Universities shut as workers begin warning strike

Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union have commenced a five-day warning strike on Monday, following a directive from Joint Action Committee to all branch Chairmen of the unions across the country.

According to a letter, dated August 16, jointly signed by General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peter Adeyemi, and National president of SSANU, Mr Samson Ogoeke, the members were directed to embark on a warning strike on Monday, August 19, 2019.

The leadership of both unions explained that the industrial action, followed the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum, which they gave to Federal Government.

Also, the unions accused the government of lack of commitment toward addressing certain important issues affecting their welfare, including the payment of earned allowances to their members, the reinstatement of the sacked teachers of university staff schools and non-fulfillment of a previous agreement with the government, among others.

As the strike commenced on Monday, all gates leading to University of Ibadan were put under lock and key by the striking workers.

Our correspondent observed that there was no movement to and from the campus, while several vehicles obviously belonging to members of the university’s staff were parked along the UI-Ojoo Road.

Some policemen and their counterparts from Department of State Security had cordoned off the main gate of the university to ward off any breakdown of law and order.

Officials of UI chapters of SSANU and NASU, had mobilised their colleagues for the strike which ultimately paralysed academic and other activities on campus.

Workers stayed away from their duty posts as unions task force teams moved round the campus to ensure full compliance.

Also, motorists plying UI-Ojoo-Mokola-Agbowo had hectic times navigating the huge traffic gridlock caused by the strike.

At University of Benin, Edo State, academic and other activities were also paralysed.  Early in the morning, leaders of the striking unions embarked on picketing to ensure compliance with the strike, as directed from their national headquarters.

The monitoring team set up by NASU was on ground to ensure that offices were not opened and those already opened were shut against businesses.

Chairman of NASU, UNIBEN, Mr Anthony Igbinosa, expressed satisfaction with the way his members were united in what he described as the fight for a common course.

“So far so good, it has been actually successful, we expected our members to comply and they actually did. If you go round the campus, you will see that everywhere is sealed up and this will continue till Friday 23rd of August 2019, until we get directives from the national. So far if we have a hundred, I would rate it ninety-nine percent”

Although some students were seen attending classes at the Ekenwan campus, they complained that the taps in their hostels were dry as NASU members were not on duty to pump water for them.

At the main campus of the university in Ugbowo, only one of the gates was open for vehicles and this created gridlock that spilled onto the Lagos – Benin Road.

Similarly, activities were paralysed at Ekenwan Campus of the University.

Only security men were seen in their duty posts, while many of the other staff were seen relaxing at the school’s staff club.

The situation was not different at Federal University of Technology, Akure, where members of SSANU and NASU shunned their duty posts. The doors leading to offices at the institution’s registry and bursary were firmly under lock and key.

However, academic activities were ongoing as of the time of filing this report. Some of the students confirmed that lecture halls were open and the lectures were being held.

However, while members of both unions  at Federal University, Dutsinma, Katsina State, joined in the strike alongside their counterparts in other institutions across the country, their colleagues at Umaru Musa Yaardua University, Katsina were undecided, whether to participate or not.

At FUDMA, members of the unions stayed away from their offices on Monday in line with the directive to commence the strike. A SSANU member, who pleaded anonymity, said the strike would be observed to the letter.

“The strike, as you know, is a warning strike and I hope the Federal Government will meet our demands and not allow us to go on full strike,” he said.

The opposite was the case at UMYU. Chairman of the institution’s chapter of SSANU, Mr Sahalu Hassan, that members of the two unions in the University would meet today ( Tuesday) to take a decision on whether they would participate in the strike or not.

 He said, “We are aware of the national warning strike but our members here are meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to take a decision on whether we are participating or not.”

Another fall-out from the strike was the suspension of screening for thousands of candidates seeking admission at University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Monday. Many of the admission seekers were stranded at different faculties as the institution’s Non Academic Staff Union joined their colleagues across the country on a nation wide warning strike.

Speaking with our correspondent in Uyo, UNIOYO’s NASU Chairman, Mr Ime Edet, described the warning strike, which is expected to end on Friday, as a prelude to the total strike that would commence soon after the review of the action on Friday.

He disclosed that Federal Government was owing non teaching employees over N30 billion in all Federal Universities in Earned Allowances between 2013 to 2016, adding that the remaining arrears were yet to be computed.

He listed the cumulative debts arising from the earned allowances to include over time, travel allowances and other entitlements, adding “the refusal of Federal Government to listen to the voices of reason has forced NASU at the national level to call members out on this warning strike”.

 

Punch

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