Contrary to earlier reports that members of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) called off their strike, after meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the previous week, workers in the sector have come out to deny such claims.
This was conveyed in a statement issued on Sunday by employees at research institutes affiliated with the Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Unions (JORAISU).
“We have not suspended our seven-month-old strike, according to the union,” the statement said.
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The explanations were made in Abuja over the weekend by the General Secretaries of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peters Adeyemi, and the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), Theophilus Ndubuaku.
In a letter to the chairmen, secretaries, and members of ASURI, Ndubuaku stated that, contrary to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment’s press release on May 5, 2022, stating that the strike has been halted, the strike is still ongoing.
He stated that the Ministry’s remark is a misunderstanding of reality.
He stated that all of our members are aware that ASURI is a signatory to the JORAISU strike, which began on October 13, 2021. That strike has not been called off, and there is no reason for us to instruct our members not to participate in it.
“The JORAISU strike is a sectoral struggle, so we cannot pull out of it unilaterally. The leadership of JORAISU is one and there is no division whatsoever.
“As stated in our earlier clarification, it is not in our power to unilaterally call off or suspend JORAISU strike. The action which we took in suspending ASURI strike is purely for strategic reasons.
“The General Secretary of NASU, one of the three unions participating in the strike also disowned the statement issued by the ministry.
“I don’t know what the statement issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment tried to achieve. We have an ongoing strike declared on the platform JORAISU. The strike has not been suspended. The Ministry of Labour and Employment is yet to hold a single meeting with JORAISU on the strike. So, how can anyone be talking about suspending the strike?
“The government has not implemented the pending 12 months’ arrears of the new salary structure approved for the workers in research institutes to warrant reviewing our stand.
“We have had several Memorandum of Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings saying the money will be paid on a particular date. We have been on this matter since President Goodluck Jonathan’s era. When Buhari came on board, we brought it to the attention of the then Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe. We even had an agreement which was signed by the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, Ogbe as well as the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“Other issues in dispute include the 65 years retirement age, inadequate funding of research institutes, the establishment of the National Agricultural Research Institutes Commission and skipping of CONTISS 10.
“The Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) is the third union that is participating in the strike, “Ndubuaku noted in the statement circulated on Sunday.
Recall that beyond the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which is almost entering the third month, other sister unions within the University system like NASU, SSANU, NAAT, and ASURI among others are still undergoing industrial actions with the aim of compelling the Federal Government to accede to their respective demands most of which bothers on infrastructural need and improved welfare packages.
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