28th August, 2022
By Leonard Okachie
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia has described the Federal Government’s Consolidated Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) as “unilateral”, hence unacceptable.
This is contained in a statement jointly issued by the Chairman and Secretary of the union, Michael Ugwuene and Paul Nwiyi, on Saturday.
The statement is entitled, “Failure of Government: Collective Bargaining Agreement is the Way Forward.”
It stated that CONUASS awarded increases of 35 per cent and 25 per cent of current salaries to professors at the bar and other ranks, respectively.
It argued that the review was prepared by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and presented to the Prof. Nimi-Briggs-led FG/ASUU Renegotiation Committee without input from ASUU.
According to the group, “the crux of this matter is that the award is unilateral and a total breach of the provisions of all national and international legislation on which the Collective Bargaining Agreement is based.”
It stated that the renegotiation process ought to have input from both government and ASUU teams as required by the Trade Dispute Act of 1976; ILO Conventions 49 of 1948, amongst others.
“A negotiated salary, needless to say, affords industrial harmony because the worker has made an input. A negotiated salary is a right, an awarded salary is potentially arbitrary and is just that: an award,” the statement added.
It further stated that none of the issues that precipitated the six-month-old strike, including salary, had been squarely addressed.
“Not even the issues that have no financial implications, like a commitment to adopt UTAS and the release of the Visitation Panel White Paper to the respective universities,” it added.
However, the group frowned at the committee’s resolve to push the payment of the earned academic allowances to the individual universities.
It further expressed concern that rather than apply for a supplementary budget for its N170 billion revitalisation pledge, the Federal Government decided to shift the fund to the 2023 budget.
The union, therefore, called on well-meaning Nigerians to appeal to the government to quickly resume and conclude the ongoing re-negotiation “to enable our students to go back to campuses.”