Tuesday, July 23, 2024

ASUU joins nationwide workers’ strike

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has issued a directive to its members, urging them to actively participate in the nationwide strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). In a letter addressed to ASUU zonal coordinators and branch chairpersons nationwide, ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke, a professor of soil science, emphasized the importance of solidarity with the broader workers’ movement.

The NLC announced the initiation of the industrial action on Monday, 13th November, following the reported brutalization of NLC National President, Joe Ajaero, on 1st November in Imo State. ASUU, as an affiliate of NLC, has aligned itself with the cause, urging its members to join in protecting the interests of Nigerian workers and the union’s leadership. In the communication, Mr. Osodeke instructed zonal coordinators and branch chairpersons to mobilize members promptly for active participation in the nationwide strike.

However, despite these calls for collective action, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria issued a restraining order on Friday, preventing the NLC and TUC from commencing the planned strike on 14th November. This interim order came in response to an ex-parte request by the Nigerian government through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Beyond the immediate call for strike participation, ASUU has raised concerns about the deepening socio-economic crises in the country, attributing them to the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies. The union highlighted issues such as the rising cost of living, increasing hardship, and the perceived lack of progress in addressing their demands.

ASUU’s longstanding demands include the revitalization of universities, autonomy and academic freedom, removal of federal universities from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and amendment of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Act. The union called on the federal government to expedite the renegotiation exercise and release allocated funds for critical areas, such as revitalization and the payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).

Additionally, ASUU expressed dissatisfaction with the dissolution of university Governing Councils and condemned the directive for federal universities to remit 40% of their Internally Generated Funds (IGF) to the government. The union emphasized the non-revenue-generating nature of universities and called for their removal from the category of revenue-generating centers.

ASUU also criticized the National Universities Commission (NUC) for persisting with the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) despite opposition from university Senates and academic/professional associations. The union pledged to pursue the rejection of CCMAS vigorously.

In light of the recent attack on the NLC President in Imo State, ASUU strongly condemned the assault and vowed to resist any attempt to politicize legitimate demands. The union called for the identification and punishment of those responsible in accordance with the law.

Addressing the issue of withheld salaries, ASUU acknowledged the partial payment by the federal government but insisted on the unconditional release of all outstanding salaries. The union highlighted the importance of this action as a demonstration of the new administration’s commitment to resolving lingering issues related to the previous strike.

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