Withheld Salaries: Varsity Workers Protest FG’s Selective Payment Plan

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National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has condemned the federal government plan to pay only members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) the withheld salaries, while excluding members of NAAT and two other university-based unions.

In a statement signed by its president, Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, and general-secretary, Comrade Abubakar Yusuf, the union said the government’s action was unfair, unjust, and a recipe for industrial crisis in the universities.
The union said it was informed that the government directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to effect the payment of the withheld salaries to only ASUU members, contrary to the pronouncement of the minister of education, Professor Tahir Mamman, at a high-level stakeholders meeting held on January 11, 2024.

The union said the minister had stated that all arrangements were concluded by the government on the payment of withheld salaries to all members of university-based unions in federal universities and the implementation of the new salary structure of 25 percent and 35 percent salary increase for all workers in tertiary institutions.
NAAT said it found it difficult to reconcile the minister’s statement with the action of the government to pay only ASUU members the withheld salaries, which it said was creating a charged atmosphere and a recipe for total disruption of academic activities in the campuses.
The workers also drew the attention of the minister to the current economic hardship being experienced by Nigerians, including its members, occasioned by the removal of petroleum subsidy, which it said had made life unbearable due to the high cost of living and the erosion of the purchasing power of the currency.

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The union said the persistent failure of the government to honour and implement agreements freely entered through collective bargaining was what led the unions in the university sector to embark on the strike action in the first place.
Nwokoma added that the laboratory, workshop and studio work lost during the strike had been covered by academic technologists as students had since graduated and some completed the mandatory National Youth Service programme.

The union therefore strongly appealed to the minister to look at the plight of its members and expeditiously pay the over five-month withheld salaries, implement the 25 percent and 35 percent approved salary increase with arrears and release the arrears of earned allowances of NAAT members as contained in the MoU signed between NAAT and the government.

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