Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment has stated that the Federal Government waived the ‘no work, no pay’ Trade Act for striking university lecturers to allow peace to reign.
“The government has released N40billion for the payment of earned academic allowances for varsity lecturers and earned allowances for non-academic staff”, he stated.
Besides, he said that the government may release N30 billion revitalisation funds to varsities by the end of this month.
Ngige went on to say that of the N40 billion, about N10 billion was voted for the payment of earned allowances of members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and technologists.
Although the non-academic staff have threatened strike over the sharing formula by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the government said when a similar payment was made in 2019, they got N8 billion.
The Minister, who gave the update in an exclusive chat with the press, said the Federal Government has so far kept faith with the agreement between it and ASUU.
“We are keeping faith religiously with the implementation of the agreement. In fact, President Muhammadu Buhari has given ASUU members a waiver/ pardon on the no, work, no pay clause in the nation’s Trade Disputes Act.
“I had to write officially for the presidential waiver on payment of outstanding wages of varsity lecturers to strengthen our pact and more so we are in a COVID-19 pandemic era.
“So, for harmony and understanding, we decided on compassionate ground not to invoke Section 43 of the nation’s Trade Disputes Act”, he said.
He reiterated that Section 43 of the Act is in respect to “Special provision with respect to payment of wages during strikes and lock-outs.
Moreover, the Minister declared that the Federal Government has started paying the outstanding salaries of the lecturers in a “staggered system” because every 31st December of each year, all outstanding recurrent budget , including personnel salaries, is mopped up into the treasury.
“We paid ASUU members from January to June 2020. The salary arrears outstanding were from July to December and because of mop up into the Treasury, we decided to stagger the payment.
“So far, we have paid July and August salary arrears in December, we will pay September and October with their January salaries as one tranche in January; and November/ December in February alongside their monthly salaries since they have resumed in their offices and research centres”, he made known.
Ngige also confirmed that about “N40billion has been paid as earned allowances to academic and non-academic staff in the universities.
“The non-academic staff said they disagreed with the way the National Universities Commission (NUC) shared and transmitted the earned allowances by giving 75% to academic staff (lecturers) and 25% to them.
“The NUC came up with that sharing formula based on the past threshold. This administration has even improved the benchmark for the non-academic staff because the last time we had a similar challenge, it was based on 80% for academic staff and 20% for non-academic staff.
“In 2019, the non-academic staff got N8billion as earned allowances but this time around, the government released N10billion for their allowances”, Ngige said.