Accademic activities at public universities may soon be plunged into crisis, following imminent strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Benin Zone, over shortfalls and arrears in salaries of staff.
Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Prof. Anthony Monye-Emina, who addressed journalists at the University of Benin on Monday, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Governing Councils of Universities in the Zone to address the issue or face strike action.
He said it has become necessary to let the public know of the new offensive of the Governing Councils and governments against the peace in the nation’s universities.
Monye-Emina who alleged that Governing Councils of public universities across the country have for some times now been paying fractions rather than full salaries to workers in the institutions, noted that in some cases, staff have been owed salaries running into months.
He said the unfortunate development has been blamed on the shortfall in and non-release of subventions from governments.
He further alleged that some universities could not pay their staff in the previous months while University of Benin and Federal University of Petroleum Resources were only able to meet up with 80 percent of their monthly salary.
“These unfortunate and condemnable developments are blamed on shortfall in and non-release of subventions from governments. In University of Benin, Benin City and Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPR), Ogbomoro, near Warri, the two federal universities in Benin Zone, the shortfalls in releases from government are only able to meet about 80 percent of monthly salary.
“In the case of the former university, some staff of the institution were not paid along with others in the month of January 2017 and further shortfall caused the university to accommodate only 80 percent of salary of its workers in February.
“The scenario is not different in FUPR and it is likely to be repeated in the month of March,” Monye-Emina said.
While noting that federal universities are passing through a very tough time, the ASUU boss said that state universities like Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa; Adekunle Ajasn University, Akungba Akoko and others, were worse hit, adding that some of the staff from those institutions have been working for six to seven months without salaries.
Monye-Emina said Edo State-owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, has been on shortfall in subvention for the payment of salaries for some time now.
He also noted that with several other challenges these institutions have to battle with due to less attention paid to them by the respective governments, they are neither in any position nor have the capacity to make up for the shortfalls and pay salaries as at when due.
He therefore warned that the Union will no longer tolerate being owed, considering the present economic reality in the country.
“This shortfalls and owed arrears of salary cut across public universities in the country and not peculiar to those in the zone. These developments are unacceptable especially given the current harsh economic climate and also considering that the salary in question is a product of collective bargaining.
“They amount to unilateral cut in and seizure of salary and breaches of the outcome of the collective bargaining process that midwifed the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.
“ASUU is using this opportunity to advise the governing councils of these institutions and to put them on notice that this is an affront which will no longer be condoned. They are advised to rise up to their responsibilities and interface with the owner-governments of these institutions and stop the fractional payments and owed arrears forthwith. The union is giving the governing councils 14 days,” he said.
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