Strike: FG Dangles New Offers On ASUU

Ngige, Ogunyemi straightnews
Ngige, Ogunyemi

After months-old industrial action, the Nigerian Government is dangling new offers to university workers to ensure both teaching and non-teaching staffers return to work.

The government has agreed to exempt the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, pending when the university lecturers will complete the development of its own payment platform- the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS.

Besides, government agreed to ASUU’s demand to pay their members’ salary arrears from February to June through the old salary payment platform – the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System, GIFMIS.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige made the new offers after a seven-hour meeting between the government team and the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, at the Ministry of Labour headquarters, Abuja on Friday.

Giving a breakdown of the N65 billion, Senator Ngige said the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, has offered to release N40 billion or in the alternative, N35 billion to be shared by all the registered trade unions in the universities after providing necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.

The Federal Government on Friday agreed to exempt the Academic Staff Union of Universities from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System pending when the university lecturers will complete the development of its own payment platform- the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

The government also agreed to ASUU’s demand to pay their members’ salary arrears from February to June through the old salary payment platform – the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System.

After weeks of negotiations and foot – dragging, the government offered to raise the Earned Academic Allowances to university staff from N30 billion to N35 billion and the revitalisation fund from N20 billion to N25 billion.

Cumulatively, the government, through the Accountant – General of the Federation, offered the lectures N65 billion to call off their eight – month old strike. The government also shifted grounds on a number of issues, including the insistence that all the academic staff of the federal universities must be paid through the IPPIS platform.

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who read out the communique at the end of a seven-hour negotiation with ASUU members in Abuja, the funds will be shared by all the registered Trade Unions in the universities after providing necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.

Responding to the demand for immediate payment of 50 percent of the initial amount allotted for revitalisation which translates to N110 billion, Ngige said it was not possible because of paucity of funds.

He said, “The government however, offered to pay N25 billion based on the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 7th February, 2019 signed with ASUU or in the alternative, urged ASUU to accept N30 billion with the reduction in the earlier Earned Allowances. Between the revitalisation and earned allowances, the FG has offered a cumulative sum of N65 billion.”

According to him, “The Federal Government reiterated that her offer of N40 billion or N35 billion whichever is accepted by ASUU was for all the universities unions: ASUU had proposed that N40 billion be paid immediately for all unions.”

The Minister directed Vice Chancellors to submit details of the Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances to the National Universities Commission, NUC, on or before November 30.

On the issue of withheld salaries, Ngige said the federal ministry of labour and Federal Ministry of Education will review the issue of ‘no work, no pay’ as stipulated in section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap T8 laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 with a view to getting approval for the withheld salaries to be paid.

He said the lecturers will also be paid on the old platform pending the time. “We are also reviewing how the lecturers will be paid on the old platform (Government Integrated Financial Management Information System) until UTAS is ready for usage,” he said.

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Responding, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the National president of ASUU, said ASUU will take the new offers to its members, said, “We will give the government our response by next week after discussing with our members.”

Recall that ASUU had demanded N110 billion for revitalisation which should be paid in tranches.

The university teachers had also insisted that the N30 billion the government promised to release for Earned Allowances was only for their members.

However, the government said that the money was for the four university based unions, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.