The federal government on Friday continued negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to put an end to the eight-month-old strike action.
ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike on March 23 to demand “revitalisation allowance”, earned academic allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, visitation panels, among other demands.
To find a common ground in tackling corruption, the union proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a replacement for the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS), which is now at the final stage of integrity test.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how ASUU president, Biodun Ogunyemi, said what had stalled the discussion was the government insisting that payment of the withheld salaries and other entitlements of lecturers would only be effected through IPPIS.
Before the government introduced IPPIS to the union last year, the universities lecturers were receiving their pay through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).
However, the union members said the federal government should continue paying through GIFMIS until UTAS is ready for use.
PREMIUM TIMES also reported how the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, on November 4 said the government team is going back to their principals and “the union will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what the federal government has to offer,” and ”the conciliation meeting will reconvene on Friday to agree on government’s final position.”
However, the meeting did not hold last week as proposed by the minister.
The Friday meeting started at 11:51am with the Labour minister, Chris Ngige presiding.
He said the meeting should have reconvened before now, ”but we had to wait for inputs from all the ministries and Mr President.
“It was not easy for us to get the necessary things, we just finished the last consultations two days ago. I appeal that we should ensure we have a smooth and fruitful meeting so that our wards can go to school,” he said.
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Similarly, the national president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi said the issue of withheld salaries of workers should be first on the agenda but the labour minister said it will come last.
“We had expected that a number of things should have happened since our last meeting. We want to note that the way the minister started the meeting is suspicious. Our members are expectant and we hope to have a satisfactory report,” he said.
Mr Ngige declared the technical session of the meeting open at 12:10pm.
More details shortly…