…Hold Accountant General responsible for any industrial action ―SSANU
…Says payment of Minimum Wage not reflected on salary
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, has given strike notice to the Federal Government over its dissatisfaction with payment of salaries through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS and the alleged breach of Memorandum of Understanding, MoU reached between the government and the association in 2018
This is as the Vice President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, (North), Comrade Solomon Alfa, has said that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation should be held responsible if there is any disruption of academic activities when schools are reopened.
Alfa said that the payment of the consequential adjustment from the minimum wage increase has not yet reflected on their salary.
The threat for strike is coming on the heels of plans by the federal government to re-open schools that were shut down following the declaration of lockdown to curtail the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic.
The association said that the strike will be comprehensive, indefinite, total and would start immediately the lockdown is lifted and that there would be no other notice.
In a letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, NAAT stated that its disenchantment was as a result of the alleged anomalies and lack of transparency in the payment of salaries of its members through the IPPIS platform.
The letter which was signed by NAAT President, Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, was copied to the Minister of Education, Accountant General of the Federation, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC and the President of Nigerian Labour Congress.
The association regretted that despite its protests through memos and phone calls from its leadership to the respective organs of government, the shortcomings in the payment of members salaries were also witnessed in the April salary.
Besides, it complained that the IPPIS unilaterally stopped the payment of occupational hazard allowance, which it said has been a major component of the salary of its members.
The letter read in part, “We write with a view to drawing the attention of the Honourable Minister, of the tension, total loss of confidence and disillusionment brewing in the University Community cutting across the teaching and the non-teaching staff and staff of other tertiary institutions across the nation.
“This disenchantment is occasioned by the anomalies/ irregularities and lack of transparency in the payment of salaries of our members through the IPPIS Platform.
“These shortcomings continued to the last payment of salaries in April, in spite of protests through memos and phone calls from the leadership of the union.
“The IPPIS unilaterally stopped the payment of occupational hazard allowance to our members. The occupational hazard allowance is a major component of the salary and therefore not an earned allowance.
“The Honourable Minister Sir, our Union has been at the forefront of the clamour for visitation panels in the Universities and the implementation of reports arising from such visitation.
“Based on this and as a responsible union the leadership directed her members to key into IPPIS for payment of salaries to checkmate corruption, the menace of ghost workers and over-bloated salaries in the system with the understanding that the peculiarities of our members and the universities, as different from the core civil service will be taken care of.
“Sir, in the course of negotiation on the modalities for the peculiarities, a technical committee comprising representatives of the unions, IPPIS, salaries and wages commission and infinite (ICC Consultant) was constituted.
“The committee after extensive deliberations produced a dummy pay slip which took care of Salaries, allowances (earned and peculiar) and acceptable to the members of the committee. When the first salary payment under IPPIS was made, it was a clear departure from the understanding in the dummy pay ship.
“The IPPIS office was notified and a meeting was held on the 19th March 2020 between the members of the National Executive Committee and IPPIS officials.
“We were given assurances that prior to the meeting that communication had been opened between the IPPIS office and Salaries and wages commission on payment of allowances and that the observed irregularities would be rectified.
“Three months after, the salaries of our members have nose-dived and to our dismay, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation released a press statement directing our union to Salaries and wages Commission on payment of allowances contained in the 2009 FGN/NAAT Agreement,
“These are clear acts of deceit and breach of trust; knowing fully well that the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and Salaries and wages Commission, were parties to the FGN/NAAT Agreement.”
According to NAAT, the irregularities that have allegedly remained unresolved are, “Unilateral withdrawal/stoppage of payment of occupational hazard, Responsibility, Technologists staff and students supplementation ratio, field trip allowances over which arrears had continued to paid by the Government and Implemented by Several Universities
“Unacceptable delay in salary payment up to the second week of the next month.
“Deduction of 2.5% of National housing fund on gross instead of basic salaries as prescribed by the NHF Act.
“Non-payment of consequential adjustment and minimum wage arrears. Non-issuance of payslips since February 2020.
“Non-remittance of deducted check-off dues, co-operative, loan recovery etc to the appropriate beneficiaries.
“Underpayment and outright omission of many staff form salary payments. Stoppage of payment of ca I duty and other allowances of our members in medical centres and teaching hospitals.
Non implementation of MoU
“The Honourable Minister will recall that our union under the JAC of NAAT, SSANU and NASU entered into a memorandum of action with the Federal Government resulting in the suspension of the three-month strike action in March 2018.
“Unfortunately, Government has reneged on the agreement. By failing to release the appropriate extant circular backing the promotion of our members to contiss 14 and 15,
“Revitalisation of the universities by the release of funds particularly the laboratory, studio and workshops that are the fulcrum of research activities and centres,
“Non-human capital development of technologists, researchers and scientists for result oriented research work and enhanced productivity.
“Non-release of arrears of academic technologists earned allowances to stem further accumulation and restiveness among staff.
“Lack of commitment to full implementation Of the Academic Technologists Earned allowances as contained in the 2009 FGN/NAAT Agreement.
“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Minister is hereby put on notice that our union in compliance with the generality of the views, expectations and agitations of our membership, will resume the suspended strike action of March 2018 to press home our legitimate demands listed as anomalies under IPPIS and non-implementation of the memorandum of action willingly entered into by the Federal Government, are not resolved before the date of re-opening of schools.
“The Honourable Minister may wish to know that the strike action shall be total, comprehensive and indefinite and shall commence on resumption from the present lockdown as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic and there shall be no further notice to this effect.”