The Non-academic staff Unions of the University of Ilorin, on Tuesday, joined their counterparts in the nation’s public universities to protest the failure of the Federal Government to honour the agreements it signed with them on various demands bordering on welfare.
The non-academic staff made up the Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU).
JAC had directed its members in public universities to stage three days protests, on campuses prelude to strike action.
This action was coming barely weeks after ASUU halted its industrial action that had confined students to their homes for nine months
Mr Oyedepo Joseph, Chairman, Unilorin branch of SSANU, who addressed newsmen in Ilorin, explained that the government had failed to honour the agreements it entered into with the unions.
He noted that out of the N40 billion earned allowances the government released recently, N30 billion was allotted to ASUU while the remaining N10 billion was given to the other unions, describing it as unacceptable.
“We have tried a lot. Last year October, we embarked on strike and the government asked us to tell our members to resume work, which we did.
“They said they will answer us before 30th of November. Up till now, we have not received any of those agreements promised by the federal government to our members.
“The issue of minimum wage arrears is there. It is long overdue,” he said.
Also speaking, the NASU Chairman in the university, Mr Suberu Ibrahim, said the enrolment university staff in the government-inspired Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) had resulted in several members not receiving salaries for the past 11 months.
He warned that the available option for the government was to honour the agreements with the unions, to avert industrial dispute in the nation’s universities.
“You will recall that sometime in October last year, the non-teaching staff comprising of SSANU and NASU went on 14 days strike demanding for our welfare to be enhanced.
“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was entered into by the federal government and the unions at the national level,” he added.
He stated that before the IPPIS, their workers were entitled to several allowances and when IPPIS came, the allowances were struck off, while the national tax was even increased from 50 percent to 100 percent.
“The National Housing Fund was mandated on us. And you know the condition of the country now with the way everything is rising.
“So, it is on this basis and coupled with others that we have been making our demands. We have been demanding for our minimum wage arrears, nothing was given to us up till now.
“We are talking about earned allowances, government made a promise. When we went on three months strike last year, they promised to give us about N30 billion. But nothing came,” he said.
Ibrahim added that the government promised that the N40 billion for ASUU was for all the university workers, but lamentably after making the promise, the government declared that 75 percent of the money was for ASUU and 25 percent for NASU.
“We are not making rivalry with ASUU, but demanding for our own right. And what is good for the gander is good for the goose, because we are all university workers.
“We are embarking on this protest for three days and if government fail to yield to our calls, then we will go to Abuja for protest. And if eventually nothing is done, we will be forced to embark on national strike,” he said.
Ibrahim said their association would embark on industrial action in the event that the government failed to act on their demands after the protests.
Members of the protesting unions brandished placards bearing such inscriptions as “Release our N30b earned allowance now”, “Pay us our minimum wage arrears” and “Stop usurpation of headships of non-teaching units by teaching staff” among others.