Don’t go on strike over withheld salaries, NANS begs SSANU, NASU

The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions have threatened to disrupt industrial peace in universities if the government fails to release the withheld salaries of its members.

These salaries were seized during their strike in 2022 under the administration of former president Muhammadu Buhari.

The unions in a joint letter signed by the President of SSANU, Muhammed Ibrahim, and General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, questioned the rationale with which the government released four months of withheld salaries to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities but failed to release the withheld salaries of non-academic staff in the period under review.

Earlier, the unions wrote protest letters to the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman on February 13, 2024, over the exclusion of the Non-Teaching staff from the payment of outstanding four months’ salaries.

The statement read, “We are therefore shocked that two weeks after the letters had been sent and received by the appropriate quarters, the Federal Government has remained quiet and refused to take any step towards addressing this very sensitive issue and it seems as if the Federal Government is taking our maturity for granted.

“We like to confirm through this medium once again to the Federal Government that the pressure on us has intensified and we have done everything possible within our ambit to prevail on our members to maintain industrial peace and tranquillity.

“While we appreciate the Federal Government for paying our academic counterpart, we also deem it necessary that our members are also paid. The various feelers we are getting from our members in the universities and inter-university centres indicate that we can no longer guarantee and be able to sustain industrial peace in the university sector.

“We, therefore, use this opportunity once again to call on the Federal Government to do the needful within the next seven days as the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU should not be held responsible should the wheel of administration and corporate governance be grounded to a halt in the university sector, as we have exercised enough patience.

“If nothing is done by the Federal Government to positively address this situation and respond to our previous letters to them, the members of the two unions may be forced to meet soon to take all lawful and stringent decisions on the matter.”

Reacting to the issue, the Senate President, National Association of Nigerian Students, Mr Akinteye Babatunde-Afeez, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said the decision of the unions to embark on any industrial action would affect the educational system.

“Any industrial action at all, especially in the education system will affect Nigerian students, and that is not fair at all. All unions must learn to embrace dialogue instead of industrial actions and protests.

“Most students may lose their lives on their way home from school when the strike begins. Destinies will be delayed as many may have to postpone graduating at the appropriate time. There are a lot of dangers. Their demands are legitimate but they should consider us, students, who would be at the receiving end of this fight.”

Meanwhile, the Director of Press, Ministry of Education, Tina Obilor, could not be reached for comments on Friday as she did not respond to calls and a message sent to her.

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