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Why it’s difficult to increase varsity lecturers’ salaries – FG

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has said that any proposed increase in allowances and salaries by the Academic Staff Union of Universities that is not in sync with the National Salaries and Wages Commission will not scale through.

The minister also advised the union to work with what was obtainable with the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission and the Presidential Steering Committee on salaries and wages.

Saturday PUNCH reports that ASUU and the Federal Government had begun a series of negotiations aimed towards the suspension of the four-week strike declared by the union.

ASUU during its extraordinary National Executive Council meeting held at the University of Lagos on February 14,2022 had declared the action over what it claimed was the failure of the government to meet its lingering demands, including  earned allowances, release of revitalization funds for universities, increase in salary scale of lecturers, deployment of the UTAS payment platform for university workers, among others.

Following ASUU’s declaration, religious organizations, House of Representatives, Students bodies among others had called on the Federal Government to prevail on the union to end the strike.

 Speaking to Saturday PUNCH, Ngige explained that one of ASUU’s major demands was centered on the increase in allowances and salaries.

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According to the minister, increment in salaries and allowances is a process that undergoes due process.

He said, “The demands were not new areas, but issues already being addressed by the Federal Government since last year.

 “That is why I said we are shocked that they went on this strike. These issues were discussed November/ December last year up to the time we paid the monies for the Earned Academic Allowances. It was done last year. We paid N22.172 billion. So, they have received the money.

 “The second area is renegotiation of the 2009 agreement. It talks about renegotiation of their conditions of service, both salaries and allowances. I made it clear to them that there is a government process. The Federal Ministry of Education alone cannot wake up and increase your salaries.

 “There are known rates for allowances and any proposal not in sync with what the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission prescribed would not sail through.

 “I made it clear to ASUU that they should follow the normal route and work with the NSIWC and PSC in pursuit of their demands.

 “So, if you are talking about duty tour allowances for a lecturer in the university, who is also a public officer, it must not be above what is presently rolled out as the new guideline. If you are talking about hazard allowance, it must not be above what is obtainable for the university system.”

In a related development, a total shutdown of universities in the country may be imminent following a fresh strike notice to the Federal Government over non-implementation of signed agreements by the National Association of Academic Technologists, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions.

The threat is coming barely 13 days after the Academic Staff Union of Universities declared a one-month warning strike which has crippled academic activities in universities nationwide.

The Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU said at its meeting on February 24, 2022, it has reviewed the status of the Memorandum of Understanding reached with the Federal Government following its industrial action of January and February 2021.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday, President of NAAT, Ibeji Nwokoma explained that each branch of the union would hold congresses between March 15 – 16 to discuss the response of the FG to their demands.

He said the university technologists have given the government February 28 to March 14 to implement its demands, adding that the Joint Action Committee comprising SSANU and NASU have put its members on “red alert” over a possible strike.

He added that a two-week warning strike would be declared by NAAT on March 17, 2022 at the expiration of the two-week grace if there was no positive response from the government.

In a statement jointly signed by the General Secretary, NASU, Prince Peters  Adeyemi and National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, the JAC said, “Having waited one whole year for the consummation of the Memorandum of Understanding and despite all peaceful entreaties, we wish to notify all stakeholders in the Nigerian universities and Inter-University Centres and indeed all Nigerians of the possible breakdown of industrial peace in the university system borne out of disrespect for Collective Bargaining Agreements reached with NASU and SSANU by Government.”

Some of the demands of the unions include non – full implementation of the 2009 agreement, alleged refusal to release the enabling circular for the implementation of CONTISS 14 & 15 for Academic Technologists as contained in the MOU of 2017, 2020 and 2021; non-payment of Earned Allowance  as agreed in the MoU of 2021 and delay in renegotiation of 2009 agreement.

But the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the unions had not officially communicated their intention to embark on strike to his ministry and directed the unions to get in touch with the Federal Ministry of Education on the level of implementation of the MoU.

Meanwhile, some Nigerians on Friday in Abuja called on the Federal Government to meet ASUU’s demands.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria that the incessant strike was not good for the education sector, saying it had stalled the academic progress of many students.

