Following what appears to be a breakdown of negotiations with the Federal Government in their demand for better working conditions, workers of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) have declared their intention to begin an indefinite nationwide strike from Wednesday.
Already, the workers under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutions and Associated Institutions, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, have served the strike notice.
The chairman of SSAUTHRIAI, NAEC-Branch, Chukwuma Anyanwu, in a resolution by the workers declaring the action said, “the strike is coming after several dialogue and consultation with the management of the commission failed to yield any positive result.”
According to him, the decision to embark on strike this Wednesday was sequel to the expiration of the ultimatum on Tuesday.
A senior management staff said that the Chief Executive of NAEC has been away while it was also not certain that he would implement the demands within 24 hours.
NAEC, a focal agency of the Federal Government is charged with the responsibility of the implementing Nigeria’s nuclear power programme.
The core mandate of the commission is the promotion of the development of atomic energy and all matters relating to the peaceful uses of atomic energy, including various applications of nuclear energy in electricity generation, agriculture, water resources management, medicine, industry, education and research.
Anyanwu said, “The strike being embarked by the staff of the commission is the last resort. The workers have been demanding for high risk allowances due to radioactive source handled by worker in their assignments. It should be noted that the Nuclear Technology Centre, an agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology with offices near the Gamma Irradiation Facility operated by NAEC has been receiving high risk allowance for the past seven years till date while NAEC staff who are directly exposed to these hazardous work are deprived of the high risks/hazard and other related allowances as obtainable in Nigeria and the world over.
“The commission which is a research institute operates the Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Scale which permits for skipping of CONRAISS 10 (equivalent of Grade level 11 in the mainstream civil service). The skipping is selectively being implemented among staff and in some of the centres.”
The staffers were also protesting against alleged illegalities being perpetrated in the commission, including promotion of a Deputy Director employed on contract to a Director.
Others included contract tenure renewal more than twice; contract staff on pensionable appointment, thus receiving pension in two places under the same public service which is in contravention of Public Service Rule 020401(a); autonomous creation of position being referred to as ‘Project Managers’; placing project managers above Directors, thereby denying Directors their statutory roles and responsibilities and disparity in placement at entry level into the commission.
NAEC has its headquarters at No. 9 Kwame Nkrumah Crescent, Asokoro-Abuja, with several university and non-university based centres.
These centres had the mandates to conduct researches, develop and train manpower in nuclear technology, engineering and sciences.
They included Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) – ABU Zaria;
Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD) (in OAU), Ile-Ife; Nuclear Technology Centre (SHESTCO), Sheda, Abuja; and Centre for Nuclear Studies and Training FUT, Owerri.
Others were the Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies, University of Port Harcourt; Centre for Nuclear Energy Training and Research, University of Maiduguri and the FGN/IAEA Marine Contamination and Coastal Field Monitoring Station.