VARSITY STRIKE: FG, ASUU meet tomorrow, to resolve lingering issues
The Federal goverment and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will meet tomorrow, Friday to iron out issues relating to the allegations raised by the lecturers regarding non-implementation of their agreement with the government last December.
Confirming the meeting date to our correspondent via telephone interview on Wednesday, ASUU president, Professor Emmanuel Osodake said, the meeting was at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and was scheduled to hold at the Ministry’s conference room in Abuja.
He said: “We have met with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and promised to reach out to us. He has called us for a meeting on Friday.”
Osodake said the union has not issued any strike threat but what it did was to put the federal government on notice for it to ensure the implementation of the agreement signed with ASUU before national executive committee meeting of the union coming up in August.
Speaking on some of the key areas that government has not attended, Osodake said, “The key areas include, the issue of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and payment of salaries of lecturers through the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), non payment of outstanding salaries of the lecturers, payment of second tranche of the Earned Academic Allowance and the issue of renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.”
He said that by the agreement, the government was supposed to have cleared outstanding salaries of ASUU members running into 15 to 16 months.
The salaries accumulated during the last nationwide strike action, when the federal government was forced to implement the no-work, no-pay rule.
The order was however cancelled by President Muhammadu Buhari as a measure of goodwill to get ASUU to suspend its six month old Industrial action.
Osodake also said goverment has defaulted in the payment of arrears of Earned Academic Allowance by not releasing fund for the second tranche due in May this year.
He further complained that his members have been subjected to excessive deductions in the name taxes, thus leaving most of them with half of their original salary.
When asked to give update on the progress made on UTAS, which has been undergoing trials and evaluation by the Accountant Generals Office and the Nigerial Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Osodake said the payment App was referred to NITDA since January this year and since the agency had failed to respond to its enquires as to what was the outcome of its assessment.
Reacting also to a statement by the Public Relations Officer of the Federal Ministry of Education that UTAS being proposed by ASUU did not factor in means of tax deduction from the salaries of the university teachers, Osodake described it as unfounded.
“I think the officer, who made that statement was exhibiting ignorance or was out to cause confusion. If you talk to the Ministers of Education and Labour and other key stakeholders including the Senate President and the Accountant General, they will tell you that UTAS has been duly presented to them and that it has met all the requirements for use in making payments in the universities,” he said.