Fresh round of instability is imminent in the nation’s ivory towers as the three major non-academic unions in the university system have threatened to go on strike following the non-implementation of a pact they had with the Federal Government in 2009.
The three unions, which issued the threat during a joint press conference in Abuja on Saturday, are the Non-Academic Staff Union, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Nigerian Association of Academic Technologists.
The threat to embark on strike is coming barely 48 hours after the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress handed a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to commence the implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wage.
The National Presidents of NASU, SSANU and NAAT, Mrs. Ladi Iliya, Mr. Promise Adewusi and Alhaji Abdulateef Jokomba respectively accused the government of unwillingness to implement the agreement.
Adewusi, who spoke on behalf of the unions, said the Federal Government had not implemented key aspects of the agreement, which hinged on responsibility, excess workload, laboratory and workshop, as well as studio, clinical, and hazard allowances, among others.
The Federal Government, he said, had also not implemented the agreement on the 65-year retirement age for non-academic workers in the universities.
Rather than pass an executive bill on the issue, the last National Assembly, he said, opted to pass an individual member bill, which only harmonised the retirement age of academic staff of polytechnics and colleges of education with their counterparts in the universities without treating the issue of the 65 years retirement age.
He alleged that a 70-year old retirement age was smuggled into the bill to negate the executive bill, which proposed 65 years retirement age for non-academic staff and 70 years retirement age for professors.
He called on President Goodluck Jonathan to withhold his assent on the bill to avert a nationwide strike by the unions.
He warned that the unions would not give any further notice to embark on strike as the industrial action preceding the 2009 agreement was only suspended and not called off.
“For us, government is collectively made up of the executive, legislature and the judicial organs. Our agreement is with the Federal Government of Nigeria. And any subterranean scheme to use an organ of government to subvert the agreement will be maximally resisted.
“We consider it a fundamental breach of our agreements, the non-passage of the bill on 65 years retirement age and the non-implementation of the non-salary components of the agreements as enumerated above.
“If immediate steps are not taken to remedy this breach, our three unions will be forced to resume our suspended strike,” he said.