The leadership of the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has appealed to the Federal Government to be magnanimous and pay all university lecturers their eight months withheld salaries.
The Federal Government withheld the salary covering eight months that the lecturers stayed away from their duty posts in the year 2022, following an industrial action ordered by the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Even though the Federal Government had commenced the process of paying members of CONUA the withheld salaries since they noted they did not join the strike, the president of the newly approved Union, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, however, appealed to FG that all lecturers should be paid.
Sunmonu spoke on Saturday during CONUA’s maiden National Executive Council meeting held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he was ratified as the pioneer national president.
Also, during the event, Dr. Abdulhameed Salawu was ratified as the National Vice President, while Dr. Henri Oripeloye emerged as the National Secretary. Also, Dr. Issa Abdulraheem emerged as the Assistant National Secretary, and Dr. Ernest Nwoke became the National Publicity Secretary of the union.
Maintaining that CONUA did not declare a strike, Sunmonu further said his members wanted to work during the period, but could not do so, due to the absence of students on campuses.
He said, “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 that provision of that section.
“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, and the students that we needed to teach were asked to vacate the campus.
“So, it will be unjust for the government to apply the ‘no work no pay’ policy to 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 a strike and we are not striking.
“As far as the crisis is concerned, 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 FG to be magnanimous to pay everybody. But along the line of principle, CONUA did not declare a strike, and the ‘no work no pay’ policy will be unjust to be applied to it.”
In the communique issued at the end of the meeting, CONUA opined that education could be made cheap by ensuring an uninterrupted academic calendar.
It also urged the government to “ensure reasonable utilisation of university autonomy” and urgently stop “seemingly unseen corruption and fix accreditation fraud in the universities.”