The Federal Government (FG) says it has set up a joint committee to address the complaints of non-teaching staff unions of universities as they threaten a nationwide strike on February 5.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said this while addressing reporters at the end of a closed door meeting with the non-teaching staff of federal universities on Tuesday in Abuja.
The non-teaching staff are the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non Academic Staff Union of the Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that a Joint Action Committee on NASU and SSANU threatened a strike on February 5, to press home members’ demands.
Their demands included rectifying inconsistencies in the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), non- payment of arrears of Minimum Wage, delay in renegotiation with government, NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement among others.
According to Mr Ngige, “the FG responded to issues concerning IPPIS and what is being done to assist the non-academic workers in the universities, who have had some complaints in that direction, especially some of their allowances they said are chopped off by IPPIS system”.
“We were satisfied that reasonable progress has been made. It’s a work in progress.
“We have put up a joint committee of the union, representatives of Federal Government from the Ministry of Education, Salary, Wages and Income Commission, Office of Accountant-General and the National Universities Commission to work hand-in-hand.
“This is to make sure that all the anomalies that were complained of are treated and we do hope that it will be done to the satisfaction of everybody.
“The FG also has a committee that is supposed to work to formalise all allowances that have been granted the unions in the university system, so that we will have a kind of uniformity in the system as per allowances.
“The committee will bring its report to us as well as the unions to make their input,” he said.
He said that the issue of autonomy of universities was also discussed, adding that the visitation panel was already in place.Mr Ngige noted that the visitation panel was waiting for the university system to stabilise before its members would go and audit both the administrative and financial system of the universities for 10 years, which is five years each.
“At the instance of the union, they asked that they take back some of the agreements to their members and then come back to us for further discussions on the issues raised.
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‘They are to communicate to us on the possible date for our next meeting in the next 48 hours so that we can get the government agencies needed for the meeting to prepare.
“With this, we are hopeful that we have arrested the impending strike in the spirit of social dialogue which is what the ILO advocated for employee – employer relationship,” he said.
Meanwhile, Peters Adeyemi, NASU’s General Secretary, said that the position of the unions on the February 5, strike ultimatum remained unless the relevant organs gave further directive to the contrary.
He said that the leadership of the two unions agreed to take the issues discussed back to its members for input.
“So far, nothing has been concluded. We don’t have the mandate to talk about suspending the strike. That’s not within our competence.
“The mandate of our members stand until they ask us to reverse it,” he said. (NAN)
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