THE Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), on Monday,shunned an invitation by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, over the ongoing nationwide strike of SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), which formally kicked off on Monday across universities in the country.
After the meeting between the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Anyim Pius Anyim and the three unions failed to resolve the crisis, the unions declared that a seven-day nationwide strike would commence on Monday in all the federal and state universities acrossthe country.
In a swift reaction, the Ministry of Labour sent a letter to the University of Abuja, Gwagwalada headquarters of SSANU, inviting the union to an emergency meeting with the minister on Monday.
But neither the SSANU President, Comrade Samson Ugwoke nor his representative attended the meeting.
When contacted on phone by Nigerian Tribune, Comrade Ugwoke confirmed that the letter got to him but added that he was out of the office before the letter came.
However, he stated that he could not attend the meeting because SSANU was the only union invited out of the three unions involved in the struggle.
Meanwhile, the strike , on Monday, paralysed academic activities at the University of Ibadan (UI).
The gate at the main entrance to the university was shut to vehicular traffic, while students, who are writing their second semester examination,had to trek long distance to their examination venues.
The strike led to the postponement of post-graduate examination in the university’s Faculty of Education but the examination held in the Department of Sociology, where arrangements had been made to fill the gap created by the striking workers.
The chairman of the university’s chapter of SSANU, Mr Wale Akinremi, in an interview with journalists, explained that the strike was called to protestthe non-implementation of the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and the union.
He added that the “illogical and unscientific” recommendation by the Babalakin Committee on the needs assessment of universities that non-academic staff in the universities be trimmed also informed the strike action, adding that it was unreasonable to contemplate sack of workers with the gloomy outlook of the nation’s economy.
“Virtually all state governor have done the financial implementation of the agreement, while the Federal Government which signed the agreement and made its implementation optional for state governments is dilly dallying.
“The committee’s recommendation is obnoxious. I can speak for the University of Ibadan, where even with the recent employment by the university, we are still grossly understaffed. You cannot work in this university and say you will close at 4:00 p.m., I don’t know how many workers afford that luxury,” he said.
NASU chairman, Olusola Fatoki Cole, while addressing the workers, who assembled at the main entrance to the university, said workers could no longer afford to wait endlessly for the implementation of the agreement which the Federal Government promised would be factored into the 2010 budget but did not.
“This calls for a serious fight between us and government. When we come back in January descending on the Federal Government, Nigerians will see the kind of leadership we have in Nigeria. In 1999, there were three children of governors in U.I But I do not think there is any in the school now. And this is a first class university. They now send their children to private universities abroad.
He decried the nonchalance of the Federal Government to the well-being of workers, saying that the peace meeting called at the instance of government to make the unions shelve the strike did not yield fruitful results.
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