The Taraba State University chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action in the institution.
This followed a permission by the national leadership of ASUU to the state branch to embark on the strike action to press home its demands and against the State government’s rebuttal of claims that it was not owing workers’ salaries.
Arising from a congress meeting, the union insisted that the rationale behind their action was hinged on State government’s failure to pay earned academic allowances, promotion arrears, fractional payment of salaries to staff as well as unsettled staff pension and gratuity scheme.
Mr Samuel Shikaa, the Taraba State University ASUU Chairman, noted that other reasons for the industrial action include non-implementation of agreements and perimeter fencing of the institution.
“Despite previous efforts to address the University Staff’s issues, including unpaid salaries, inadequate funding, and non-implementation of agreements, the government’s recent actions and utterances have further exacerbated the situation. As a result, our members have been compelled to take industrial action to demand their rights and ensure that their welfare is given the attention it deserves.
“This latest development highlights the urgent need for a lasting solution to the issues facing workers at Taraba State University and the importance of constructive engagement between the government and the Union to ensure a harmonious and productive work environment.
He enumerated the lingering issues to include:
FUNDING : “The smooth running of the University has been affected by the non-implementation of Law No. 4 of the Taraba State House of Assembly establishing the University. The Law outlined funding sources thus:
a. 5% of the monthly State statutory allocation.
b. 5% of the monthly statutory allocation of Local governments in the state.
c. 2.5% of contracts awarded by the state and local governments.
d. 2% as state education levy from charges on guests in hotels in the state.
e. Other sources, as the council may from time to time, determine.
Based on the data we have obtained from government sources including National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the members of the public may wish to note that the total amount that is required by Law to be remitted to the University ranges between N200,441,838.97 and N375,989,972.83 monthly, while the state government arbitrarily gives N120,000,000.00 monthly which is not even adequate to pay staff emoluments.
“This development is unacceptable to our members, and the Union is calling on the state government to calculate and remit to the University the difference. It is also worrisome to note that 2.5% of contracts awarded by the state and local governments are not being remitted to the University.
“The Union was informed that a dedicated bank account was opened at the office of the state’s accountant general to lodge the funds emanating from 2.5% of contracts awarded by the state and local governments. This arrangement is illegal!
FRACTIONAL AND NON-PAYMENT OF SALARIES
“The inadequate funding of the University has resulted in delays, irregular and sometimes fractional payment of salaries. This situation has put a strain on the financial well-being of the staff members. We wish to inform the public that from July to October 2022, the salaries of our members remain unpaid. Specifically, in September 2021, responsibility and hazard allowances were withheld; in March 2022, 51% of salaries were paid; in April 2022, 41% of salaries were paid; in May 2022, 41% of salaries were paid; in June 2022, 50% of salaries were paid; in November 2022, 49% of salaries were paid; and in December 2022, 66% of salaries were paid.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MEMORANDUM OF ACTION (MOA): “There has been non-implementation of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) made and signed on 18th March 2021 by the Taraba State Government, Taraba State University Management and the ASUU-TSU branch after reneging on several agreements signed with the Union. Our members are owed Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) from 2015 till date, and there is no clear arrangement by the government regarding staff pension and gratuity. Also, there has been no response from the government regarding the construction of the perimeter fence since the agreement was signed.
Promotion arrears for 2020, 2021, and 2022 exercises, with an annual step increment from October 2020 to July 2021, are still owed to our members.
THE TARABA STATE GOVERNMENT IS OWING US
“We respectfully disagree with the rebuttal made by the outgoing administration regarding the issue of outstanding salary arrears at Taraba State University and other payments to our members. We wish to state categorically that the government owes us in the following ways:
a. According to the Law establishing Taraba State University, the amount to be remitted to the University ranges between N200,441,838.97 and N375,989,972.83 monthly, while the state government arbitrarily gives N120,000,000.00 monthly. The difference should be calculated and remitted to the University.
b. Eight months of fractional salaries and four months of non-payment.
c. Our members are owed Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) from 2015 till date.
d. The government has no clear arrangement regarding staff pension and gratuity in the University.
e. Promotion arrears of three years is owed to our members.
“In conclusion, the branch craves for the understanding of the general public and the University community to prevail on the Taraba State government to attend to the legitimate demands of our members. The Union, at this moment, affirm its resoluteness to pursue these issues to a logical conclusion – he concluded.
Reacting to the strike action, the state government through the Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Edward Baraya, said the union was yet to communicate its action to the state government.
He wondered why ASUU would take such a decision when the present government was doing everything possible to address the issues before leaving office on May 29.
Also reacting, the special adviser to Governor Darius Ishaku, om media and publicity, Bala Dan-Abu, in a press statement insisted that the outgoing governor was owing no worker salaries.