The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is holding a protest across the country in solidarity with university workers who have been on strike for a few months.
While the demonstration is expected to take place in all 36 states of the Federation, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will join the protest on Wednesday.
University workers, including members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), among others, had gone on strike for various reasons.
Lecturers in government-owned universities – affiliated with ASUU – embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the government as the payment system in the university sector.
They had also decried the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the inability of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers, among other issues.
Since the industrial action began, several negotiations between the union and the government have ended in deadlock.
While the government is still struggling to resolve the issues raised by the striking lecturers, the crisis in the public universities may not end soon as NASU and SAANU have also voiced their concerns.
Both unions recently rejected the report of the Professor Nimi Briggs-led renegotiation committee set up by the Federal Government to end all strikes across the nation’s universities, saying they would not be bound by its recommendations.
They said they never concluded negotiations with the committee before it submitted its recommendations to the government for implementation, stressing that such an action was a betrayal.
Reacting to the disturbing situation in the university sector, the NLC faulted the Federal Government over its handling of the industrial actions that have grounded activities in public institutions.
It also called on the government to pay the salaries of the striking workers, which it said had since “been frozen on the premise of the so-called ‘no work-no pay’ policy”.
The labour body asked the government to immediately conclude the ongoing negotiations with unions and be prepared to “commence implementation of whatever Collective Bargaining Agreement arising therefrom” in a bid to ensure public universities resume normal activities.
It went on to declare a two-day nationwide protest to stress the importance of resolving the impasse with the unions in order to save the university education system from collapse.
Ahead of the protest, trade unions in various critical sectors such as aviation, electricity, and petroleum among others have directed their members to act in line with the directive of the labour union.