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Varsity staff begins strike over unpaid wages

By News Desk

The members of both the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) have withdrew their services nationwide, to kick-start a seven-day warning strike over unpaid wages by the Federal Government.

The seven-day industrial action which begins on Monday according to a memo addressed to the branches of the unions and dated Friday, 15 March, is in fulfilment of the earlier ultimatum issued to the apex government by the unions over the unpaid withheld salaries of their members.

Both leadership of the bodies directed chairman of the unions in the tertiary institutions across the country to ensure total compliance to the industrial action, in order to compel the government to release their funds.

The industrial action came barely two weeks after the unions urged the apex government to consider their case by paying their members.

The memo was issued by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both SSANU and NASU, and signed by the National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, and the General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi.

The memo reads in part: “Please note that the 7-day warning strike should be comprehensive and total as no concession should be given in any guise.

“Your strict compliance and adherence to this directive is mandatory for all NASU and SSANU branches in the Universities and Inter-University Centres.”

In 2022, two months after ASUU commenced a nationwide strike, both SSANU and NASU also embarked on nationwide industrial action that further crippled activities across the campuses.

The action was to protest the government’s failure to fulfil its promises to the workers and what they described as gross underfunding of the universities.

At the time, the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy and withheld the workers’ salaries.

The National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) also took part in the strike at the time.

SSANU queried the rationale behind the government’s insistence on the “no work, no pay policy,” saying that due process was followed before embarking on the strike that lasted four months. Till the end of his tenure, Mr Buhari never authorised the payment of the workers.

Meanwhile, in October, President Bola Tinubu announced that his government would pay four months of the withheld salaries to members of ASUU. The announcement instantly raised concerns over the fate of the members of the other unions.

The National Vice President of SSANU, Abdussobur Salaam, told newsmen that the directive appeared to be selective in favour of a single union out of others whose members’ salaries were withheld.

He said the president’s directive if not reviewed to include SSANU and other unions could be a recipe for disaster as he threatened another round of strikes if SSANU members’ withheld salaries were not paid alongside that of ASUU.

“The directive appears to be misdirected because all university unions went on strike last year and not ASUU alone. To that extent, that directive cannot be selective in favour of a single union but can only be general,” Mr Salaam said in October.

However, some days ago, the Nigerian government paid four months of the more than seven months’ salaries of the academics, leaving out the non-academic staff.

Following what it described as deliberate neglect of their members to pay their withheld salaries, and the alleged refusal to acknowledge their various letters addressed to the government through the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, both SSANU and NASU threatened to down tools.

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