THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the Federal Government of attempting to turn lecturers to casual workers by paying them half salaries in October.
In a statement on Tuesday, November 8, ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke said the union condemned the ‘pro-rata’ payment to its members and accused the government of an attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers.
ASUU had, on October 14, 2022, called off its eight-month strike after the National Industrial Court ordered the lecturers to resume work.
ASUU, after the meeting, accused the government of attempting to turn University lecturers to casual workers
“The action of the Union was a display of manifest trust in the judiciary and other institutions and organs of government to always put national interest above all other considerations. This we believe, as a union of thinkers, intellectuals, and patriots, will not only aid the process of amicable resolution of the crisis but will also set the tone for smooth industrial relations between Government and Nigerian workers at large,” Osodeke said in the statement.
He, however, said the response of the government, especially its ‘pro-rata’ payment of October salaries, portrayed the lecturers as daily paid workers.
“This is not only an aberration but a contravention of all-known rules of engagement in any contract of employment for academics the world over.
“Paying academics on a pro-rata basis, like casual workers, is unprecedented in the history of university-oriented labour relations and (the union) therefore condemned this attempt to reduce Nigerian scholars to casual workers in its entirety,” the statement said.
The Federal Government had earlier, through the spokesman of the Ministry of Education Olajide Oshundu, explained its reasons for not paying full salaries to the lecturers.
The government said that the pro-rata payment to ASUU members in October is justified, saying the lecturers cannot be paid for work not done.
The statement read, “Following the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria asking ASUU to go back to work, the leadership of the Union wrote to the Minister, informing him that they have suspended the strike.
“The Federal Ministry of Education wrote to him in a similar vein, and our labour inspectors in various states also confirmed that they have resumed work.
“So, the Minister wrote to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, directing that their salaries should be restored.
“They were paid in pro-rata for the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action. Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”
Reacting to the issue of half salaries, the speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Monday, said the House is making arrangements for a N170 billion fund for ASUU in the 2023 budget.
“We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes the sum of one hundred and seventy billion naira (N170,000,000,000.00) to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers.
“The Bill also includes an additional three hundred billion naira (N300,000,000,000.00) in revitalization funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities,” Gbajabiamila said.
Gbajabiamila however noted that the ‘no work, no pay’ policy adopted by the Federal Government during the period of strike was premised on the law.