Some students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), on Wednesday protested allege threat by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to go on strike over government’s payroll system.
Nigeria News Agency reports that ASUU had rejected a Federal Government’s directive mandating academic workers to enrol into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) before Dec. 7.
The students in their numbers also staged the peaceful protest to reject ASUU’s alleged directive to withhold student’s second semester results.
The students, who disrupted a meeting by ASUU in the university campus, held placards with the inscriptions: ASUU let our academic calendar stand; Say no to strike; Stop exploiting students, among others.
Sowari Daniel, President, Students’ Union Government (SUG) in UNIPORT, who led the protest at the campus in Port Harcourt, called for Federal Government intervention.
“The SUG rejects ASUU’s unpatriotic approach of inciting academics against government’s well intended policies and UNIPORT management’s innovations to stabilise and revitalise the university’s system.
“ASUU’s threat of strike action is unpatriotic move in the face of current realities in UNIPORT, where all stakeholders are making efforts to revive the system.
“We learnt of ASUU’s meeting to move forward their plan to strike on Dec. 20. So, students took protest to their meeting to avert any strike by lecturers.
“There is no justification for the incessant strike actions in the University of Port Harcourt,” he said.
Daniel said the student body was dismayed with ASUU’s directive to its members to withhold students’ second semester (2018/2019 session) results.
The SUG president claimed that the call by ASUU was an attempt to hold the university management to ransom and serve a cheap political point.
According to him, the alleged unpopular decisions taken by ASUU in UNIPORT recently led to the formation of a break-away faction, the Congress of University Academics (CONUA).
“To this end, the UNIPORT branch of SUG is giving its full support and loyalty of CONUA. We also urge management to give full support to CONUA.
“Consequently, the student’s union has ceased to recognise the gathering of any group of people in our university in the name of ASUU,” he said.
NAN reports that CONUA, a faction of ASUU, had on Tuesday opened its branch in UNIPORT with lecturers in their large numbers participating in the opening.
Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu
Unilag ASUU advises FG on appointment of pro chancellors
The Unilag Chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has advised the Federal Government that only persons with interest in public education should be appointed Pro Chancellors.
Dr Dele Ashiru, the Chairman of the chapter, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Lagos against the backdrop of resignation of Dr Wale Babalakin, the Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of Unilag.
NAN reports that the Federal Government, had on Aug. 21, directed both Babalakin and the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, to recuse themselves from official duties in Unilag.
The development was to allow for the outcome of a special visitation panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the lingering crisis between the institution’s governing council and the Senate.
Babalakin, however, tendered his resignation letter to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, immediately after the visitation panel submitted its report on Sept. 17
Babalakin’s resignation letter cited disagreement with the Federal Government on the visitation panel sent to the university, among other claims.
According to the Unilag ASUU boss, the departure of the former pro chancellor will pave way for academic stability in the university.
He said that his constant interference in the daily affairs of the institution by the pro chancellor had constituted a set back to the peace and progress enjoyed by the university community.
‘I feel the sudden resignation of the former pro chancellor is a welcome development.
”We thank the Visitor to the university, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, for the timely intervention in ending dictatorship and high handedness in our dear university.
”My advice to the Federal Government is to be more circumspect in appointing pro chancellors in federal universities.
”It should ensure that only those with interest of public education at heart should be so appointed.
”Babalakin should understand that his resignation cannot atone for the many set backs his activities has caused the institution,” he said.
The unionist said that with the voluntary resignation of Babalakin, the university would begin to regain its lost glory.
”We are convinced that with the support of all other stakeholders, the institution will bounce back to the path of peace, progress and academic excellence for which the university is renowned,” Ashiru said
NAN reports that Mr John Momoh, Chief Executive Officer, Channels Television, has since been appointed as acting pro chancellor of the university pending the outcome of the report of the panel.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Tajudeen Atitebi
Protest: Unions shut LASU’s gate over new minimum wage
The in-house unions of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, on Monday locked the institution’s gate, preventing its management, staff and students from entering into the institution’s premises.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that representatives of the unions said that their action was to protest the delay in the payment of the new minimum wage to the staff of Lagos State tertiary institutions by the state government.
The unions comprise: the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
The unions told the management of LASU to resume duty at the Ministry of Education, Alausa, Lagos.
NAN reports that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, during the 17th update on the management of the Coronavirus pandemic in Lagos State on Aug.29, asked the state-owned tertiary institutions to reopen on Sept. 14.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the N30,000 new National Minimum Wage Act into law, effective April 18, 2019, thus repealing the Minimum Wage Act of 2011.
