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Why ASUU, NLC back NASU, SSANU on demands as government appeals against strike –Ajaero

*The Nigeria Labour Congress explains why it is joining the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities in demanding the immediate payment of their withheld salaries

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the University unions continue their seven-day over their withheld salaries, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have expressed support for the ongoing seven-day warning strike by the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).

ConsumerConnect reports the Unions have demanded an “immediate” payment of the withheld salaries of the aggrieved workers.

The two University unions Monday, March 18, 2024, had commenced a seven-day warning strike in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

However, the unions’ national strike has reportedly paralysed academic activities in several Nigerian public universities, including University of Jos, University of Ibadan, just as the SSANU the University of Abuja had blocked the entrance to the gate of the university in compliance with the industrial action.

Reacting to the NASU and SSANU industrial action, Joe Ajaero, President of NLC, in a statement issued Monday contended that there was no credible reason or explanation for withholding those salaries in the first place.

Ajaero stated: “We join our affiliate unions, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational (NASU) and Associated Institutions and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) in demanding the immediate payment of the withheld salaries of their members.”

The President of NLC also complained that the withheld salaries of NASU and SSANU members had plunged them into indescribable hardship.

He further said in the statement: “Much worse, it defies logic to try to subject members of these unions to discriminatory treatment. By so doing government is courting avoidable industrial disputes.

“At a time confidence is being restored to the public universities the least government could do is not engineer another strike.

“The toll on all the parties will be unacceptably high, especially for students and parents who bear the burden of movement on our dangerous roads.”

The Labour Union, therefore, urged the government to expeditiously pay up the outstanding salaries.

According to NLC, authorities should not to take for granted the maturity of the unions.

The unions on Monday, flagged off a seven-day warning strike in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Members of the SSANU at the University of Abuja had blocked the entrance to the gate of the university in compliance with the industrial action.

Labour and Employment Minister appeals to Unions to stop strike

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has appealed to members of NASU and SSANU to call off their seven-day warning strike.

Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment, is calling on the Unions to shelve the strike.

Olajide Oshundun, Spokesperson of the Ministry, in a statement, noted Onyejeocha expressed displeasure over the action of the unions.

The statement also disclosed the Minister described the development as a total disregard for the Federal Government’s concerted effort at addressing their concern in the country’s University system.

She further argued that the Ministry was not even officially notified by the unions of their intention to proceed on a seven-day warning strike.

Onyejeocha affirmed that their action is contrary to the provisions of Section 18 of the Trade Dispute Act in Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment stated: “However, when the Ministry got wind of the intended warning strike, 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 also explained: “Consequently, the Ministry suggested another date, Monday 18th March, for a proper conciliation meeting, believing that on the basis of that discussion, the intended strike would be put on hold pending the outcome of the meeting; but this date was rejected by the unions.

“The Minister has always maintained that strike does not serve any useful purpose and should only be resorted to as a last option after exhausting every conciliation effort.”

Onyejeocha, nonetheless, appealed to the SSANU and NASU “to step back from their hard-line stance and meet the federal government at the table for conciliation.

“The Minister also appeals to all Nigerians to always take steps that are beneficial to the well-being of the country and the citizens.”

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