Academic and other official activities were yesterday grounded at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) by protesting members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU).
The aggrieved workers, under the auspices of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising of Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Scientists (NAATS), said they were following the directive of the national body.
Chairman of JAC Comrade Ibeji Nwokeoma said: “The Federal Government gave N23 billion for the payment of earned allowance to all workers of Federal Universities, unfortunately, the money was hijacked by our sister union and they shared it as their spirit moved them, giving over N18 billion to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) alone, leaving a little above N4 billion for three independent staff unions. ASUU hijacked the money at the national level in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education.
“We felt it was wrong and we asked the Federal Government what the sharing formula was, why they could give one union over N18 billion out of the N23 billion. We also want to know the yardstick for the sharing, whether population or the nature of work they do in the university, but till now, the Federal Government has answered us.
“So we are demanding that if what they gave is academic earned allowance as they called it, the government should give us our own fair share of the largesse. They should also give the Non-Academic Staff their own earned allowance because we all work in the university.
“We have been peaceful all these while about the strike but the government has been recalcitrant and that is why we adopted the measure to draw the public’s attention to prevail on the Federal Government to address the issue so that our students will not suffer”.
SSANU Chairman, Comrade Franklin Matheus, said: “We want to inform the public through this action that we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government on issues including shortfall in workers’ salaries, earned allowances and Staff School emoluments, but none has been implemented. We agreed that these earned allowances will be paid before the end of last year, but what the government did was to give ASUU N23 billion and a paltry N4 billion to all the non-academic staff unions. So if the Federal Government can pay N23 billion to ASSU as earned academic allowance, we are demanding N66 billion as our earned allowances.
“We want the government to obey the judgment of the Industrial Court. We can only end this strike if the government addresses the skewed allowance and pay us N66 billion which is the earned allowance for non-academic staffs.”