The Federal Government has refunded half of the November 2022 check-off dues taken from all federal university teachers’ salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment delayed the union’s check-off dues, according to media reports.
In an interview with Newsmen, the ministry’s spokesman, Olajide Oshundun, stated that the government’s decision was based on ASUU’s refusal to submit audit reports.
According to Newsmen, check-off dues are money withheld from an employee’s pay for membership in a union or organization that represents workers in a specific industry.
Prof Gbolahan Bolarin, chairperson of ASUU, Federal University of Technology, Minna, told one of our journalists on Sunday that the government refunded half of the money withheld from members’ wages following the Newsmen article.
He said, “After the report by The PUNCH, the union received an alert intimating us of the receipt of the check-off dues. However, what we noticed was that we did not receive full payment. Instead, we received less than what was due.
“The funny aspect is that the government made full deductions from the salaries of our members. Our question now to them is where is the balance of the check-off dues?
“You can’t make full deductions and then remit half of what you deducted into the account of the union. The government needs to let us know what they plan to do with the money still with them.”Attempts to obtain comments from the Ministry of Labour and Employment’s spokesperson, Oshundun, were futile, since calls and messages sent to his line remained unanswered as of the time of reporting this story.
Meanwhile, ASUU branches have concluded congresses organized in response to recent events involving the union and the Federal Government.
Recent events include the government’s decision to refund withheld salaries of professors through the Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics and threats to deregister ASUU as a trade union.
According to news reports, branches began holding branch meetings on January 18, 2022.
Though most of the branches have yet to make their decisions public, Bolarin stated that his branch resolved that the government must return to the negotiating table in order to avoid a new strike in the university system.
Bolarin told Newsmen on Sunday that while ASUU put off its strike on October 14, 2022, in response to an Appeal Court judgement in favor of the Federal Administration, the government has not addressed any of the concerns that prompted the strike.
While criticizing the government’s decision to withhold professors’ salary during the strike, the university teacher defined teaching, research, and community service as the three pillars on which a lecturer’s function in the institution is built.
Bolarin said, “The public must be aware that the storm is not over. The ASUU suspended the strike on October 14, 2022, in accordance with the Appeal Court’s ruling. Our members have since gone back to work as law-abiding citizens, despite the financial hardship and mental stress occasioned by the withheld salaries.
“The issues that prompted the strike were the conclusion of the 2009 agreement renegotiation, funding for revitalisation of public universities, payment of the Earned Academic Allowance, the release of the visitation panel report, testing and adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solution, and university proliferation.
“These issues have not been resolved, no agreement has been reached, and no meaningful effort has been made by the government to address them.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of CONUA has urged the Federal Government to be kind and pay all university instructors’ withholding salaries for the past eight months.
Though the Federal Government had begun the process of paying CONUA members who had declined to join the strike withholding salaries, the head of the newly-registered union, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, demanded that all lecturers be paid.
Sunmonu spoke during CONUA’s inaugural National Executive Council meeting on Saturday at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, where he was ratified as the first national president.
Maintaining that CONUA did not declare a strike, Sunmonu said, “The only thing we can do at this stage is to appeal to the Federal Government to be magnanimous to pay everybody. But along the line of principle, CONUA did not declare a strike and the no-work-no-pay policy will be unjust to be applied on it.”
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