The National Association of Academic Technologists has warned the Prof Nimi Briggs-led Committee against any action that negates the principles of collective bargaining as it relates to salaries and allowances in the ongoing industrial action by university unions.
The union said awarding any percentage increase in salary or allowances to NAAT members unilaterally against all negotiations anchored on the principles of collective bargaining as contained in the International Labour Organisation Convention 98 is immoral.
NAAT President, Ibeji Nwokoma, who addressed newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, said the Federal Government has shown no intention of resolving the ongoing strike action by university unions, noting that the government has remained adamant and recalcitrant in addressing the germane issues.
He said, “It is precisely 129 days today that we have been on this needless strike action; if only we have a responsive government that makes education a priority.
“It is also needless to say that we are indeed in trouble as a nation if for five months or thereabouts, all our public universities have been forced to shut their gates against academic activities.”
The president further noted that since the commencement of renegotiation, no discussion had been held on the issue of salaries and allowances.
“Since the commencement of the re-negotiation of the FGN/NAAT 2009 Agreement, NAAT held three meetings with the committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Wale Babalakin; an inaugural meeting with Prof Munzali Jibril-led committee; and also three meetings with Prof Nimi Briggs Committee. In all the meetings held, at no time was the issue of salaries and allowances of members of NAAT negotiated.
“NAAT will resist any attempt under any guise to introduce disparity in salaries in the universities, as that will have its ripple effects by solving a problem and creating multiple hydra-headed additional problems of restiveness, resistance, and deep-rooted further struggles,” Nwokoma warned.”
The union president further decried several futile meetings held between government and NAAT with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, as the facilitator and conciliator, all of which resulted in many partially implementation in 2017, 2020 and 2021.
The union, therefore, called on the Briggs committee to reconvene and conclude the re-negotiation process and further adopt a more robust approach to the negotiation, describing the committee as “slow and spineless in its ability to take decisions on behalf of the government.”
Nwokoma restated the demands of his union, which include the full implementation of the 2009 FGN/NAAT Agreement; the implementation of CONTISS 14 and 15 for academic technologists; payment of the arrears of earned allowances; and provision of funds for the upgrade of public universities’ laboratories, workshops, and studios.