There are indications that unions in the university may rise up against the Federal Government over the alleged exclusion of their members in the 40 per cent pay rise for peculiar allowance and arrears.
The Federal Government has recently commenced payment of the approved 40 percent increase for civil servants in the federal ministries, agencies and departments under the Consolidated Public Salary Structure.
But workers in the university sector have kicked against their exclusion, describing the action of the government as a recipe for crisis.
But the Federal Government has said that there is no cause for alarm as the university workers are captured in the pay rise.
The government also said that it was waiting for the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU to conclude its negotiation on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, on the condition of service with its employer, the Ministry of Education so that it would be transmitted to the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.
Speaking to Vanguard on Monday, the President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, said that the idea of denying university workers the salary increment is an invitation to crisis in the university sector..
Comrade Ibrahim accused the government of abandoning the agreement it entered into with the university unions, alleging that the N50 billion Earned Allowances the government promised to include in the 2023 budget has not seen the light of the day as workers were yet to receive any payment on that.
According to him, “This idea of denying university workers the salary increment is only a recipe for crisis in the education sector. Because government had promised two years ago that they were going to review the salaries putting in the re-negotiation committee and re-negotiations never got concluded.
“We have even lost the chairman of the re-negotiation committee. In the last one year we have not heard anything from the government and it is like everything has been halted.
“So if they were people who know what they want and I truly they were interested in developing the manpower of this country and having interest in the education sector, they should have considered making reality those promises they have made.
“There Is this N50 billion Earned Allowances which they said that have put in the 2023 budget, it has not seem the light of the day. There is a proposal for salary increment which they made and which has not also seen the light of the day.
“And now from nowhere we just heard that 40 per cent perculiar allowance has been given to the core civil servants, we are not averse to making lives of civil servants better by giving them any allowance but that the services being offered by the university workers. There won’t be any good civil servant, there won’t be any productive civil servants if the universities are not productive, if the university staff are not properly renumerated because you will be churning out half baked graduates and nobody will have any interest in employing any Nigerian graduate again.
“So the idea of excluding university workers from this salary enhancement is a recipe for disaster in the education sector. This is my position as SSANU President.
“And I want to call in the government to immediately without much delay release the N50 billion Earned Allowances and also implement the salary increment which we have been talking with them in the last two years.
“Meanwhile our organs will meet and take the necessary actions. I mean we will take the decisions that will be comnunicated to the public. But we are not happy with the government, we are not happy at all with the way they are handling the affairs of the university workers..”
However, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said that the university workers were not excluded in the pay rise, explaining that the delay in paying them was due to the inability of ASUU to conclude negotiations with its employer.
He said, “Because they (ASUU) have not concluded their Collective Bargaining with their employers, the ministry of Education. If you remember there was the Prof. (Nimi) Briggs Comnittee and that Briggs Committee reached conclusion with NAAT, SSANU and NASU.
“But there were certain observations made on the conclusion they reached with because ASUU never came for them to reach any conclusion with them. So, there were certain observations that were pointed out to education. So they will now go back to education and revalidate a new CBA and transmit immediately to salaries, income and wages. And salaries, income and wages will work on it urgently as a new CBA for condition of service and transmit to the presidential committee on salaries. We expect all this will be done within the next fortnight.”
Asked whether the commencement date to pay the 40 per cent pay rise for University workers will also be January, he responded in the affirmative.
He said, “It will commence from January because it has been captured in the 2023 budget with the present national assembly. The same will go with ASUU whenever they come back to education and accept whatever education has offered them, it will also go to salaries, income and wages commission for transmission to the presidential committee on salaries, that’s the route.
“So these other people that got their 40 per cent have been negotiating since two years or more. The Association of Senior Civil Servants, the National Civil Service Union and other related joint negotiating councils of those people, they have been negotiating. So, the 40 per cent they got took into account that they have not been having any increases with allowances before. So, it was all that the national salaries, income and wages calculated and aggregated it to 40 per cent as a peculiar allowance.
“Mark you, it is not only on salaries, it also includes their allowances. It is the entire wage structure, component of their wage, monthly wage, and annual wage that have been computed into that. Same is being done for NASU, SSANU and others.
“This time around we except CONUA and NAMDA to go into CBA for their own members”
On the complaint by SSANU that the N50 billion Earned Allowances, captured in the i2023 has not been released to them, he said: “This is what I am telling you. Even their condition of service review and everything have been captured in the 2023 budget. Not only them, the educational sector including ASUU and their allowances. These allowances are even being doubled
“There is no promise to SSANU separately, we are dealing with University unions comprehensively. It is combined. The money is more than N50 billion dedicated to the education sector. Everything has its own components, it’s more than N50 billion. For the educational sector including the Polytechnics and everybody, I think it is up to N350 billion captured in 2023 budget.”
Asked why the the money has not been released yet, Senator Ngige said, “You do one line one step. This is a fall-out of an industrial action, so we are tidying it up now starting with their condition of service of which their wage is first thing first. So it is when you do your wages that you now do extra allowances.” (Vanguard)