NIGERIA: FG Opens Negotiations with ASUU

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The federal government has opened negotiation with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)   in a bid to make the union end its ongoing strike.

ASUU on Monday had announced that it was beginning an indefinite strike to press home its demand for the upward review of retirement age for professors from 65 to 70 years and adequate funding to revitalise the universities, among others.

The Senate yesterday also intervened in the face-off between federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), which has been on an indefinite strike for the past three months.

Minister of Education, Prof Ruqqayatu Rufai, told journalist  Tuesday in Abuja, that the federal government had met with ASUU officials and presented its offer to them, adding that the government was  waiting for a response from the union.

Though she did not elaborate on the details of the offer extended to the union, she, however, did not provide any information on what government was doing to resolve the ongoing industrial dispute  with ASUP.

"I have nothing to say on ASUU strike, they are our colleagues and we have met with them and made them an offer and we are expecting them to get back to us," she said.

As the industrial dispute entered its second day yesterday, academic activities were paralysed at the University of Jos (UNIJOS) and Bayero University, Kano (BUK),  as students who turned up for lectures returned home disappointed because their lecturers did not show up.

The UNIJOS chapter of the union also met to endorse the indefinite strike.
The union reviewed the situation and agreed with the decision of its national body, pledging to cooperate fully to make the strike effective.

Chairman of the UNIJOS chapter of ASUU, Dr. David Jankam, while briefing members on the issues in contention and how the federal government had defaulted on various aspects of the agreement it reached with the union, said ASUU was left with no option than to proceed on an indefinite strike.

Thousands of  BUK students, who turned up for lectures at the two campuses of the university went back to their hostels and homes disappointed as their lecturers had joined in the strike.

Some of them were seen making frantic  calls to ascertain the true position of things, while others debated the timing of the industrial action coming on the heels of first semester examination coming up July 15.

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday waded into the face-off between the federal government and polytechnic teachers, who have been on strike for the past three months.

ASUP had proceeded on an indefinite strike on April 29 to compel the government to implement the agreement it reached with the union in October 2009.

Among the demands of ASUP is the implementation of the agreed consolidated tertiary institutions' salary structure (CONTISS).
Worried by the lull in the nation's polytechnics, the Senate Committee on Education yesterday held a closed-door meeting with polytechnic lecturers and relevant ministers where during which they appealed to the lecturers to call off the strike and return to the classroom.

They also asked the federal government to implement the agreement it had earlier reached with them.
According to a source at the meeting, which had in attendance Rufa'i and her counterpart in Labour and Productivity Ministry, Chief Emeka  Wogu,   the lecturers accused the government of not establishing governing councils in all the polytechnics as earlier agreed.

He said the lecturers alleged that the trend had created a situation where the affected institutions are run by cartels.

He added that the lecturers complained of the dichotomy in salary structure in polytechnics and universities.
According to him, the committee observed that if some polytechnic lecturers now hold doctoral degrees, it might not be totally out of place if they were equally remunerated like their university counterparts.

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