The Congress of University Academics has expressed its disappointment with the Federal Government, especially the Ministry of Labour and Employment, over the non-payment of its members’ withheld salaries “even when the government knew that the union did not call for strike action and its members were not involved in the strike action that lasted for eight months and which shut down the university system nationwide.”
CONUA, in a statement on Tuesday, signed by its National President, Secretary and Publicity Secretary, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, Dr Henry Oripeloye and Dr Ernest Nwoke, respectively, said it was wrong for the FG to lump CONUA with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities who went on eight months strike between February and October, 2022.
The new union of lecturers thereby viewed to sue FG for withholding its members’ salaries.
The statement partly read, “CONUA formally made its non-involvement in the strike known to the Federal Government in a letter addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, in April 2022.
“In the letter, we made it clear that because CONUA constituted a separate and independent union in the university system, our members did not call for any strike. This was followed by a Press Conference in Abuja on August 19, 2022 at which it was categorically stated that CONUA was not part of any ongoing strike, and that the “No Work No Pay” principle ought not to apply to members of the union.
“CONUA’s expectation is that, due to the express and categorical declaration, the government would seamlessly release our members’ outstanding salaries when it resumed the payment of salaries to all university staff in October 2022. But to our dismay, CONUA members were also paid pro-rata salaries in complete disregard to the fact that we were indeed shut out of duties by the strike.
“Subsequently, we wrote to the Accountant-General of the Federatıon and the Ministry of Labour and Employment reminding them that it was an error to lump our members with those that declared and embarked on strike action. It was yet another shock for the outstanding backlog of salaries not to have been paid to our members along with the November 2022 salary.”
CONUA said the non-payment of “our withheld salaries” contravenes Section 43 (1b) of the Trade Disputes Act CAP. T8, which stated that “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remunerations for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment.”
“This provision is consistent with global best practices,” it added.
“From the foregoing and as a law-abiding union that pledged to do things differently, we have resolved to seek legal redress of the illegal withholding of our legitimate salaries by taking the matter to court in consonance with the rights enshrined in our laws,” the union said.
Ozara Union USA (OUUSA) Rebuilds Ultramodern Examination Hall For Community
- The Ozara Union USA (OUUSA) has renovated and handed over an Ultramodern Examination Hall to Ozalla High School in Nkanu West Local government in Enugu state.
The OUUSA consist of sons of Ozalla in the United States Of America who came back home to execute the project as a way of giving back development to their community especially in the education sector.
Also, Frank Nweke Jr, the All Progressives Grand Alliance Gubernatorial Candidate for Enugu, who also hails from Ozalla unveiled the modern examination hall while eschewing the students of Ozalla High School to note the sacrifices being made for their future.
The APGA state flag bearer noted during the official opening of the newly renovated exam hall at Ozalla High School, delivered by Ozalla Union USA on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, that the original land was given up by several individuals for the school to be built.
The hall is to serve as a learning center and a more conducive environment for students taking key examinations in the community.
While thanking the private citizens for their efforts to ensure that the community had respite in different aspects of their lives, he also reiterated that education was a priority for his administration when elected as the Governor of Enugu State. He stated that he would be working closely with local governments and private citizens to ensure the best education for all children.
Nweke encouraged the teachers to remain committed to their roles as shapers of the future and the children to make studying their priority.
Also at the event were the President General of Ozara Union, USA, Chief Emeka Nnaji, past President Generals of Ozara Union, USA, Chief Larry Okoh, Chief Izu Oyeani, Prof Okwi Igwe and the President General of Ozalla Development Union, Barr. CNN Nwabara amongst others.
NANS Writes Akeredolu Over Administration Irregularities And Students Neglect
The National Association of Nigeria Students (Joint Campus Council), Ondo axis has written to the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, over the untold hardship faced by students in the state.
The NANS JCC (Ondo) said students were being painfully marginalised, bitterly ignored and sidelined from governance and the dividends of good governance which has in turn invited untold hardship upon the students and severed the relationship between the students and the state government.
