By Gabriel Dike, Lagos
Striking members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) have given the federal government two major conditions that must be met before the three-week-old industrial action would be suspended.
The conditions were reached during SSANU and NASU congresses mandated by the leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) to make inputs into what the Federal Government offered at the last negotiation.
After exhaustive deliberations on whether to suspend the ongoing strike or it should continue, JAC agreed that each branch should hold congress by Friday, February 19, and resolutions from the various branch congresses should be sent to the national leadership accordingly, to guide the unions on the next line of action.
At the meeting with government officials, the leadership of JAC demanded an additional N20 billion earned allowance for SSANU, NASU members.
The federal government, however, implored JAC to go and disburse the 10 billion earlier released to non-academic staff and that the current amount demanded from the accrued EA had been included in the 2021 supplementary budget scheduled.
Following the explanation from the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, on earned allowance, JAC demanded a forensic audit of earlier tranches released, so as to serve as a guide to know how much had been given and how much that is left for payment to SSANU, NASU members.
On the new minimum wage, the consequential arrears had been computed for federal tertiary institutions at N18,629,473,983.30 and to be incorporated into the 2021 appropriation budget.
This was extensively deliberated and it was resolved that it will be included in the 2021 supplementary budget and to be presented before the National Assembly and government officials pleaded for three months for it to be finalised.
Federal government delegations further explained that the amount involved cannot be accommodated in the current budget but as such, it had been included in the supplementary budget to be passed and approved for payment within three months.
On the strength of the two major demands and other issues deliberated, JAC asked branches to make inputs into government offers and on Friday, February 19, congresses held in universities.
At UNILAG JAC congress voted for the continuation of the strike until the federal government pay the arrears of the new minimum wage and N20billion as part of the payment of earned allowances owed to non-teaching staff.
Daily Sun learned that at two universities in the South West, the striking workers insisted the government must give time lag to pay the N20 billion and the arrears of the new minimum wage.
In the South-East, JAC in three federal universities kicked against the suspension of the three weeks old strike until the government show commitment to pay the N20 billion earned allowance and arrears of the minimum wage to members.
JAC members at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, voted to suspend the strike till April to enable the federal government source for fund to pay the new minimum wage arrears and balance of the earned allowance.
The congress warned that if the government fails to pay at the end of April 2021 as promised, suspension of the strike should be lifted or reviewed for resumption.
JAC leadership at the meeting with government officials stated that no members of SSANU and NASU should be victimised for their role in the ongoing national strike.
It was learned that JAC leaders will soon meet to deliberate on the outcome of the various congress decisions on government offers.
Non-teaching staff in public universities nationwide on Friday, February 5 embarked on an indefinite strike to protest the non-implementation of the signed agreement since 2009 by the Federal Government, arrears of minimum wage, the balance of earned allowance, irregularities in implementation of IPPIS and other demands.