Less than a week after the country got a breather from resident doctors in public hospitals, who called off their strike, public universities may re-open any time as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) this Monday agreed to return to classes.
Many are praying that other health workers will put a stop to their planned strike which may ground hospitals this Wednesday.
Channels Television reports that ASUU announced a conditional suspension of its nationwide industrial action.
Channels reports further:
ASUU’s decision followed a reconciliation meeting with a Federal Government team which held today (Monday) in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
President of the union, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who made the announcement, explained that the suspension was conditional, as it depends on whether the Federal Government would fufil its parts of the agreements
Today’s dialogue came after about two weeks following the union’s consultations with its various chapters on the terms of agreement earlier reached by both parties.
ASUU had been on strike since August 14, over unpaid arrears and demands for improved infrastructure in the universities.
A reconciliation meeting with the Federal Government on August 17 had failed to resolve the dispute, but fresh undisclosed offers were made to the lecturers.
Another reconciliation meeting held on August 29 also ended in deadlock, as ASUU insisted on seeing the government act on their demands.
A third meeting, which held on September 7 and concluded the following day, however, ended with agreements reached on some of the demands of the union.
During the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had offered assurances of government’s commitment to immediately commence the payment of salary shortfalls and funding for universities’ infrastructure.
Professor Ogunyemi had also said the striking lectures were willing to take the final decision on the industrial action once they resolve the “contentious issues”.
Some of the key outstanding issues raised by ASUU were the payment of fractions/ non-payment of salaries; non-payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); non-release of operational license of NUPEMCO and the non-implementation of the provisions of the 2014 Pension Reform Act with respect to retired professors and their salaries.
Others include the removal of Universal Staff Schools from funding by government; funds for the revitalisation of Public Universities (Implementation of Needs Assessment Report), as well as the poor funding of existing State Universities and proliferation of universities by their visitors among other issues.