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– begs ASUU to suspend strike

By O.V Collins

After 99days of a total and comprehensive industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and days of disappointing halt in academic activities in tertiary institutions across the nation, the Federal Government Tuesday said it would spend about N34 billion on the ongoing payment of minimum wage consequential adjustments to workers in the education sector with effect from 2019.

The beneficiaries of this payment are members of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and their compeer in the polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

This was revealed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige while responding to questions from labour correspondents in Abuja on the ASUU strike which has now become prolonged.

According to the minister, the N34billion would be split among the various educational bodies with universities getting N23.5 billion, while the polytechnics will receive N6 billion and the Colleges of Education receives N4 billion.

Commenting on the ASUU strike, Ngige stated the committees set up during the last tripartite and meeting between the Federal Government and tertiary Institution-based unions were given 14-days to submit their report and they are still on the task which are expected to produce results this weekend.

“Those committees are working. The one on NITDA is testing the three platforms, the government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the ASUU University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and the Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (U3PS) of the non-teaching staff”, Ngige said.

“They started the testing last Thursday. The National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission (NSWIC) has issued their amendment circulars. The unions also have copies to take care of responsibility and hazard allowances wherever it has not been properly captured,” He added.

He confirmed that there may be likely wage adjustments as the federal government augments efforts to streamline wages through the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.

In addition, he stated, “We have done police for example. It wasn’t envisaged that we should do it in pockets. But you can see that police has been done. You can also see university teachers saying that their own should be done immediately, since we have done police.

“So, something is being done. It was part of the 2009 negotiation they had with the government then. So, the committee of Prof. Briggs is on it, discussing with the university unions and their employer, the Federal Ministry of Education. They will bring up something for government to see.

“There are other people. The doctors are complaining about brain drain, this and that. Their hazard allowance has to be touched and it was touched by close to 300 percent. From N5000 paid across board for each person, the least person in the health sector is getting N15000 while the big ones are getting N45000. So, that is the quantum leap.”

Finally, the minister reiterated his appeal to ASUU and other tertiary Institution-based unions to suspend their strike to enable academic activities resume once again in tertiary institutions across the Nation.

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