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AKSU Staff Shut Down Varsity Over Salary Deductions

...Protest Is Unconstitutional – Vice Chancellor


By Ekemini Simon


Staff of the Akwa Ibom State University on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 barricaded the gates of the main campus of the university at Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area leading to the shut-down of activities in the higher institution of learning.

The staff who barricaded the premises were drawn from Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU; Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU; Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU, and the Non-Academic Technicians, NAT.

They noted that they are protesting because of unpaid entitlements, illegal deductions and non-payment of accrued arrears.

Some of the inscriptions found on their placards were “A labourer deserves his wages”, “pay 219 staff arrears “, “ Pay approved hazard allowances”, “Minimum wage is a law not a privilege.”

The protesters in an interaction with our reporter complained that besides unpaid entitlements and allowances, they are aggrieved over what they described as government ploy to use the new minimum wage to shortchange them of their legitimate earnings.

They noted that because of the new minimum wage, instead of their salaries to improve, they now receive reduced salary payment. The protesters said they are taking to the streets to push for their rights since according to them, the State government is delaying to correct matters.

Earlier, in a letter jointly signed by Chairman, ASUU, Prof Otoabasi Akpan; Chairman SSANU, Comrade Akaninyene Ibanga; Chairman NASU, Comrade Idongesit John and Chairman NAAT, Comrade Ndipmong Ikpoto dated February 24, 2020 and addressed to the Head of Service, they noted that the implementation of the New Minimum Wage as approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the State, has some internal itches which require the attention of the Head of Civil Service.

“Our University Management has intimated the Unions in the University of its intentions to implement the newly approved salary Table which carries two subheads being Basic and Consolidated components, excluding the peculiarity components of allowances as previously enjoyed by staff members.

“This, the Unions have seen as being against the content of Paragraph 2 of the Circular as quoted below: The new salary structure attached herewith shall be implemented with the peculiarity allowances at the current rates.

“We, therefore unanimously request that the Head of Civil Services should use his good offices to direct the proper implementation of the new minimum wage.

“Table issued because on completion of the Payroll, salaries of staff members have gone below what was received prior to the N30,000.00 minimum wage implementation.

“This implies that the University staff members will henceforth receive 2 components of salaries as against the 3 earlier received namely; Basic, Consolidated and Peculiarity Allowances.

“We also request that implementation of the new minimum wage Table for Akwa Ibom State University should be put on hold until the grey all areas are properly sorted out”, the unions said.
When contacted, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof Eno Ibanga noted that the protesters went on protest without notifying management of the institution.

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He explained that when the circular for Minimum wage came, they had noticed that the salary of many staff was reduced.
Prof Ibanga explained that owing to salary reduction, the principal officers of the institution had a meeting with all the four unions of which observations were made.

The Vice Chancellor who revealed that he is also affected said that it was agreed upon that the four Unions to get back to government through the Permanent Secretary of Establishment to table their grievances.
He insisted that after petitioning the State government over the issue, the staff of the institution should have waited for the Head of Service to respond to their letter before taking actions. The Vice Chancellor said the act is unconstitutional and should have been thought through.

According to the institution’s internal memo of February 27, 2020 exclusively obtained by Crystal Express, the Vice Chancellor had directed members of staff to remain calm while the matter involving Basic Salary and Consolidated Allowances are being sorted out.

Part of the memo reads “the Vice Chancellor has also said that, pending the response from the Head of Service, February salaries will be paid based on the new table while arrears which may result from the current negotiation between the staff unions and Government will be paid subsequently.”

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