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From: Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin-City
The University of Benin (UNIBEN) Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Monday, issued a 14 day ultimatum to the governing councils to address the issues of shortfalls and owed arrears of salaries of staff of the universities or face strike action.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the union, zonal coordinator, Prof. Anthony I. Monye Emina, said it had 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.
He said for a while now, the governing councils of public universities across the country have been paying fractions rather than full salary to workers in the institutions of learning noting that in some cases, it was a case of owed salary running into months.
He said the unfortunate development has been blamed on the shortfall in and non-release of subventions from governments.
He said 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% 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% 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% 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”, he said.
He said while the federal universities are passing through a very tough time, the state universities like Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, Adekunle Ajasn University, Akungba Akoko and others were worse hit noting that some of the staff from those institutions have been working for six to seven months without salary.
He said Edo State-owned Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma has been on shortfall in subvention for the payment of salary for the time being.
He also noted that with several other challenges these institutions have to battle with due to less attention paid to them by the governments, they are neither in any position nor have the capacity to make up for the shortfalls and pay salary as at when due.
He noted that the union will no longer tolerate being owed considering the present economic reality of 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.