The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has pleaded with the federal government, to in interested in stability in the university system, and offset the withheld salaries of members of a sister union, the Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU over its last nine months’ strike.
This follows the decision of the federal government to pay CONUA members arrears of salaries it (FG) withheld as a result of its no work, no pay policy introduced during ASUU’s industrial action.
CONUA’s President, Dr ‘Niyi Sunmonu speaking with newsmen after it maiden National Executive Council, NEC, Meeting held at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ile, during the weekend, said CONUA’s members under the Labour law of the country have the right to be paid for the period of the strike because it did not declare any industrial action like ASUU did.
“Recently, we received a letter from the federal government asking the National Officers to submit list of members of CONUA among other things that we are asked to supply with respect to payment of backlog of salaries and check-up dues.
That to us is a welcome development and a process that we will see through to the end. CONUA has consistently maintained before now, that it didn’t declare any strike and by the provision of section 43 subsection 1B of the trade dispute act, what happened to members of CONUA can be taken to be what happens in the provision of that section.
“It is a lock out for us. At certain times, students in the universities were asked to vacate the university premises by the management. To our mind, what the government is implementing is a ‘no work no pay’ policy. We believe we wanted to work, we didn’t declare strike, the students that we need to teach were asked to vacate campus.
“So, it will be unjust for government to apply it ‘no work no pay’ policy on us and on that principle is what we are following through which we wrote letters to various ministries and it is consistent that we have never declared strike and we are not strike.
“With regards to possible new crisis, as far as we are concerned it won’t degenerate into issues because the other union declares strike and they can actually state their case before the government or the court.
“The only thing we can do at this stage is to appeal to the federal government to be magnanimous to pay everybody. But along the line of principle, CONUA did not declare strike and the ‘no work no pay’ policy will be unjust to be applied on it”.
Responding to question that CONUA is a creation of FG to fight ASUU, Sunmonu described those spreading the allegation as jittery, affirming that the union is a product of ideology to ensure stable academic calendar in the nation’s university system.
The last I know is that ASUU is not a government institution that is saddled with the responsibility of recognising or otherwise of another trade union. As far as we are concerned, one of our own ideologies is that there should be an uninterrupted calender.
“I say this time and time again, It is not to say we are oblivious to the problems in our ivory towers and we are not saying what the government is doing is the best for our institutions but without sinking the boat, we can get to constructive engagement with the government on how we can have an uninterrupted academic calendar and the welfare of the academics are also better addressed.
“As far as we are concerned in CONUA, the issue of recognition or the insinuation that it is a ploy to destabilise that other union doesn’t come in. CONUA was founded on strong ideologies. Ideologies emanated from flagrant disrespect for the constitution and he who comes with equity should do so with clean hands. If you want to tackle or engage the government on wherever fault, you must also not have issues within yourselves.
“All that they are saying are side talks. For us, our focus is our union and the ideology we believed in and we will see it through.”