• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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FG, ASUU to reconcile outstanding issues as strike continues

Chris Ngige-ASUU

The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have had discussions to reconcile outstanding issues concerning the disputed Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) in order to end the two-week warning strike embarked upon by the union on Monday.

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, made this known after a closed-door session with the university union on Thursday in Abuja even as it appears the strike would continue as outstanding issues were yet to be concluded.

Minister Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, among others were in attendance.

 Ngige said “I am pleased to inform you that we held very fulfilling discussions. On the issues we discussed we used the Memorandum of Action (MOA) which we entered into in February 2019.  We used it to look at issues that are outstanding, issues that have not been fully addressed. And both sides were satisfied that we made reasonable progress in addressing the few issues that have not been fully treated in that MOA.

 “Therefore we move to the next round of a new contentious issue, which is the issue bordering on the non-capturing of some ASUU members on the IPPIS platform, which resulted in withholding of salaries and allowances of most ASUU members and those who did not come under the platform and even some other university non-academic staff members.

“ASUU had developed University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and we have had some preliminary agreements on what is to be done to accommodate the two systems,” he said.

He advised ASUU to get back to consult their executive committee and all their members so that they can agree on the modus operandi of trying to couple the two systems adding that discussions are continuing in that respect.

“So the meeting is adjourned till Monday or Tuesday next week pending on when ASUU is ready. “For us we have made progress. We thank the legislature for intervening earlier on this morning. Our meeting with them also helped us to smooth some rough areas,” the minister said.

Ngige, had on Thursday decried that ASUU embarked on strike without properly notifying the government. He however, noted the government was willing to resolve the issues so that the strike can be called off.

Also speaking after the meeting, ASUU President Biodun Ogunyemi said “from our own side we would say that we had a frank session and frank engagement. Those issues like the minister rightly mentioned came from outstanding issues in the February 2019 Memorandum of Action which has tended to be overshadowed by IPPIS.

“From the discussion we had we agreed that we will go and consult and that the proposals that came up we cannot pronounce on them until we consult with our members,” he said.

ASUU has been having a protracted face-off with the Federal Government over the introduction of the IPPIS in October last year, which the government said was to ensure transparency in salary payment.

The Federal Government had maintained its position that all members of the union must be enrolled on the platform just like other government employees. The government had threatened that those who did not register for the IPPIS won’t be paid their salaries and there are indications that ASUU members have not been paid their February salaries because they have not been enrolled in the scheme.

However, ASUU had faulted IPPIS policy, claiming it was in gross violation of the autonomy of universities as enshrined in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2003.

ASUU said the strike was to compel the FG to implement the outstanding agreement and resolution of it Memorandum of Action it had with the union in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2019.

 

By Innocent Odoh, Abuja