We got no formal notice of SSANU/NASU’s strike – FG

THE Federal Government has expressed displeasure over the seven-day warning strike by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU).

The government through a statement issued on Monday, March 18,  in Abuja, by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said it received no formal notice on the strike and appealed to the unions to call off the strike and give room for dialogue.

The statement, signed by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Olajide Oshundun, quoted the minister describing the strike as a total disregard for the Federal Government’s concerted effort to address their concern.

The ICIR reported that the Joint Action Committee of SSANU and NASU on Friday, March 15, directed its members to embark on a seven-day warning strike over their withheld salaries.

It urged the unions’ members to adhere strictly to the directive, noting that the developments during the seven days would determine the next call of action.

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The committee had on March 1, threatened to embark on strike over the withheld salaries, raising concerns about the Federal Government’s decision to release four months of similar withheld salaries to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) while refusing to release those of the non-academic staff.

The ICIR reports that the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari withheld ASUU members’ salaries when it invoked a ‘no work, no pay’ policy during an industrial action by the lecturers that lasted eight months, from February 14 to October 14, 2022.

The lecturers subsequently suspended the strike following a court order initiated by the Nigerian government.

Similarly, SSANU and NASU embarked on strike for five months between April and July 2022, to compel the Nigerian government to meet its demands as ASUU.

The Buhari government also invoked the ‘no work, no pay’ policy on the striking non-teaching university workers as their ASUU counterparts.

However, in October 2023, President Bola Tinubu pledged to pay four of ASUU’s withheld eight months’ salaries, with the union confirming the commencement of the payment in February.

The Tinubu government has been mum on the SSANU and NASU’s fate, prompting the unions to begin a seven-day warning strike on Monday, March 18.

Reacting to the strike in a statement, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha called on the leadership of the two unions to shelve the action.

According to her, the ministry was not officially notified by the unions of their intention to proceed on the warning strike.




     

     

    “This is contrary to the provisions of section 18 of the Trade Dispute Act. The ministry got wind of the intended warning strike and it reached out to the leadership of the unions for an emergency meeting in order to avert the strike.

    “Unfortunately, a physical meeting could not be arranged between the unions and the Federal Government, but a tele-discussion took place between their leadership and the ministry,” she said.

    Onyejeocha also said that the ministry consequently suggested another date – Monday, March 18 – for a proper conciliation meeting, adding that she had hoped that the intended strike would be put on hold pending the outcome of the meeting but the date was rejected by the unions.

    The minister, however, maintained that the strike did not serve any useful purpose and should only be resorted to as a last option after exhausting every conciliation effort.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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