By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has denied reports that it agreed to call off the ongoing strike after meeting with the Federal Government’s negotiation team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
The team had reportedly increased its offer for Earned Allowances EA to university-based unions and funding for the revitalization of public universities from N65 billion to N70 billion.
It was reported that ASUU had agreed to call off the strike.
According to the report, the university teachers agreed to call off the strike after government pledged to pay N40 billion for Earned Allowances and N30 billion for the revitalization of the university system bringing the total payment to N70 billion.
It was further reported that government agreed to settle the arrears of salaries of the lecturers before December 31.
The report also noted that ASUU was expected to report the agreement to its organs and then communicate their decision to the government after which a date for the calling off of the strike would be announced.
But ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, denied knowledge of any agreement to call off the strike, stressing that at the meeting, it was only agreed that the union should convey the position of the government to their organs.
He said : “ I am not aware of that. All I know is that we had a meeting and we are going to report to our members. But I don’t know about suspension of strike.”
However, a source in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, said after the meeting, the Minister, Senator Ngige, who described the meeting as “fruitful,” added that government made a proposal to ASUU.
Ngige told reporters after the meeting that, “many issues were discussed at the meeting including salary shortfall, the payment system and revitalization of the university system. I am positive that all the issues would be resolved at our next meeting.”
Friday’s meeting was about the seventh time both sides have met to resolve the issues in contention since the university union embarked on strike on March 23.
After the meeting of last Friday, November 20, government agreed to exempt ASUU members who had not enrolled in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and put them on the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS) pending when ASUU’S preferred payment platform- the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) will be approved.
ASUU had consistently rejected IPPIS, stressing that it will erode the autonomy of the university system.