ASUU Strike Continues As Meeting With FG Ends In Deadlock
A meeting between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government has ended in a stalemate for the third time on Wednesday, as the parties again failed to resolve the issues around the payment platform for salaries and other benefits.
ASUU was insisting that the N30bn Earned Academic Allowances offered by the Federal Government would be for its members alone, a demand the government team said was not feasible.
The government had offered N30b to all the unions in the universities and another N20b as revitalization fund, totaling N50b during their meeting on October 15.
On March 23, ASUU embarked on an indefinite strike in March following the non-implementation of agreements and resolutions reached in 2009 and subsequent memoranda of understanding signed in 2013 and 2017.
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The union also opposed the adoption of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) but presented its University Transparency Account System (UTAS) as an alternative.
At their resumed meeting in Abuja on Wednesday which lasted for over two hours, ASUU and FG could not resolve the contentious issues around the payment system to be deployed.
Briefing journalists after the parley, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige said the university lecturers had earlier demanded N110b for the revitalisation of the university system, adding that the Federal Goverment offered N20b and N30b for earned academic allowances.
Ngige also stated that the government has said it would consider accepting UTAS, adding that the software is undergoing an integrity test.
There are three issues and these include the revitalisation fund where the government offered ASUU N20 billion, on good faith based on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation with the then government in 2009. This present government is still committed to it, while we are giving them offers of some fund.
This government is not against revitalisation but this government says that because of the dire economic situation due to COV1D-19, we cannot really pay in the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalisation.
The Minister explained;
We offered N20 billion as revitalisation fund. On earned academic allowances (EAA), the government offered N30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making it N50 billion altogether.
ASUU is saying that the N30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We do not have any money to offer apart from this N30 billion.
As you know last week, the minister of communication and digital economy has approved that NITDA gets ASUU system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test. This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today, they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA.
The Minister said the government could not pay the lecturers their entitlements during the transition period because there was no platform for the payment to be made.
Ngige revealed that the government side will meet on Friday and would subsequently communicate to the union if there is a need for another meeting.