Withheld salaries: SSANU, NASU begin nationwide strike today

THE Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) have begun a seven-day warning strike over their withheld salaries.

The strike was declared by the unions’ Joint Action Committee (JAC), according to a memo dated Friday, March 15, which directed members to withdraw their services across the nation’s public universities.

Co-signed by the National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, and the General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, the memo urged the unions’ branch leaders to ensure total compliance with the directive.

The ICIR reported that the committee had on March 1, threatened to embark on strike over the withheld salaries.

It raised 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 committee said the reactions from the members of the two unions indicated that they would no longer guarantee industrial peace in the nation’s public universities.

The ICIR reports that strike of this nature, whether by academic or non-academic staff, often disrupts teachings in the universities.

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Part of the memo reads: “The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU has inundated the Federal Government with the need to pay the withheld four months’ salaries of our members in the federal universities and inter-university centres as done for our academic counterparts to no avail.

“As a matter of fact, the attention of Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to the President, and Prof. Tahir Mamman, SAN, OON, the Honourable Minister of Education, were called to this injustice and unfair treatment of our members in our letter referenced JAC/NS/VOL.II/277 dated 13th February, 2024 and to also inform them to resolve the issue positively before it leads to unnecessary upheaval in our university sector.

“In a similar vein, a press release was issued on 1st March 2024 and the Federal Government was given a seven-day ultimatum to do the needful in respect of the payment of the withheld four months’ salaries but nothing was done on same.”

The committee consequently directed SSANU and NASU members in the universities and inter-university centres throughout the country to commence a seven-day warning strike effective Monday, March 18, in the first instance.

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

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 at the time.






     

     

    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 suspend work for the initial period of seven days.

    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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