The Federal Government has assured the striking non-academic staff of its readineess to fulfil its part of the 2009 Agreement.
The staff, under the umbrella body Joint Action Committee (JAC) embarked on a 5-day warning strike with a view to elongating it if their demands are not met.
The JAC is made up of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), Non – Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
Speaking on behalf of the government, Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, asked that the workers return to work and allow for propr dialogue. He pointed out the loss accrued in terms of man-hours due to the ongoing industrial action. A loss that cannot be recouped.
Though they have just cause for the industrial action, Ngige told the members that due process, as laid down by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
He said a “formal meeting where these issues will be discussed as par social dialogue as recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), did not take place.” however, it is a forgivable oversight.
Ngige said the issues in contention were not different from those of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), adding that the government was handling the issues holistically.
The minister assured the members saying “I want to assure you that I have no doubt that after we have discussed the issue in contention; you will find that it is very necessary for you to suspend the strike as the issues raised by your unions are being addressed.”
Mr Sani Suleman, Acting Chairman of JAC said that the strike was unavoidable as their letters to the Ministry of Education was neither acknowledged or replied to.
“The last one we wrote was on Dec. 8. We gave 35-day ultimatum so as to allow them to have enough time and even call us for a meeting but to no avail.
“So, after consultation with our principals, we decided to express our displeasure to government by declaring a five-day warning strike.”
The striking workers also complained about the budgetary allocation to Education claiming that it is dropping and no where near the UNICEF standard.
Other issues raised by the unions are poor governance and administrative lapses in the university system, poor funding of universities, shortfall in payment of staff salaries and increasing corruption in the university system.
Also listed were inadequate physical infrastructure and abandoned projects, lack of adequate teaching and learning facilities and the non-payment of Earned Allowances being product of the 2009 Agreement, among others.
Mr Peters Adeyemi, Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said the strike declared by the unions was to draw government’s attention to issues in the university system.
He stated the unions readiness to work hand in hand with the government to permanently resolve issues.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), also at the meeting were representatives of Ministry of Education and National Universities Commission.