The Federal Government has been urged by the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) to establish and implement a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 100% in order to raise workers beyond the poverty level. “It therefore means that we are demanding for a 100 per cent increase in the salaries of all NASU members in all the sectors,” the union added.
Additionally, NASU urged the government to adopt tax exemptions for any worker making less than the minimum wage as well as tax breaks for Nigerian workers.
The Federal Government is expected to make arrangements for the payment of salary arrears for the four months that the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) was on strike. The union affirmed that: “Since all parties within the university system have suspended their industrial actions, it behoves the government to start reviewing those hard stances it took while the tertiary institutions were under lock and key.”
The General Secretary of the Union, Prince Peters Adeyemi, stated that a moratorium granted to the Federal Government that expires in November 2022 should serve as a genuine opportunity for government to sit down and start to address the existing demands by the unions, one of which is the salary arrears. He said that during an interactive session with journalists on the sidelines of NASU’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja on Saturday.
Adeyemi emphasized that the government ought not, under any circumstance, brush aside the matter, particularly after making a comparable gesture in response to the National Association of Resident Doctors’ (NARD) two-month strike suspension.
In response to the question of whether the Federal Government was still willing to balance the arrears in accordance with its original stance of “no work, no pay,” Adeyemi said: “now the process of negotiating about unpaid salaries will commence. No one will claim that the schools are closed, so now is the perfect time to start appealing to those who have taken those hard positions. We believe that those hard positions were brought on by the fact that the schools were locked up.
“I have confidence as a union person that those salaries will be paid because it has been paid to the guys in the health sector, two months. The Minister of Labour and Employment facilitated the payment and he is still there, I am confident he will facilitate this payment.”
While supporting Adeyemi’s assertion, Dr. Hassan Makolo, National President of NASU, asserted that, in contrast to popular misconception, members of trade unions do not go on strike in order to appeal to the public. He claimed that because it is done at tremendous expense to their members and the unions, calling a strike is not a decision that unionists take lightly.
He said: “those who think it is easy to go on a strike should think of staying for four, five or more months without a salary or an income and think of what that does to the household of a breadwinner who is taking part in a strike without a salary, in terms of feeding, medicals, transportation, children school fees, aged parents and other relations to cater for, as well as the landlord.
“Moreover, most of the children in public universities and other tertiary institutions are our children; whereas the children of our employers and other government functionaries who are expected to resolve the grievances of unions in the public sector are either studying in universities abroad or are in private universities here at home.”
On the part of the union, the management of the affairs of the union continues, including the management of the strike without check-off dues.
“The actions and inactions of public officials foisted a needless strike on members of NASU in the universities and inter-university centres. The strike would not have started in the first place, if they did what was expected of them.” He continued by saying that institutionalizing collective bargaining will only effectively reduce the frequency of strikes in the educational and related institutions sectors.
This was one of the demands they made to the Federal Government, according to Dr. Hassan, but it was rejected by the Federal Government renegotiating team. He continued by saying that government teams should always go up to the bargaining table in good faith and follow through on any agreements they willingly entered into with NASU.
He said, “Over two months after the agreement signed by the Federal Government with the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU, which resulted in the suspension of the four months old strike, we have observed that the processes expected to be put in place for the actualisation of the content of the agreement are yet to be put in place. We therefore use the opportunity of the ongoing NEC meeting to call on the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to ensure that the processes for the implementation of the agreement commence immediately before the members of NASU will start another round of agitation.
“We hope that some other industrial relations issues within the sector, which the government is aware of will be amicably resolved within a minimum time frame.”