By Daniel Dafe
Rising from an emergency congress, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, National Association Academic Technologists, NAAT and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU, Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, have called on the Delta State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa to implement the minimum wage for staff of the university and pay all outstanding arrears, saying that failure to do this will result in a strike action.
The said congress by the unions under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC) that held at the Science Auditorium, Site III in Abraka on Wednesday, also issued a 28-day ultimatum to the government to act, adding that if the Okowa adminstration fails to comply within the time frame, they will call for another congress and take a decision which is likely to be a strike action.
Speaking on behalf of JAC, the SSANU-DELSU Chairman, Comrade Monday Izu, wondered why the state government has started paying the minimum wage to other workers in the state since November 2019, but failed to do same to DELSU staff.
He recalled that last year, government and the union met and that led to the agreement for a new minimum wage for all Nigerians, noting that the new minimum wage was domiciled in Delta State with effect from November last year.
He continued: “The state government has started paying all workers in Delta State with effect from November 2019, except the workers of the Delta State University. We have been waiting. In May we wrote a memo to government copying the management to draw their attention to the fact that the staff of Delta State University are yet to benefit from the minimum wage. We did not receive any response.
“Last month in September, we wrote to government again, drawing the attention of government that the minimum wage is yet to be effected for the workers of Delta State University. We even gave a subtle ultimatum that in that latter part of September, that if we are not paid the minimum wage in the salary of October, we cannot guarantee industrial harmony in this place. Now, even with the salary of October, we were still not paid the minimum wage and that is why we have met as a union, as workers and instead of us to say we are going on strike immediately, the workers have also said lets still give government and management another 28 days within which to implement the minimum wage and pay the accrued arrears with effect from November 2019 failing which at the expiration of the 28 days the workers will reconvene again and declare an industrial action. That is what we have discussed today.”
When asked if apart from writing letters they have tried other options to get a positive response from the Okowa administration, he said: “Yes, this is a formal organization; communications are done through writing and besides that, there have been other physical contacts too. I have also made other physical interactions too.
According to him, the management has played its role.
“Management has forwarded the issue and everything to government, So it is left for the government to implement. That is where we are,” he said.
On a possible excuse by the government to blame the delay on COVID-19, he opined: “If the COVID-19 did not stop the government from implementing the minimum wage for other workers in the state, it should not affect DELSU workers too,” saying that “COVID-19 is not limited to Delta State and so that cannot stand as an excuse.”
“Every other worker is paid in the state apart from Delta State University, so COVID-19 will not stand as an excuse,” he averred.
When asked to send his words to the state government, he said: “Our message to the state government is in consonance with our ultimatum that within the 28 days they should pay us the minimum wage and the arrears with effect from November 2019. If that is not done in the space of 28 days the Congress will convene again and take another decision that is most likely to be an industrial action.”
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