Dr Ibrahim Bakare, said that the school would remain shut if the new minimum wage was not paid to its staff.
Bakare said that the members of staff of all the tertiary institutions in Lagos State had resolved to prevent the institutions from reopening, if the state government did not begin to implement their minimum wage.
“On this issue, we have to comply with the directives of the joint tertiary institutions in Lagos State that, as from today, if the minimum wages of our members are not paid, then we will commence an indefinite strike.
“We believe that the state government will take the appropriate decision in terms of implementing the minimum wage and its arrears.
“Other workers from state parastatal agencies started enjoying the minimum wage increment 18 months ago. I do not understand why tertiary institutions should be an exemption.
“We had met with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour and with other education stakeholders. But, there seems to be no readiness to commence the implementation of the new minimum wage,” the ASUU chairman said.
Bakare said that their members hoped that the government would implement and start paying their minimum wage by the end of this month.
Oseni said that they had continued working for 18 months since the implementation of the new minimum wage by the Federal Government; adding that they had not received anything from the state government.
“We thought the state government will do the needful but to our surprise the government is yet to commence the implementation of minimum wage.
“Other workers in the state have started receiving their minimum wages, yet we are all working for the same state.
“We are still getting the same salary as when a bag of rice was N7,000; and a dollar was N169 to a dollar.
“This is not just or fair, we want everybody to know that we have tried and waited long enough for the state government to implement the minimum wage,” he said.
Oseni added that it was the hard work and commitment of staff, which made LASU one of the best universities in the nation, adding that government needed to compensate them.
“The problem is not with our management but our government. The government needs to rise up and do the needful,” the SSANU chairman said.
Mr Moruf Sanni, Chairman, NASU, LASU chapter, threatened that even, if the staff and students stayed outside the school gate till the next day, they would not allow anybody to enter into the school premises.
Sanni said that government did not appreciate their services and work so they needed to acknowledge government’s actions with corresponding action of their own.
Fagbohun said that every state in the country was challenged due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which had affected a lot of things, especially, the state’s finances.
“We will continue to dialogue with the unions until we are able to have an amicable resolution.
“We assure our students that there will not be any problem regarding resumption, LASU has resumed academic activities but we will resolve every issue with the unions,” the Vice-Chancellor said.
Abdulbasit Ashade, President of Lagos State Students Union, said that the management and unions had been sacrificing a lot in order for the students to be able to resume peacefully.
Ashade said that it was unfortunate that students got to the campus gate this morning to find that the unions were refusing students, staff and management access into the institution.
“We hope they will allow the students to have access to school because they should realise that students have stayed long enough in their homes.
“We need to start lectures and write our examinations very soon.
“We want the government to attend to the unions. Since the state government had implemented the new minimum wage for other categories of workers, they should also do the same in all tertiary institutions in the state,” he said.
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Peter Dada
Economy: FG meets Organised Labour Saturday, lauds Resident Doctors
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige to meet with the organised labour, to avert possible industrial crises due to increment in Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and electricity tariff.
The minister made this known when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting with President Buhari in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, the meeting, which has been fixed for Sept. 12, will deliberate on state of the nation’s economy, particularly the dwindling government revenues as it affects the generality of Nigerians
He stated that he updated the president on the activities of his ministry soon after he briefed the President on the state of affairs in his Ministry.
“The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organized private labour; all the government institutions that have to do with the finances of government so that we meet with them and show them the books.
“So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the trade union congress and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations.
“The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Sept. 12), so, I will relate more with the Chief of Staff to the President and the leadership of the unions today so that we do this meeting tomorrow.
“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table. Their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people especially the workers, they will also table it so that we look at it.,” he said.
He explained that the recent upward review of electricity tariff was done by the regulatory body based on certain realities confronting the sector.
He said: “The electricity tariff as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity bands R1 and R2 and even in the R2 band, you have soft bands so that we can protect the rural poor and people who are in the suburbs.
“So, we are going to look at them holistically because we want a stable labour industrial union in the country so the President has been briefed and he is in tune and has given the support to talk to everybody we need to talk to.”
On the planned strike by the tripartite unions of the non-academic staff unions of universities, the minister said the government had already invited the leadership of the unions to a meeting to address their concerns.
“The tripartite unions of university system including some colleges of education and some hospitals; Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), we have invited them to a meeting.
“The leadership met with me last week and the major thrust of the challenges they have is on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) system.
