President Muhammadu Buhari will be briefed on the state of negotiations between the government and striking university workers on or before Wednesday, Nigeria’s labour ministry has said.

 

A statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, Olajide Oshundun, said the president will, after the briefing, make decisions on the contentious issues of payment platforms, conditions of service and wage increases for the striking workers.

“It is hoped that before Wednesday this week, all the various sub-committees will turn in their reports, to enable Mr President to be briefed fully and for decisions to be taken on the contentious payment platform and the renegotiation of the conditions of service, especially the issue of wage increase,” parts of the statement by Mr Oshundun, head, press and public relations at the ministry of labour, reads.

“It is after receiving briefings from the government side that the Ministry of Labour will bring all the stakeholders, including the unions, to a conference table to look at the agreement before signing or endorsement,” the statement further said.

The striking university workers had rejected the continuous use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of their salaries and other entitlements, alleging irregularities on the platform.

While the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is requesting the adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) is developed, both the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and other Allied Institutions (NASU) have requested the adoption of University Peculiar Payroll Payment System (U3PS).

 

In protest of the continuous use of IPPIS and refusal to implement the renegotiated 2009 agreement that was completed in May 2021, ASUU resumed a nationwide strike on February 14.

The strike has been rolled over for more than 130 days since February.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of SSANU and NASU has also extended its strike by two months –to end by August.

 

Meanwhile, the ministry of labour and employment has clarified that it did not invite ASUU or any other union to the meeting it held on Thursday.

It had been reported that the ministry was meeting with the striking lecturers union on Thursday.

But the ministry said the meeting was only meant for the inter-ministerial departments and agencies committees of the Federal Government, including the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Budget Office of the Federation, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

It said the meeting was to assess the progress it has made so far in negotiations with the striking university workers.

 

The two committees were empanelled by Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and Ibrahim Gambari, a professor and chief of staff to the President at the last tripartite-plus meetings of the unions and the government side.

“The committees are reporting to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment,” it said.

 

The ministry was reacting to ASUU President Emmanuel Osedeke’s comments that the ministry did not invite his union for any meeting on Thursday. Mr Osodeke spoke when he featured on a television programme on Channels Television.

The ministry said: “We will start by making some clarifications on the government side meeting held last Thursday, June 23, 2022, geared towards accelerating the resolution of the multiple strike actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university-based unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).”

“These clarifications are necessary so that the public will understand our role in the Ministry of Labour as conciliators and arbitrators in a labour dispute.”

 

 

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