In a statement dated Monday, December 6, 2022, addressed to the governor and signed by the chairman, Omotoso Surprise Oluwaferanmi, and co-signed by General secretary, Akinola Elijah Temitope; Public Relations Officer, Ogunjimi Tolulope James and other school chapter presidents, titled, ‘Open Letter To Governor Rotimi Akeredolu,’ it partly read, “The need for this open letter was borne out of the plight and sufferings of Nigerian students in Ondo State. Nigerian students in Ondo State have been painfully marginalised, bitterly ignored and sidelined from governance and the dividends of good governance which has in turn invited untold hardship upon the students.
“The level of neglect the entire students community has received from the Akeredolu-led government is sardonic, shambolic and painful because we believe that Nigerian students deserve no such punishment from the present-day government of Ondo State.
“The current administration of Gov. Rotimi Odunayo Akeredolu has created a huge gap between the students and the government due to total neglect of the students’ constituency.
“The inability of Ondo State Government to provide infrastructural development in the State tertiary institutions has totally severed the relationship between the students and the Governor, H.E Akeredolu Odunayo Rotimi. The students fear the Governor might have little passion for the future of the State and the country at large.
“Over the years, the education budget of the state is at an all-time low as a result of lack of funding for the education sector. The level of insecurity of lives and properties of the students around the campus and its environs has been disheartening and at a high level. Nigerian students now study in fear amidst the rushed, packed education calendar due to the just suspended 8-month industrial strike of ASUU.
“Ever since assumption into office, the government of the day has not deemed it fit to project quality tertiary education as the education budget has been lowered to an all-time minimum. This has led to the gradual decay of tertiary education in Ondo.
“The only tertiary institution in the southern part of the State has been degraded to ruins and rot. Whilst Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, a State-owned institution has been dealing with issues ranging from the congestion of lecture rooms, no lecture theatre, no residential hostel, no sports facility, no electricity, the poor state of electricity amongst other issues which has engulfed the development of the institution,” the statement added.
Addressing the benefits the student populace enjoyed in the past, the union leaders said their erstwhile leaders were fully employed by the government of the day and this help them solidify their interest in getting better in societal politics.
The student leaders also mull the government’s inability to provide ‘Aluta Shuttles’ for their easy mobility, which they said has hindered prompt response to students’ distress calls both in towns and campuses by the leadership of the Unions.
“After exhausting the first C (consultation) in the Aluta struggle which has now failed, we are currently on the second C (consolidation) and would not hesitate to execute the last C (confrontation) if there are no productive responses and our demands met which is the essence of this open letter to call the attention of the Governor to many irregularities going on and seek for a remedy,” they maintained.
They further appeal to Akeredolu to come to the aid of Nigerian students and hear their cries and agonies.
Half-Salary: “University Lecturers Cannot Be Paid For Work Not Done” – FG
The Federal Government has explained the rationale behind the payment of half salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14. Following a series of discussions with the government, coupled with a court order, the university lecturers ended the eight-month-old strike and returned to their classrooms on October 14.
However, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had vowed to invoke the no work, no pay on the aggrieved lecturers who had pressed home for a better welfare package for their members.
True to the government’s stance, ASUU members were paid half salaries for October, a situation that drew criticism from both the varsity teachers and the newly registered Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA).
In a statement, the Federal Government said ASUU members were paid their October salary pro-rata, noting that they cannot be paid for work not done.
Spokesman of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, also dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.
“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,” the statement partly read.
“Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”
According to him, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, never directed the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the university lecturers half their salary.
The ministry equally faulted a statement by the Chairperson of ASUU, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) branch, Muhammad Al-Mustapha, accusing Ngige of biased payment of salaries to selected professional members of the union.
Oshundun added, “Following the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), asking ASUU to go back to work, the leadership of the union wrote to the Minister, informing him that they have suspended the strike.
“The Federal Ministry of Education wrote to him in a similar vein and our labour inspectors in various states also confirmed that they have resumed work.”