Withheld Salaries: We Will Shut Universities If… Non-Teaching Staff

Non-teaching staff in the nation’s public universities are set for an indefinite industrial action following the non-payment of their withheld salaries.

The workers are under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Allied Institutions, NASU.

They are protesting the non-payment of their salaries withheld as a result of their strike in 2022. The non-teaching staff have five and a half months’ salaries withheld by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Bola Tinubu last October directed that four months’ salaries be paid university staff, but only teaching staff were paid last February leaving non-teaching out.

The non-teaching staff two weeks ago embarked on warning strike to press home their demands.

Speaking with Vanguard, the National President of NAAT, Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, said the House of Representatives has waded into the matter.

“We were invited last Wednesday by the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education, representatives of the National Universities Commission NUC, the Committee of Vice Chancellors and others were there. Before our three-day warning strike, members gave the mandate that we should go on full blown strike.

“However, the committee pleaded with us that we should hold on. That they are now on recess and could do little. They pleaded that we give them the opportunity to reconvene after the recess and they would wade into the matter fully. In view of this, we want to give them the benefit of doubt and see what we happen between now and the end of April, ” he said.

The National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, said, “Our members went on strike in March 2022 and it was over the refusal of the government to fulfill the 2009 Agreement we had with the government. The agreement was to be renegotiated every three years but that was not done. Over 15 years now, what we have been having is taking a step forward and taking two backwards. Government keeps tossing us from one committee to another.

“They are owing us five and a half months from that strike action, but they paid teaching staff four months withheld salaries and forgot others. The same attitude is what obtains when you have Earned Allowance to be paid. Some people would just arrogate to themselves the power to take whatever they like from the money and leave the crumbs for others.

” Those who set up the university system knew the importance of all workers, whether teaching or non-teaching, if not, a single person would have been saddled with responsibility of being the teacher, driver, technologist, accountant and so on, ” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, Comrade Ibrahim of SSANU, wondered why non-teaching staff are seen as not important in the system.

” We were at a meeting late last year after the pronouncement by President Bola Tinubu that four months salaries would be paid and the Minister of Education was there and he gave the assurance that all would benefit, now the reverse is the case. We are not a strike happy union but we are being pushed to the wall. Between 2022 and now, we have lost over 100 members due to their inability to take care of themselves because of lack of fund.

“When they paid the teaching staff four months salaries, we wrote a protest letter to the government and the receipt of it was acknowledged, but could you believe it that this is the fifth week, we have not heard anything from the government, ” he said.




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