The National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities is set to meet in Abuja today (Monday),
The meeting will be held at the union’s headquarters at the University of Abuja.
Leaders of the union, who spoke on Sunday, said the lecturers would decide whether or not to resume strike following the payment of half salary by the government.
The purpose of the emergency meeting is to discuss the payment of half-salaries to the lecturer
Already, some branches across the country have held a congress to decide on the next steps to take.
The branch at the University of Jos, for instance, resolved that the lecturers stay home pending the payment of withheld salaries by the government; the branch at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University resolved that the 2021-2022 academic session be abolished, and the Gombe State University ASUU resolved that the examination results of students be seized.
A member of the NEC who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Officially, the national body did not tell branches to hold congress, but many of them started calling meetings following the receipt of the amputated salary by the government. We don’t have to go on strike; there are lots of options available.”
When asked about the options available, the member said, “We can decide to stay at home, we can decide to seize results, or we can decide to cancel the session since the government won’t pay the withheld salary and we can’t work for months that we weren’t paid for.”
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), who is the lead counsel to ASUU, in a statement on Sunday, explained why the ‘no work, no pay’ policy could not be applicable to ASUU.
In parts, Falana said, “According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the lecturers were paid in pro rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action.
“The position of the Federal Government is factually faulty and legally misleading. Since the industrial action was called off, the public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021–2022 academic session is not cancelled. Consequently, students are currently taking lectures or writing examinations that were disrupted during the strike of the ASUU. Therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike, the doctrine of “no work, no pay” is totally inapplicable, as students who were not taught during the strike are currently attending lectures and writing examinations.
“Furthermore, it is public knowledge that the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors embarked on a strike that lasted two months last year. The Federal Government dragged the striking doctors to the National Industrial Court, which ordered the NARD to call off the strike. As soon as the strike was called off, President Muhammadu Buhari jettisoned the “no work, no pay” principle and ordered the payment of the salaries for the two months that the strike lasted. On that occasion, the President overruled Dr Chris Ngige in the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector.
“In view of the foregoing, since the Federal Government is mandatorily required to treat all workers equally, the members of ASUU are entitled to be treated like members of the NARD after they had called off their strike. In other words, as members of ASUU and NARD are entitled to equality of rights, obligations, and opportunities before the law, the lecturers should be paid their salaries withheld during the period of the recently suspended 8-month industrial action.”
CONUA’s salaries rectification
Meanwhile, the FG has commenced plans to pay the Congress of University Academics their withheld salaries and rectify the “half salaries” paid to all lecturers under the newly registered union for the month of October 2022,
Sources familiar with the matter made it known to our correspondent on Saturday in Abuja.
The lecturers under CONUA, just like those under ASUU, had their salaries withheld following the invocation of the ‘no work, no pay’ policy by the FG during the height of the ASUU strike.
Though the CONUA coordinator, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, noted that its members were not on strike, the lecturers still had their salaries withheld.
CONUA, a breakaway faction of the Academic Staff of Universities, was registered in October 2022 by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Speaking to our correspondent, a source within the ministry, noted, “The government will pay CONUA their withheld salaries, they wrote and it was proven that they didn’t join the strike. The minister has also approved it. So, yes, they will be paid. As for ASUU, I can’t say at the moment but be rest assured that CONUA members will have their withheld allowances and salaries released.”
Confirming the development, Sunmonu said, “We have been told to start some processes with some ministries and agencies, which we have commenced, and we are following up to ensure that the salaries are paid.”
Defending the government’s decision, Ngige noted in a statement on Saturday that the government decided to pay the lecturers “pro-rata.”
“They were paid in pro rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action. Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied,” Ngige noted.