The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has given reasons for not accepting the salary award of the Recommended Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) prepared by the National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission (NSIWC).
ASUU through a statement signed by Emmanuel Osodeke, the national president of the union, said on August 16, at the resumed meeting of the Federal Government and the union’s 2009 agreement re-negotiation committee, that the salary award did not follow the supposed principles, such as the principle of collective bargaining
Osodeke cited the Federal Government –ASUU agreement in 1981 which established the principle of collective bargaining, based on the Wages Boards and Industrial Council’s Decree No 1 of 1973, the Trade Dispute Act (1976), ILO Conventions 49 (1948), 91(1950), 154 (1988) and recommendation 153 (1981), Udoji Commission Report of 1974, and Cookey Commission Report of 1981.
He also stated that the agreement gave room for resolving important issues such as special salaries and conditions of service for university staff, university funding, roles of pro-chancellors, vice-chancellors, and the National Universities Commission (NUC).
The ASUU leader said that the key outcome of that agreement was a special salary scale for university staff known as University Salary Structure (USS).
According to him, “At the commencement of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement on March 16, 2017, both the government and ASUU teams agreed to be guided by the following principles as their terms of reference: “Reversal of the decay in the Nigerian university system in order to reposition it for its responsibilities in national development; reversal of the brain drain, not only by enhancing the remuneration of academic staff but also by disengaging them from the encumbrances of a unified civil service wage structure; restoration of Nigerian universities through immediate massive and sustained financial intervention and ensuring genuine university autonomy and academic freedom.”
The union regretted what it called the Federal Government’s surreptitious move to set aside the principle of collective bargaining, which is globally in practice, saying this has the potential to damage the lecturers’ psyche and destroy their commitment to the university system.
“This is, no doubt, injurious to Nigeria’s aspiration to become an active player in the global knowledge industry.
“Rejecting a salary package arrived at through collective bargaining is a repudiation of government’s pronouncements on reversing “brain drain,” ASUU said in the statement.
The union further pointed to the fact that more Nigerian scholars, especially in scarce areas like science and medicine, are migrating in droves to Europe, America, and many parts of Africa such as South Africa, Rwanda, and Ghana with supportive environments to ply their trades as well as competitive reward systems for intellectual efforts which should not be.
The statement blamed the government for the ongoing prolonged strike.
“Government imposed the ongoing strike on ASUU and it has encouraged it to linger because of its provocative indifference. The Munzali Jibril-led renegotiation committee submitted the first draft agreement in May 2021 but the government’s official response did not come until about one year later!
“Again, the “Award” presented by the Nimi Briggs-led team came across in a manner of take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper. No serious country in the world treats its scholars this way
“Over the years, particularly since 1992, the union has always argued for and negotiated a separate salary structure for academics for obvious reasons. ASUU does not accept any awarded salary as was the case in the administration of General Abdulsalam Abubakar.
“The separate salary structures in all FGN/ASUU Agreements were usually the outcome of collective bargaining processes,” the union maintained.