FG Should Pay ASUU Salary Arrears –NLC, TUC

The President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Boboi Kaigama and the Acting General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Chris Uyot, on Monday, called on the Federal Government to accede to the demand of striking university lecturers by paying their salary arrears from July to October, 2013.
Both Kaigama and Uyot, who spoke in different telephone interviews with our correspondent, said that the issue at stake was too serious for the government to endanger with a minor issue as the withholding of the salaries of the striking lecturers.
Kaigama said that the lecturers should have been paid their salaries as going on strike did not mean that they were no longer entitled to their salaries.
He explained that the union went on strike because the Federal Government failed to implement the 2009 agreement reached with the university lecturers.
He added that it was not the lecturers’ fault for embarking on the strike, saying the story would have been different if it was ASUU that violated the terms of the agreement.
He said, “It is okay, they are supposed to be paid their salaries; when one is on strike, it does not mean that he cannot be paid his or her salary.
“They went on strike because of an agreement that was negotiated which the government has not been able to fulfill. The government should, pay them their salaries. The situation would have been different if they were the ones that reneged on the agreement.”
On the issue of the insistence of the leadership of ASUU that the Federal Government must commence implementation of the fresh agreement with the union through the release of N100bn this year, he said that he did not see the government going back on the agreement.
He said that the TUC and the NLC would support ASUU to ensure the implementation of the last agreement as it was witnessed by him and the NLC President, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar.
“The NLC President Omar, and I are living witnesses to the final agreement that was reached between them and the government; we will support them based on what we witnessed, based on what they agreed with the government and the new implementation strategy.
“The TUC and the NLC will back them to ensure that the implementation strategy is followed. An aspect will be implemented this year and the first quarter of next year,” he added
Kaigama said that while he wouldn’t speak for ASUU, it was his conviction that they might have been waiting for an agreement to be signed before calling off the strike.
Speaking also, the Acting General Secretary of NLC, Uyot, said that the NLC was of the view that the Federal Government would not allow the issue of the outstanding salary arrears of ASUU members to disrupt its offer to the union.
Uyot said that it was unlikely that the Federal Government would allow such a “minor issue” to derail its discussions with the union considering the fact that both parties wanted the issue of the lingering strike to be resolved.
He stated also that while ASUU went on strike, the government couldn’t be exonerated from the industrial dispute having failed to implement the 2009 agreement reached with the university lecturers.
“Well, given the spirit of the discussions between ASUU and government officials led by President Goodluck Jonathan, the issue of non-payment of salaries, we do not think, is something the government might consider because the spirit was such that both parties particularly the government wanted resolved.
“So, we don’t think that a minute issue would derail the offer that the government has made.
“In any case both parties were involved in the strike. The union signed an agreement with the government which the government did not implement, so government cannot say that it was not part of the problem,” he said.

VNTI ASUU

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