The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is set for a fresh war with the federal government over the government’s decision to pay lecturers half salaries for the month of October, 2022.
On the same day, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige said the federal government cannot go against the “No Work, No Pay” rule as it affects members of ASUU, and that their October salaries were computed on this basis.Already, the ASUU leadership is said to have summoned an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council in Abuja, to decide its response to the half October salaries paid by the federal government.
The National President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, remarked: “Half salaries were paid, no reasons were given whatsoever. We learnt that Ngige wrote to the office of the Accountant General and Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and told them to only pay us for the period when we called off the strike. We heard there was a letter to that effect but we haven’t gotten it yet. We are going to summon a meeting.”Anger erupted across the federal universities when members of the union received half salaries in their accounts early this week.ASUU members at the University of Jos yesterday ordered its members to stay at home indefinitely, pending the payment of salaries withheld by the federal government.
The ASUU branch made this known in a statement signed by the branch chairman, Professor Lazarus Maigoro.The statement reads, “One of the issues agreed at the meeting was that 50 per cent of the backlog of eight months arrears of our withheld salaries will be paid to our members immediately but as at the time of writing this press release, only 17 days prorated October salary was paid to our members by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
“Having stayed for about nine months running now, our members in the University of Jos considered this an insult to them by the Accountant General of the Federation. Is the Accountant General of the Federation actually answerable to the Minister of Labour?“We are also aware that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, wrote a memo to the Accountant General asking him to pay our members only from the day we suspended the strike.
“This further creates doubts on our minds as to whether the understanding reached with the leadership of the House of Representatives on some of the issues will be implemented at all by those who are saddled with the responsibility of doing so in order to avoid further needless strikes.“From all indications, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has personalised the matter between him and our union and is on a mission for vendetta.
“It has become crystal clear now that he wasn’t happy that the House of Representatives brokered a truce on some of the issues we went on strike for and has gone behind to undermine it.“It is also very clear to us now why he shamelessly walked out on the leadership of the House of Representatives at one of the meetings with all stakeholders to the glare of all Nigerians because he never wanted any form of resolution to be reached on the issues being discussed.
“In view of the bottleneck placed by Ngige towards paying our members the backlog of our salaries, the congress of ASUU University of Jos met today (yesterday November 4, 2022) and resolved to stay at home, though not on strike, until the backlog of the withheld salaries are paid.”A University teacher in Lagos remarked: “I was shocked when I received an alert from my bank and I noticed that I got half salary; they didn’t even talk about the backlog of the eight months of the strike.”
ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.Amid the back-and-forth over the union’s demands, the federal government had threatened not to pay the lecturers for the strike period, but a review of the decision was said to have been made.On October 14, the union suspended its strike and directed members to resume work immediately
The Minister of Labour and Employment has said that the federal government is barred from doing anything about the No Work, No Pay rule as it affects members of ASUU.
Against the background of the half salaries the federal government paid the university teachers for the month of October, Ngige said there was nothing unusual about it since the lecturers were paid according to work done.He said the issue of “No Work, No Pay” as it affects ASUU members is before the National Industrial Court and cannot be reversed for now unless the court says so.“The court will have to pronounce whether a worker in Nigeria can be on strike and receive pay, vis-a-vis the ASUU strike now. Can they be paid?” asked the minister.