The Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities have requested that the Federal Government satisfy their requests and pay their members’ salary arrears.
At various times, ASUU and other university unions went on strike, demanding better working conditions and the advancement of the nation’s higher education.
While SSANU and its sister union, the Non-Academic Staff Union, suspended the strike in August, ASUU suspended its eight-month strike in October following National Industrial Court and Appeal Court rulings.
However, the Federal Government only paid academics for 18 working days in October, while SSANU members were not paid for the four months they were on strike, claiming they would not be compensated for work not done.
However, ASUU launched nationwide rallies on Monday to urge their demand for full compensation.
In an interview with Sunday PUNCH, SSANU National President Muhammed Ibrahim stated that the union followed the proper procedure when going on strike, rendering the government’s no work, no pay policy unlawful.
He said, “For the four months that we were legally on strike, our money has not been paid. Government should do the needful because our strike followed all due processes. We notified the government before going on strike and therefore, there was no reason for the government to withhold our salaries.
“I urge the Federal Government to do the needful by ensuring that they release the withheld salaries of all university workers because the strike was forced on the staff by the government’s refusal to respect the 2009 agreement. The strike was borne out of the frustration of members.
“If they are claiming the policy of “no work no pay”, we are saying that labour laws say that members of staff have the right to embark on strike where their employers have infringed on their rights. Before you embark on strike, there are processes and procedures that you need to follow which SSANU has religiously followed.”
On her part, the ASUU Chairperson, University of Uyo, Happiness Uduk, said the Federal Government should be responsible for meeting the demands of the union, stressing that the labour law provided that workers should not be intimidated over strike actions.
She added that due to the refusal of the government to pay salaries, lecturers had been struggling to meet their obligations due to increase in prices of commodities, including transportation.
She said, “We were all shocked at the first week of this month when the government paid prorated salary. According to them, we were only been paid for the number of days which we worked, making it seem as if we are casual workers. Meanwhile, on our letters of appointment, if you check through, you will find out that nobody was employed as a casual worker, which means nobody should be paid daily.
“The current situation is that people are hungry and then as law abiding citizens we decided as a union to obey the ruling of the National Industrial Court; we have resumed work, yet the government is creating disharmony and disaffection.’’