The Federal Government has released half of November 2022 check-off dues deducted from the salaries of all lecturers of federal universities in the country to the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment withheld the check-off dues of the union.
The ministry’s spokesman, Olajide Oshundun, in an interview said the decision of the government was based on the failure of ASUU to submit its audit reports.
The check-off dues are the money deducted from an employee’s pay for membership in a union or an organisation that represents workers in a particular industry.
The chairperson of ASUU, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof Gbolahan Bolarin, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the government remitted half of the money deducted from the salaries of members.
He said, “After the report by The PUNCH, the union received an alert intimating us of the receipt of the check-off dues. However, what we noticed was that we did not receive full payment. Instead, we received less than what was due.
“The funny aspect is that the government made full deductions from the salaries of our members. Our question now to them is where is the balance of the check-off dues?
“You can’t make full deductions and then remit half of what you deducted into the account of the union. The government needs to let us know what they plan to do with the money still with them.”
Efforts to get the comments of the spokesperson of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Oshundun, proved abortive as calls and messages sent to his line remained unanswered as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, branches of ASUU have concluded congresses organised over the recent happenings between the union and the Federal Government.
Some of the recent happenings include the decision of the government to pay the withheld salaries of lecturers under the aegis of the Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics and threats to deregister ASUU as a trade union.
We gathered that branches commenced their branch meetings on January 18, 2022.
Though most of the branches are yet to make public the decision taken at the meetings, Bolarin noted that his branch resolved that the government must return to the negotiation table to forestall fresh strike in the university system.
Bolarin reveals on Sunday that while ASUU called off its strike on October 14, 2022, in obedience to an Appeal Court ruling in favour of the Federal Government, none of the issues that led to the strike has been addressed by the government.
While faulting the government’s decision to withhold the salaries of lecturers during the period of the strike, the university teacher identified teaching, research and community service as the three legs on which a lecturer’s role in the university stands.
Bolarin said, “The public must be aware that the storm is not over. The ASUU suspended the strike on October 14, 2022, in accordance with the Appeal Court’s ruling. Our members have since gone back to work as law-abiding citizens, despite the financial hardship and mental stress occasioned by the withheld salaries.
“The issues that prompted the strike were the conclusion of the 2009 agreement renegotiation, funding for revitalisation of public universities, payment of the Earned Academic Allowance, the release of the visitation panel report, testing and adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solution, and university proliferation.
“These issues have not been resolved, no agreement has been reached, and no meaningful effort has been made by the government to address them.”
CONUA begs FG
Meanwhile, the leadership of CONUA has appealed to the Federal Government to be magnanimous and pay all university lecturers their eight months withheld salaries.
Though the Federal Government had commenced the process of paying members of CONUA the withheld salaries since they refused to join the strike, the president of the newly-registered union, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, however, appealed that all lecturers should be paid.
Sunmonu spoke on Saturday during CONUA’s maiden National Executive Council meeting held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he was ratified as the pioneer national president.
Maintaining that CONUA did not declare a strike, Sunmonu said, “The only thing we can do at this stage is to appeal to the Federal Government to be magnanimous to pay everybody. But along the line of principle, CONUA did not declare a strike and the no-work-no-pay policy will be unjust to be applied on it.”