“They claim and allege that the IPPIS system is over deducting some line items like taxes, the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes they claim the IPPIS system is charging more than they are supposed to debit.
“They also claim that some allowances that are peculiar to the university system like responsibility allowance, hazard allowance, field trip allowance and education of children allowance, that the IPPIS has stopped all of them.
“At the government level, we have discussed and we now want to do a special session with them, they come with their facts and the Accountant General will lead his team, the National Salaries and Incomes and Wages will also come and the Ministry of Labour will lead and then we discuss and find out who is treating the other unfairly,’’ he explained.
Ngige lauded the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) for suspending their nationwide strike.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the president of the association, Aliyu Sokumba on Sept. 10, announced the suspension of the strike, saying NARD would review the progress made in talks with the Federal Government in two weeks.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Schools reopening: Tertiary institution unions in Lagos state insist on payment of minimum wage
Academic and Non-academic unions of tertiary institutions in Lagos State have said that they will only begin academic activities if the state government pays them the new national minimum wage.
Mr Olugbenga Salami,one of the union leaders and the Vice-Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, LASPOTECH chapter , said that his union would not relent in its efforts to ensure the implementation of the new national minimum wage.
According to him, other civil servants in Lagos state have since been enjoying the new national minimum wage.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Lagos State tertiary institutions include: the Lagos State University (LASU),Ojo, the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH),Ikorodu and the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin.
NAN also reports that President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the N 30,000 new National Minimum Wage bill which became a law on April 18, 2019.
Salami added, “All the representatives of all the unions in all the tertiary institutions in Lagos State had a meeting with the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Labour,Mr Babatunde Williams, on Sept.8.
Also, the meeting was attended by representatives from the office of Special Adviser to the Governor on Education,and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
“The agenda of the meeting was the implementation of the new minimum wage to workers in tertiary institutions.
“After the meeting, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour assured them that the new national minimum wage and the consequential adjustment would be implemented but he added he could not say exactly when,” he said.
Salami said that the unions backed by the state chapter of the NLC,thereafter, resolved that no tertiary institutions in the state should open until the government begins to implement the new minimum wage.
“The three unions in LASPOTECH will abide by this decision.
“We, therefore, appeal to our members to stay away from their campuses from Sept.14 and awaits further directives from their unions,” he said.
“We had congress meeting with our members yesterday and there we agreed that we should tarry a while because of our peculiar situation.
“We all know that we are in school because of the students, we are considering them because they had been home for more than five months.
“We want them to complete writing their examinations and move on to the next level.
“AOCOED academic board has directed that students should resume on Sept. 14 and that their examinations will start on Sept. 21,”he said.
Ajayi said that their union were part of the agitation and demands for the implementation of the new minimum wage in all tertiary institutions in Lagos state.
Mr Moruf Sanni, the Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union,LASU chapter, said that their decision after their virtual congress was “no minimum wage ,no resumption until government implements the new minimum wage”.
Sanni said that students and staff members would not be allowed onto the campus on Sept.14.
“There is no sincerity from the government concerning the payment of minimum wage to all its staff in the tertiary institutions in the state.
“We do not have any issue with LASU management but we want government to pay our minimum wage,” he said.
Mr Saheed Oseni, the Chairman of the Senior Staff Union of Universities,LASU chapter, said that they would meet with their members before declaring their next step.
Oseni said that they would be having their congress meeting on Sept.14 for decisions on the new minimum wage.
On her part, Funmi Sessi, the Chairman of the NLC in the state , urged the government to do the needful by implementing and paying all its workers in tertiary institutions the new national minimum wage.
Sessi said that the NLC would support every decision reached by the unions in the tertiary institutions.
“Payment of the new minimum wage is long over due because other states had started paying their tertiary institutions their salaries.
“Government should stop delaying the payment of minimum wage because it is only the workers in tertiary institutions that have not received payment.
“NLC and all unions in all tertiary institutions had a meeting with the Special Adviser on Labour yesterday and he said we should give them time,”she said.
Sessi also advised that government should not rush in reopening schools, especially in Lagos state where they had more cases of COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do not know why the government is rushing to reopen schools. I pray there will not be the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic after school resumption in the country.
“Even, the Federal Government is still taking its time to put everything is in place before school resumption.
“ASUU also made governments know that schools should not be reopened until the coast is clear,” she said.
Sessi advised government at all levels to focus more on improving virtual learning for students in the state instead of rushing to reopen schools.
Edited By: Shittu Obassa/Peter Dada