FG Gives Varsity Workers Five-day Ultimatum, Begins Payments

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The Federal Government, after a nine-hour meeting with the striking university workers, has given the Joint Action Committee five days to consider government’s offers and resolve the strike.

The JAC is comprised of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, and the National Association of Academic Technologists.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who said this late on Thursday after the meeting in Abuja, noted that government had mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to begin the payment of the money that the unions were asking for.

He said, “During our reconciliation meeting, the issues (in question) are non-payment of earned allowances, lack of good governance in the universities, poor funding, inadequate infrastructure, shortfalls in salaries and the universities’ staff schools.

“The issues that were raised – apart from one or two – are the same ones we have been tackling with the Academic Staff Union of Universities. We agreed that the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation should expedite action on the payment of these monies.

“On the implementation of the judgment obtained by the unions from the National Industrial Court, we have mandated the National Universities Commission to issue circulars to implement the judgment. Also, the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has initiated the process of ensuring compliance with the judgment. The unions are to get back to the government by Wednesday, September 20, after having presented our recommendations to their executive councils.”

The JAC President, who is also the SSANU Chairman, Samson Ugwoke, said, “We tried to agree on certain issues, even when the government was still saying ‘no money’. But we believe that money should be made available. The government has said that before we come back, certain amounts of money would have been paid in. They don’t have to pay into the accounts of our individual members. If they pay into the accounts of the universities, we will accept and believe it.”

Meanwhile, sources close to ASUU said on Friday that no tangible decisions had been made at the National Executive Council meeting on whether the union would call off the strike or not.

The sources said there had yet to be a consensus.

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