Withheld salaries: SSANU, NASU strike grounds varsities

National President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, has called on the Federal Government to pay the four months withheld salaries of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational Associated Institutions.

This was in reaction to the seven-day warning strike that SSANU/NASU began on Monday, which grounded universities’ activities across the country.

SSANU and NASU had for about a month called the attention of the government to its exclusion from the payment of the withheld salaries which it commenced payment for the Academic Staff Union of Universities in February.

Their salaries were withheld when the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay policy’ against the Academic Staff Union of Universities and SSANU for embarking on a strike that lasted eight months and four months in 2022 respectively.

A statement signed by Ajaero, said, “We join our affiliate unions, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities in demanding the immediate payment of the withheld salaries of their members.

“There has been no credible reason or explanation for withholding those salaries in the first place.

We recall this singular act plunged the members into indescribable hardship.

“Much worse, it defies logic to try to subject members of these unions to discriminatory treatment. By so doing government is courting avoidable industrial disputes. At a time, when confidence is being restored to the public universities the least the government could do is not engineer another strike. The toll on all the parties will be unacceptably high, especially for students and parents who bear the burden of movement on our dangerous roads. In light of this, we urge the government to expeditiously pay up the outstanding. We advise the government to not take for granted the maturity of these unions.”

Meanwhile, the National President of SSANU, Muhammed Ibrahim revealed that the strike recorded 90 per cent success, adding that its members were angry.

Ibrahim told The PUNCH: “I want to believe that those in government should understand the reality and if they are serious about education in the interest of the masses they should act accordingly. The president already has a waiver that we should be paid but some people decided not to pay us.

“They feel we are lesser mortal or not important or they think university is all about ASUU only. They should understand that it is a recipe for trouble. When they don’t have water on campus, or no electricity, we remove the security personnel from the gate and our students are on campus, then they will know it is a terrible issue.

We have recorded 90 per cent success our people are angry, they are not happy, it is clear injustice.”

On Monday, the strike by NASU and SSANU paralysed activities on university campuses across several states.

At the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, the  NASU Chairman, Mr Zuberu Ibrahim, said the strike was a success as members of the two unions complied totally with the directive of the national body.”The compliance of our members to the strike is total. We held a congress at the gate of the university early on Monday before members dispatched to their respective homes and this will continue in the next seven days.”

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 At the University of Jos, Plateau State, SSANU  and NASU  members on Monday paralysed activities at the school.

When our correspondent visited the institution, the university’s gates were shut while staff and students who tried to gain entrance were stranded at the entrance.

In a letter which was jointly addressed to the Vice Chancellor of the university,   chairman of the institution’s branch of NASU, Monday Kpaji, and his counterpart in SSANU, Anthony T. Joro, said the strike would last for seven days  in line with the directive of their national secretariat.

At the Joseph Sawuan Tarka University in Makurdi, formerly Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, the strike was equally observed.

Our correspondent, who visited the school, observed that the two unions commenced the strike after an emergency congress on Monday.

SSANU and NASU in a letter jointly signed by the chairpersons of the unions Kpamor Ruth and  Saa Moses, in Makurdi, said they waited patiently till the expiration of the ultimatum without a positive response to their demands.

At the University of Abuja,  SSANU members blocked the entrance to the university gate on Monday.

It was a similar situation at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, where the two unions grounded academic activities.

Speaking to journalists at the campus, the institution’s SSANU Secretary, Bonny Ozonkwuaku, said, “As it stands now, all our offices at Administration block, classrooms, faculties, departments work and maintenance, security and students’ affairs units are all under lock and key and that will be the case for the next seven days until and unless the needful is done.

“The Federal Government is treating the non-teaching staff with disdain and impunity, and we are saying no to that. Members of the unions have not been paid their 2022 arrears.”

At the Federal University of Technology, Akure, SSANU and NASU members gathered at the university’s main entrance, grounding normal school activities.

The Chairman of SSANU, Felix Adubi, said, “We grounded the administrative and technical services on the campus and it continues tomorrow.”

At the Olusegun Agagu University of Technology, Okitipupa, the SSANU Chairman, Dayo Temola said, “We are on strike because it is an injury to all of us.”

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