- FG jittery over proposed varsity lecturers’ industrial action
By Gabriel Dike
Barring any last minute change of heart, university lecturers in both federal and state universities will down tools to protest the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement reached with the Federal Government.
Sunday Sun gathered that already, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) meeting is under way at its national secretariat, Abuja.
Investigations revealed that the Federal Government is jittery about the planned industrial action by university lecturers but it’s not clear if the ministers of education and labour and productivity have reached out to leaders of ASUU to avert the strike.
The NEC meeting, Sunday Sun gathered, will deliberate on the outcome of the referendum by the various ASUU branches nationwide as directed at the last NEC meeting held at Nasarawa State University.
Indications have emerged that majority of ASUU branches voted overwhelmingly for indefinite strike in an attempt to make the Federal Government implement the union’s demands. The demands have been lingering since 2009. ASUU members at the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, Lagos State University, four from North East, South South and three from South East voted for industrial action, but it was not clear as at the time of this report if the outcome was indefinite strike. ASUU branches nationwide on Friday held a referendum in line with an earlier directive by the National Executive Council (NEC) to vote on whether the strike will be indefinite, one month, one week warning and no strike.
The meeting of ASUU NEC is currently ongoing at the union’s secretariat in Abuja to deliberate on the outcome of the referendum conducted by the branches.
Feelers from the NEC meeting indicate that several of the branches including the University of Lagos (UNILAG), University of Ibadan (UI) and Lagos State University (LASU) voted for an indefinite industrial action. One of ASUU’s zonal coordinators told our correspondent that his zone voted overwhelmingly for strike and that the outcome of the referendum conducted on Friday will be collated to enable the union take a position.
Issues in contention include Federal Government breach of the 2009 FG/ASUU Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on financing grant to state universities, conditions of service, non-implementation of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) and re-negotiation of the agreement.
Other outstanding issues are non provision of revitalization funds to public universities, non release of NUPEMCO operational licence, payment of half salaries to members and the outstanding N880 billion in intervention fund government owes universities.
The ASUU NEC meeting will end early Sunday morning and the National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi is expected to address the press on the outcome of the crucial meeting. Indications are that Federal Government may invite leaders of ASUU to a meeting to douse the tension as a source from the Federal Ministry of Education disclosed that the news of the proposed strike caught government unaware. “The Federal Government is worried about the alleged planned strike by university lectures. I am sure that by Monday, the Ministers of Education and Labour and Productivity will invite leaders of ASUU to a meeting to iron out issues. It’s even good that the NEC meeting is holding in Abuja as government can easily reach out to them. I must admit that there are outstanding issues waiting to be resolved but the planned strike will not help matters’’, a source in the education ministry disclosed yesterday.