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Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan says closer ties between government and the organised labour is one of the major panacea for the overall development of the country. The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Higher Education, Professor Hope Eghagha in his keynote address at the formal opening of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in Asaba,Delta State said that labour unions should be considered as partners in progress and should equally see themselves in that perspective.
“All workers must remain committed to support Nigeria in the economic drive and that is why I commended NASU for holding its NEC meeting at this auspicious period and I believe that the union will brainstorm on topical issues that will further strengthen our drive for a greater Nigeria”, he said. Charging NASU to emulate its Delta State affliate, Governor Uduaghan stated that there has been cordial relationship between the State government and the Non academic workforce who totalled 5128 and constitute 26% of the state’s workforce.
“We don’ toy with NASU members in the state nor are we indebted to any worker, we place salary on firstline, as we hold the view that workers are entitled to their wages”, he maintained. He added further: “Your union is a major stakeholder in the education sector and I have no doubt that the present political dispensation has provided both union and government better opportunity to be partners in progress”, he stressed.
Earlier the President of the Union, Comrade Ladi Iliya has commended President Goodluck Jonathan on the signing into law the Act that put the retirement age of non-academic staff of universities, Polytechnics and colleges of education at 65 years. Comrade Iliya in the same vein called on Government to make the same applicable to staff of Research Institutes and Colleges of Agriculture; in line with the Agreement it reached with the Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Unions in 2009/2010.
According to Iliya, government should put in motion the necessary machinery to commence the negotiations of all the 2009/2010 Collective Agreement signed with the universities, Polytechnics,Colleges of Education and Teaching Hospitals unions, which is due for re-negotiations as enshrined in the agreements. NASU said government must bear in mind that it is these Collective Agreement that have brought seeming peace in the industrial relations atmosphere in the educational sector,though she noted that once in a while the peace is broken as a result of government’s non implementation of the agreements.
The union also charged government to honour the agreement(CONRAISS) and payment of the one year arrears of the agreement effective from July 1, 2009. NASU President decried the outlawing of unionisation of private tertiary institutions by their proprietors warning that such stand negates the core International Labour Organisation (ILO) ‘s Convention.
She stated: “The Freedom of Association and protection of the Right to Organise Convention. 1948 (No.87) has been ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in its Labour Laws. Furthermore, Section 40 of the 1999 Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution as amended in 2011, guarantees the Right to form and belong to a trade union. For the avoidance of doubt, the section provides that, “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest…”
We are therefore calling on the federal government to put a stop to this brazen violation of the rights of workers of these institutions as these proprietors are not above the laws of the land.” Comrade Iliya lamented the noticeable decline in the standard of education in the country which she said was attributable to the decline in the funding of tertiary institutions, schools and colleges.
She noted that governments at all tiers, with exception of a neglible few, have not done anything to encourage reading culture among the youths and other citizens. Charging government on research, she added, “The feats recorded by the developed countries, for which we are celebrating them today are products of research. A country that does not fund its research institutions is not aspiring towards achieving technological breakthroughs”. NASU President frowned at the alarming rate at which top government officials, politicians and their spouses troop out for medical check up and treatment abroad, stating that it amounts to a pass of no confidence on Nigeria’s health institutions and self-indicting on those in governance.
“We therefore call on governments, federal and states to ensure adequate funding of educational, health and research/ development institutions for appropriate manpower development, avoidance of unnecessary deaths of citizens and technological development and advancement of this country”, Comrade Iliya said.