The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says its meeting with the Federal Government’s representatives on its prolonged strike failed because the government’s team presented “award of a Recommended Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS), prepared by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission” to it.
The Academic Union said in a press statement by its President, Emmanuel Shodeke, on Thursday that the meeting with the Prof Nimi Briggs-led committee on Tuesday ended in a deadlock because the ‘award salary’ was “against the principle of collective bargaining, based on the Wages Boards and Industrial Council’s Decree No 1 of 1973, the Trade Dispute Act (1976), ILO Conventions 49 (1948), 91(1950), 154 (1988) and recommendation 153 (1981), Udoji Commission Report of 1974, and Cookey Commission Report of 1981.”
The report, it noted, “also provided a platform for resolving such important issues as special Salaries and Conditions of Service of University Staff, University Funding, roles of Pro Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, and National Universities Commission (NUC). A key outcome was a special salary scale for university staff known as University Salary Structure (USS).”
Accusing the government of insincerity in its approach to resolving the lingering crisis in the university academic system, the union demanded that “The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, should return to the New Draft Agreement of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Renegotiation Committee whose work spanned a total of five and half years as a demonstration of good faith.”
The union expressed anger that the “award” presented by the Nimi Briggs-led Team came across in a manner of take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper”, noting that: “No serious country in the world treats their scholars this way.”
In the statement tagged: “Why ASUU Rejects Governments Award of Salary”, the union claimed that, “Government imposed the ongoing strike action on ASUU and has encouraged it to linger because of its provocative indifference.”
“The Munzali Jibril-led renegotiation committee submitted the first Draft Agreement in May 2021, but the government’s official response did not come until about one year later! Again, the “Award” presented by the Nimi Briggs-led Team came across as take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper. No serious country in the world treats their scholars this way,” it said.
According to ASUU,” Over the years, particularly since 1992, the Union has always argued for and negotiated a separate salary structure for academics for obvious reasons.”
“ASUU does not accept any awarded salary as was the case in the administration of General Abdulsalam Abubakar. The separate salary structures in all FGN/ASUU Agreements were usually the outcome of Collective Bargaining processes.
“The major reason the Federal Government gave for the miserly offer, paucity of revenue, is not tenable. This is because of several reasons: poor management of the economy. This has given rise to leakages in governments’ revenue at all levels.
“There is wasteful spending, misappropriation of funds and outright stealing of our collective patrimony.
“ASUU believes that if the leakages in the management of the country’s resources are stopped, there will be more than enough to meet the nation’s revenue and expenditure targets without
borrowing and plunging the country into a debt crisis as is the case now,” it said.
While also noting that, “At the commencement of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement on 16th March 2017, both the Federal Government and ASUU Teams agreed to be guided by” some terms of reference; ASUU, however, expressed regret that the former reneged on its side to abide by the agreement.
It warned that the” Government’s surreptitious move to set aside the principle of collective bargaining, which is globally in practice, has the potential of damaging lecturers’ psyche and destroying commitment to the university system”, adding:”This is, no doubt, injurious to Nigeria’s aspiration to become an active player in the global knowledge industry.”