We’ll use our PVCs to vote out anti-workers govs – Adeyemi

The General Secretary of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Comrade Peters Adeyemi, speaks to MOSES JOHN on the outcome of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, the challenges confronting them among others. Excerpts
NASU’s worries Very numerous, you are aware for sometimes now we have contended with what we have been told that the economy is getting out of recession, and there is positive signals to that effect, but this has not impacted on workers generally. But I think particularly in this instance, as far as NASU members are concerned, we have several thousands of our members who are working in states’ tertiary institutions whose salaries have not been paid for months. For us that is worrisome in the sense that we are getting to a moment in our country where elections are so close, and politicians are not ready to do anything. Rather, they are politicking and relegating the welfare of our members to the background. This NEC is also looking at the fact that some of these governors are leaving office and are owing workers salaries. So, we are not sure those who will take over from them will be willing to inherit the burden. Fighting govs against payment of salaries So, we are going to use this opportunity to re-strategise and direct our members to use their Permanent Voter Cards to vote out those governors and their parties, we don’t care which party is concerned. But we are beginning a process right now to get them to fulfil statutory obligation as far as payment of outstanding salaries and allowances is concerned. And if they are not ready to do that, we should unite and use our PVCs to get them out of office. Also, the major issue which is not particular to NASU alone is the fact that government is talking about revenue formula from Federation account. But we are aware that the price of crude at the international market has increased as I speak to you. For the first time, because of the dynamic issues that are beyond our control, the price of crude has improved to over 80 dollars per barrel, and that is huge money. So, there is no reason why state governments should be owing salaries, or federal government not able to do what is desirable. Workers’ plight So, our NEC is looking at the fact that workers are suffering and some of them are dying. Also, we have the issue of unions being proscribed in Kogi state. We have had reasons at the level of NLC, to report to the ILO on the act of rascality on the part of the government. The labour issues are not on the concurrent list, so no governor has the power to proscribe unions. In Kogi state, the governor proscribed the activities of NASU and some other unions in tertiary institutions in the state. That has been taken too far, because he does not have such power, and we are using this forum to restrategise and see how we can get our governors and those in government to act within their powers. Arbitrary action cannot be sustained in a democratic environment. Even in the military era, this will not be like that we are also affected by the situation in Kaduna. You are aware that for almost two years now, we were not able to access our check off dues. In Kaduna state, unions’ activities have been crippled by the governor and we think that this is not right. Non payment of end allowance Our NEC is taking serious look at the issue. We have been confronted in the university with the issue of non payment of end allowance, we also say that government should be more responsive. It is worrisome for government to enter into a MoU with unions and go to bed. One of the problems federal government has with unions today is; when they are on strike, government will hurriedly enter into an agreement and the moment that is done, they don’t have the will to ensure that those MoUs are implemented. That, for us, is unacceptable. We had one with Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe and that of labour, Chris Ngige on the research institute where they promised five weeks, but now it is over six months and they are jumping from one place to another doing another thing to the detriment of our members. Minimum wage There is a whole lot of issues that our organ is considering. But I also think that the meeting is considering the struggle for minimum wage. It is irresponsibility on the part of some of us who are supposed to be responsible. In the first instance, you are playing politics with everything, including minimum wage. I have never seen in the history of a nation where the president will inaugurate a committee and after that, everyone goes to sleep. That alone is an indictment on the president. Why must governors not ready with the figure for the committee? Why will the federal government itself be dillydallying? It shows that this government is paying lip service to the welfare of workers. But we insist that it is the workers that create the wealth of the nation, and therefore should also benefit from the wealth. It should not be for those that occupy political office alone that eat in billions while workers are paid peanuts. Calculation today shows that N18,000 minimum wage is just $30 plus, and that is far from what it was in 2011 when we negotiated the existing one. It is appalling for some governors today to say they are against the review because they have not implemented the old one, but busy going on hired jet while workers are suffering. So, it is not the best of time for Nigerian workers and also NASU members. But we insist that we will take our destiny in our hand, we will fight, we will struggle and we will emancipate ourselves because we now know that those that we elected to look after our welfare are concerned only about themselves Reconvening of minimum wage committee Let me tell you clearly as a member of the committee, it has already concluded its assignments. So, reconvening the meeting is contingent on the figure been made available by those who are supposed to provide it. It is assumed that when the meeting is reconvened, it means those figures are ready. So, it is not just about reconvening, but ensuring that the figure that will allow the committee to conclude its work.

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