There are reports that non-academic workers at federal universities, inter-university centres, polytechnics, and educational colleges may go on indefinite strike tomorrow, Wednesday, if their salaries are deficient.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has intervened in the trade dispute declared by the workers.
The General Secretary of Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peters Adeyemi, who disclosed this Abuja, decried deduction of National Housing Fund (NPF) from tertiary institutions’ workers’ salaries.
He explained: “Those managing the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System (IPPIS) cannot afford to make mistakes in the March salaries. If the mistakes are made again, we will shut down all federal institutions in the country immediately. What we are telling them now is to move quickly and correct the anomalies. They should not allow the February mistake to repeat itself in the March salaries, if not, our reaction will be total.”
Adeyemi submitted that IPPIS did not take into account the peculiarities of workers in the tertiary institutions.
“With this first experiment, it is clear that the platform designed for us did not take our peculiarities on board. Rather, what was done was to massively cut our members’ salaries and allowances and also deducted the National Housing Fund (NHF), which has not been implemented in our institutions for many years.
“The reason the tertiary institutions pulled out from NPF was that it was not serving the purpose for which it was established. Indeed, some of the conditions that were specified in the scheme included presentation of Certificate of Occupancy before assessing the facility. As a result of that, we protested against our inclusion and government removed from the scheme. Because IPPIS has our data, government just went ahead to play around with our salaries taking what they ought not to have taken from salaries and refusing to pay what they ought to have paid to us,” he stated.
He lamented that there were some NASU members that were not paid salaries at all while some were underpaid.
He added that allowances captured in the Polytechnic, Universities and Colleges of Education 2009 agreement entered into with the Federal Government were not captured by IPPIS.
The NASU Scribe hinted that its planned seven-day warning strike was shelved due to the closure of all institutions across the country because of COVID-19 outbreak, saying, “We cannot embark on a strike when the institutions are all closed. We cannot also wait for workers not to be paid for three months. That is why if by the end of this month, we are short-changed again, we would have no choice other than proceed on a total strike.”
Adeyemi further explained that peculiarities that ought to have been integrated into IPPIS system included 65 retirement age, sabbatical leave, earned allowances and peculiarity allowances amongst other issues.
Adeyemi also hinted that more than 200 non-academic members that have their salaries’ account in Micro Finance banks in some institutions such as Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, were not paid their February salaries at all.
The Minister’s intervention, which was confirmed by Adeyemi, was aimed at stopping the strike action.
The Guardian gathered that Ngige told the unhappy workers that initial hiccups recorded in the payment of salaries of non-academic staffers were not deliberate saying workers in the core civil service experienced similar hiccups when the were incorporated into the IPPIS system.
He also assured workers that were short-paid that the balance of their salaries would be paid possibly alongside the March salaries.