The Trade Union Congress (TUC), one of Nigeria’s main merged unions, has threatened to launch a solidarity strike with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to force the government to address workers’ concerns and reopen the universities.
In a statement released on Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the TUC accused the Nigerian government of willfully neglecting universities and subjecting workers and students to untold hardship.
It happens a few days after the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) – The TUC’s counterpart has threatened to declare a three-day warning strike in a similar show of solidarity with striking ASUU members.
Similarly, in addition to the declaration by the national leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to disrupt the political party primaries in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the southeast axis of the union has given a nine-day ultimatum to the government to ensure the reopening of universities.
The threat of the TUC
The statement, which was signed by TUC President Quadri Olaleye, urged the government “to immediately resolve any outstanding issues with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) or be ready for any industrial action”.
The statement reads in part; “Congress and its affiliates are unanimous on getting our children back to school, and the government has no excuse for keeping these innocent students and their teachers at home. Congress fears that a government that could raise money to feed children who were home during the COVID-19 heat might not be able to do the same for the education sector now.
The union accused both the education ministers and its labor and employment counterparts, Adamu Adamu and Chirs Ngige respectively, of failing to address the lingering issues, and advised them to resign.
The union further stated; “We strongly condemn the continued disruption of the academic calendar in public institutions and the apathetic attitude of political office holders, who are busy buying nomination forms for N100,000,000 (one hundred million naira) while the economy is on its last legs. They make politics costly to deprive Nigerians of political space consciousness. The height of absurdity is that even politicians in service without a visible project under their belt also buy forms to be president!
“We would like to point out that the reason politicians care less about the fate of Nigerians is that their children go to school and live abroad, what happens in Nigerian public universities is none of their business. Now is the time for organized labor and all well-meaning Nigerians to convince the Federal Government to honor the collective bargaining agreement reached with university teachers. The danger of keeping students at home at a time when the country is facing a serious security problem is quite serious and unacceptable to us. »
The TUC accused unnamed government officials of backing out of negotiations, calling their perceived inability to listen to “the voice of reason, they avoid and walk out of negotiations” ridiculous.
The union urged the government to do everything to “break the deadlock to avoid a situation where Congress could be forced into a sympathy strike”.
“The blatant incompetence of this administration is becoming increasingly worrying, unfortunately there does not appear to be an end in sight, making the country the laughingstock of the committee of nations. The government must engage ASUU without further delay in constructive negotiations to find a lasting solution to their complaints now or prepare for mass action,” the TUC concluded.
NANS Zone F, which includes universities in southeastern Nigeria, also issued a statement on Tuesday announcing a nine-day ultimatum to the government and the striking union to open all public universities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that zonal coordinator Moses Onyia gave the ultimatum in a statement released in Enugu.
The statement, according to NAN, urged the government and ASUU to do the necessary before nine days, adding that failure to do so within or upon the expiration of this ultimatum would leave students only the last resort to take. a drastic measure.
According to the press release, from May 20 to May 25, 2022; After the ultimatum expires, we will take action that “will see Nigerian mining students from the South East in numbers block one of the main entrances to the region – the Niger Bridge.”
The statement reads in part; “We will also block the three airports in the southeast, which include Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu; Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, and Anambra International Passenger and Cargo Airport, Umeri, Anambra.
READ ALSO: No end in sight as ASUU strike enters third month
“Thus, stopping all movement to and from this Southeast axis.
“We hope it doesn’t get to this point, but when we’re pushed to the wall, we’re ready to hold the bull by the horns.”
The union demanded that the government pledge to uphold the oath to protect the interests and welfare of Nigerians and Nigerian students “that they have sworn”.
“We urge all students in the South East to remain law-abiding and peaceful, but remain vigilant and be on the lookout for instructions from its leaders as events unfold. When this becomes unavoidable, the call to action will be issued,” the statement added.
The ASUU on Monday, May 9, extended its three-month-old warning strike for another three months.
ASUU launched a nationwide warning strike on February 14 and continued to expand it to pressure its demands, including the revitalization of public universities, the payment of acquired academic allowances, and the deployment of the University transparency and accountability solution for paying university professors.
Other university worker unions have also since embarked on separate strikes over similar reasons of improving social programs for members, repositioning universities for global relevance, among other reasons.
Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Association of Senior Executives of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Union of Non-Academic Staff of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) met with the Minister on Tuesday. of Education to present him his remuneration and his particular payments at the university. (U3PS) as an alternative to the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of its workers.
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