ASUU: Arbitrary, Misery Pay Rise Won’t Bring Us Back to Work

The salary increment offered by the federal government in a bid to resolve the industrial disharmony in the nation’s public universities may not achieve the desired result as the university teachers have described at as “arbitrary and misery”.

The rejection of the new salary increase awarded by the government was revealed in a statement issued yesterday by the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike(MOUAU), Abia State, stating that government repudiated a collective bargaining agreement.

This was just as ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who featured on ‘The Morning Show,’ on Arise News Channels, yesterday, labeled state universities that have resumed lectures nationwide as quacks and are irrelevant to the fight and mission of ASUU. Osodeke also rejected a proposed N10, 000 per session levy by the National Parent-Teacher Association (NAPTAN) which would require each parent to assist the federal government in making more funds available for universities.

However, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), one of the university-based trade unions has suspended its nationwide strike.

National President, NAAT, Ibeji Nwokoma, made this known while addressing newsmen after the National Executive Council meeting of the union held in Abuja, yesterday.

At the August 16, 2022 meeting of the Federal Government/ASUU Renegotiation committee chaired by Prof. Nimi-Briggs government had presented a Recommended Consolidated Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS).
Under the new salary regime said to have been prepared by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) government had awarded increments of 35 per cent and 25 per cent of current salaries to professors at bar and other ranks respectively.

But in the statement signed by the Chairman of ASUU-MOUAU, Michael Ugwuene and Secretary, Paul Nwiyi the union kicked against the pay rise because of the process government followed to arrive at the increment.

“The crux of this matter is that the award is unilateral and a total breach of the provisions of all national and international legislations on which the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is based.

“The renegotiation process is expected to have inputs of both government and ASUU teams as required by Trade Dispute Act of 1976; ILO Conventions 49 of 1948, 91 of 1950, 154 of 1988, and Recommendation 153 of 1981,” the Union leaders said.

Delving into the history of the matter, ASUU-MOUAU pointed out that past salary increases in Nigeria were products of collective bargaining and not unilateralism. It cited the Udoji Commission Report of 1974; and the Cookey Commission Report of 1981 for the resolution of issues of Salaries and Conditions of Service of University Staff and funding, etc.

“A negotiated salary, needless to say, affords industrial harmony because the worker has made an input. A negotiated salary is a right, an awarded salary is potentially arbitrary and is just that: an award,” the union added.

The academics also stated that the awarded salary on offer fell far short of high ranking public servants in the military and the judiciary take home at the end of every month.

“For comparison, this award places the salary of professor at bar on a level slightly higher than that of a Major, but much lower than that of a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Nigerian Army, while it is infinitesimal, in comparison with the current approved and much publicised monthly salary of N10,000,000.00 for the Chief Judge of the Federation,” the statement added.

Aside salary, ASUU noted that government was yet to address any of the issues that led to the ongoing strike, adding that even the N170 billion government promised for Revitalisation, has been “curiously shifted” to 2023 Budget.

The ASUU-MOUAU therefore urged the public “to appeal to government to be alive to their responsibilities and to quickly re-commence and conclude the current re-negotiation, to enable our students go back to campuses”

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