6billion excess Paris Club debt refund released to the state by the federal government as if the staff of these institutions are not part of the workforce, Sowande noted.
The ASUU boss urged Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State to use part of the share of the second tranche of N500 billion excess Paris Club debt refund, which would soon be released to the 36 states in the next few days to ameliorate the funding problem in TASUED and OOU