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ASUU threatens national strike over half-pay

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Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) warned the federal government yesterday that there could be a new crisis in universities that would be worse than all the others.

The union, however, has stated that its members will not and cannot continue to perform unpaid work.

Professor Rasheed Adeoye, the former ASUU chairman of the university and a union council member, and Dr Olatunji Abdulganiyu, the secretary of the union at the university, spoke to journalists in Ilorin, Kwara State, shortly after a protest by members of the union at the University of Ilorin branch. They said that the government’s reported payment of half salaries to members of the union for October was unacceptable and that they would fight it.

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The union leaders said: “As a law-abiding union, we have heeded the court’s directive, which directed that we resume duty while the substantive matter is being heard.

“However, after the resumption from the strike, to our utmost dismay, the government decided that half salaries be paid to our members for October 2022. This development is unacceptable and would be resisted by our union.

“The fact is that academics are not casual workers. Only casual workers receive pay pro-rate. The law of the land is also clear on this. Indeed, the National Industrial Court made it clear in a landmark judgement in 2020 that tenured staff cannot be paid pro-rata.

“It is very sad that the Minister of Labour is ignorant that academic staff engage in many activities aside from teaching duties. The primary duty of academic staff is research, and there are other activities that have continued to engage their attention irrespective of the strike or whether the school is in session or not.”

They went on to say, “Gentlemen of the press, let me assure you that our union is resolved to continue to call the attention of the government to its responsibilities despite the obnoxious treatment being meted out to us by the government.

“To this effect, though we have resumed work in our university, the government’s ignoble stance of withholding our eight months’ salaries, which is based on its ill-advised policy of ‘No work, No Pay’ is set to trigger fresh crises. In the coming days, the union would respond by considering invoking the ‘No Pay, No Work’ policy and would abandon the works that have accumulated for those periods during which the government has falsely claimed that our members have not worked.

“Members of the public are hereby sensitised and put on notice again that fresh crisis, which would surpass all previous ones, is looming again in the nigeria universities as our members cannot and would not continue to do free work that would not be remunerated.

“We hope that with this notice, all relevant stakeholders, who have the ears of the government and would act fast before the fragile peace restored on our campuses nationwide collapse.”

For the record, ASUU officials have stated that the union is seeking the “release of revitalisation fund to the public institutions in the country; release of White Paper of Visitation Panels to public universities which our union forced the government to convene; Renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FGN agreement and the termination of the obnoxious, ineffective, and corrupt-laden IPPIS as payment platform in the Nigerian public university system,” among other things.

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