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Education

Borno public school teachers now enjoying N30,000 minimum wage – Zulum

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A total of 4,491 qualified teachers under the Borno State Local Government Education Authority are now enjoying the monthly payment of N30,000 minimum wage with effect from August, 1, 2022.

The Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, stated this, saying he had approved the immediate implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage to the teachers.

The State Government under the leadership of Governor Zulum faced accusations on the social media last week that teachers working with public primary schools received monthly salary between N7,000 and N11,000 as take home pay.

Governor Babagana Zulum who just returned from Japan after an official engagements gave the approval while having meeting with the chairmen and members of the state civil service and local government service commissions, Head of Service, as well members of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at the Government House, Maiduguri on Wednesday.

Zulum also said promotion benefits of all state civil servants would be implemented from January 2022 to 2023 after a promotional examination, stressing that if Yobe State could conduct promotional examination, nothing should stop Borno from doing so.

“The problems in the state civil service and the local government service commissions are enormous. Many people could not understand the complexity of problems we have at hand, but I assure you we are going to sit down and address them with time.”

He lamented that about 3,000 teachers on the payroll of the LEA in the state did not have any qualified certificate, talk less of experience to teach, but assured that those trainable would be trained.

“We will take 1,000 unqualified teachers that are trainable to be undergo training at the Colleges of Education Waka Biu and Bama, while others will be trained in collaboration with National Teachers Institutes (NTI) for six months, and when pass the competency test, they will be observed into the system,” he said.

Borno State Chairman of the NLC, Yusuf Inuwa, commended Governor Zulum for the payment of 2020 leave grant to the state civil servants and assured him of the labour continued industrial harmony and support.

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Tuesday’s encounter with FG’s team was no meeting ― ASUU

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National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has said it does not see Tuesday’s encounter with the Federal Government’s team over the lingering strike by its members as a meeting.

This, the union said is because it has concluded everything with the Prof. Nimi Briggs Committee that the government sent to talk with it that day.

This was stated in a chat with Vanguard by a member of the National Executive Council of the union, Prof. Moyosore Ajao.

“Apart from the fact that the team came with nothing new other than to beg us to call off the strike, we concluded our meetings with the Briggs Committee on June 15, this year, so what do we have to do with them?

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“Moreover, their claim that they are going to incorporate our demands in next year’s budget if frivolous. What are they going to incorporate? Have we agreed on anything? For instance, regarding salary, they have not said this is what the salary will be and we have not also said we are accepting that.

“As far as we are concerned, the government has not negotiated those issues with us.
“The government is carrying about a bag of deceit and we will not fall for that. Let Nigerians ask the government what they are offering. So far, they have not offered anything,” he said.

Ajao, who is also the University of Ilorin Branch Chairman of ASUU, stated that members of the union were not insensitive to the plight of students, adding that everything is meant to make the sector better.

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Education

Strike: ASUU begins consultations on next move

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The National Strike Organising Committee of the Academic Staff Union of Universities has met to decide on the way forward concerning the ongoing strike by the union, The PUNCH reports.

The committee is made up of senior officials of the union.

This is as our correspondent learnt that zonal meetings will commence by the end of the week after which branches would go ahead with congresses.

A member of the union’s National Executive Council, who did not want his name in print because he was not permitted to speak on the matter, disclosed this to The PUNCH.

“The National Strike Organising Committee will meet today (Wednesday), after which zonal meetings will commence this weekend and then congresses will be held.

“From there, information will be passed to our members on the next development; the president alone cannot decide, there are processes,” he said.

Meanwhile, ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, on Wednesday, urged Nigerian students not to vote for politicians who have their children studying in institutions outside the country.

Osodeke spoke on a Twitter Space Webinar organised by Premium Times and tagged, ‘ASUU strike, Revitalisation Fund and the Way Forward.’

“Anybody you believe cannot take care of your interests, whose children are busy studying abroad, who are living abroad, don’t vote for them.

“I repeat, you don’t need to vote for them, because you don’t vote for people who will take your life,” he said.

The PUNCH reports that the ASUU has been on strike since February 24, 2022,

A meeting the union had with the Federal Government ended in a deadlock on Tuesday.

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