THE Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) on Thursday announced the suspension of their three weeks old strike with effect from midnight of Friday, 26th February, 2021.
In a press release after a meeting of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU on Thursday, 25th February 2021, the unions though they have met with representatives of the federal government on three occasions on the issues in contention that led to the nationwide industrial action, none of the demands over which the strike was embarked upon have been immediately addressed or implemented by the federal government.
According to the press release signed by Comrade Prince Peters A. Adeyemi, General Secretary of NASU, and Comrade Mohammed H. Ibrahim, National President of SSANU, while no immediate gains have been made from the strike, the unions, at the end of the deliberation with government, were however able to reach understanding with the government with specific timelines.
The unions said their resolution to suspend the strike was essentially based on their overriding concern for the interest of “hapless Nigerian students and the educational system which has suffered untold damage and deterioration occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic and industrial actions in the last one year.”
The unions further stated that they felt that embarking on a prolonged strike that would last months would cause more damage and frustration to the already sorry state of the university system.
While expressing the hope that the federal government would “reciprocate the patriotic and compassionate consideration of the leadership of the two unions and ensure that the agreements are implemented according to the set timelines,” the unions asserted that their decision should “never be taken as cowardice or foolishness but in the interest of the students and the system which we hold very dear to our hearts.”
Stating that the “ultimate buck to avoid industrial actions in the university system lie solely on government,” the JAC urged the government to make every effort to abide by the agreed timelines in order to avoid setting the system back in the event the unions embarked on another strike.
JAC Writes Branches on Suspension
Meanwhile, the JAC has directed all branches of NASU and SSANU to return to work following the suspension of the strike from midnight of Friday, 26th February.
In a circular to their union’s branches, signed by Comrades Adeyemi and Ibrahim, NASU and SSANU General Secretary and National President, respectively, thanked members in the branches for their perseverance and doggedness in the struggle have government meet their demands.
The circular reads in part: “You will recall that the ongoing strike action commenced on the midnight of Friday, 5th February, 2021, after a 3-day nationwide protest and 14-day notice to the Government to take action on the content of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached and signed on 20th October, 2020.
“After the review of the strike action at the meeting held with the Branch Chairmen of NASU and SSANU on 12th February, 2021 at Chida International Hotel, Abuja, Branch Chairmen were directed to go back to their respective branches and hold Congress to take decisions on the strike.
“Having reviewed the collated responses from the Branches and the signed MoA with the Federal Government with identified timelines, the National JAC arising from her meeting of Thursday, 25th February 2021 hereby announces the suspension of the ongoing strike.
“Consequently, you are hereby informed that the strike action has been suspended from the midnight of Friday, 26th [February] 2021.”
Below is the full text of the press statement:
PRESS RELEASE ON THE OUTCOME OF THE NEGOTIATION BETWEEN THE JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE (JAC) OF NASU AND SSANU AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON THURSDAY, 25TH FEBRUARY, 2021
Our dear friends from the media
You would recall that the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU had embarked on a national strike which commenced on the midnight of Friday, 5th February 2021, after a three-day nationwide protest and a 14-day notice of strike to take action on the content of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the Federal Government and the Unions on Tuesday 20th October 2020.
The issues in contention are:
- Inconsistencies in IPPIS payments
- Non-payment of arrears of National Minimum Wage
- Non-payment of earned Allowances
- Delay in renogiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU 2009 Agreements
- Non-payment of retirement benefits to outgone members
- Teaching staff usurping Headship of Non-teaching Units in clear violation of Conditions of Service and establishment procedures
- Neglect and poor funding of State Universities
- Non-constitution of Visitation Panel for Universities.
Following the announcement of the strike action, discussions ensued between the Federal Government, led by the Honourable Minister of labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the leadership of the two Unions at the meetings held on Tuesday, 2nd February, Thursday, 11th February and Thursday, 25th February, 2021.
At the end of the deliberations, understandings were reached with the Government side with specific timelines. In line with democratic tenets and practice, we also consulted our various organs at the Branches with a view to getting resolutions on the way forward on the strike action.
The decisions of members from the various Branches were informed by patriotic intentions given the fact that none of the specific issues over which the strike was embarked upon have been immediately addressed or implemented by Government. Even though the Government had given promises and assurances to stick to the terms of the Memorandum of Action as specified, the actions or inactions of Government in the following days and in line with the timelines, shall however determine their sense of honour and respect for Collective Bargaining Agreements. Our resolve, going forward is made in the interest of the hapless Nigerian students and the educational system which has suffered untold damage and deterioration occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic and industrial actions in the last one year. Having a prolonged strike by the JAC of NASU and SSANU lasting into months would only add more to the already sorry state of the University system.
We hope that Government shall reciprocate the patriotic and compassionate consideration of the leadership of the two unions and ensure that the agreements are implemented according to the set timelines. We cannot afford to have our system set back due to protracted and avoidable industrial actions and we believe that the ultimate buck to avoid industrial actions in the university system lie solely on Government. Our decision should never be taken as cowardice or foolishness but in the interest of the students and the system which we hold very dear to our hearts.
Consequently, in view of the written commitment so far gotten from Government via a Memorandum of Action and in line with the majority resolution of our members across the Universities and Inter-University Centres that the strike be suspended while expecting Government to act in good faith on the Memorandum of Action, it is with great sense of responsibility that we announce the suspension of the industrial action with effect from the midnight of Friday, 26th February, 2021.
We thank our members in the Universities and Inter-University Centres for their resilience and commitment. We equally thank members of the press and other stakeholders for their interest in the plight of the non-teaching unions of NASU and SSANU in the university system. We implore you to continue to use your good offices to prevail on Government to respect the terms of the memorandum of Action in order to avoid another industrial action being a fallout of the failure of implementation of the MoA.
Prince Peters A. Adeyemi Com. Mohammed H. Ibrahim
General Secretary, NASU National President, SSANU