Monday, 20 March 2017

ASUU protests salary cuts, increasing mortality rate of members


The Calabar Zone of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has protested the reduction of subventions to the universities for the payment of personnel emolument since December 2015. The Union also decried a spike in the mortality rate among university workers in the past year, saying the deaths “may not be unconnected these strangulating cuts in salaries.” The Calabar Zone of ASUU consists of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU), Ebonyi State University (EBSU) and Abia State University (ABSU) Branches. Addressing reporters in Calabar Monday, the Coordinator of the Zone, Prof Nsing Ogar, lamented that the situation has resulted in the incomplete payment of salaries, non-implementation of promotion, non-remittance of statutory deductions to unions, co-operative societies and creditor banks with which staff have commitments. Ogar, in the company of the chairmen of UNICAL, CRUTECH and UNIUYO Branches, Dr Tony Eyang, Dr Emmanuel Ettah and Dr Aniekan Brown, respectively, said the shortfalls which vary from institution to institution run into hundreds of millions for some and tens of millions for others. He said, “Fragments of salaries have been paid staff, with some universities paying between 80 and 90 per cent from December 2105 to January 2017. As if to dramatise its insensitivity to the plight of workers in the academia, the government cut February salary by about 30 per cent in what appears to be a determined onslaught to knock off oxygen from the university system. “This anomaly has thrown university workers into unprecedented agony, difficulties and embarrassment as if the already existing harsh economic realities and soaring inflation in the country were not enough. The persistent shortfalls, and now deeper cuts in salaries have mincemeat of the struggles of academics, killed incentive and dampened morale. “State universities are not left out of this regrettable situation as their visitors have developed the unhealthy penchant of releasing grossly inadequate subventions resulting in the payment of only net salaries without the remittance of deductions to unions and cooperative societies. “There has been a lot of agitation, outrage and anger from members of the Union, with the leadership coming under immense pressure. This has nit augured well fostering an atmosphere for meaningful activities on university campuses. To think that workers’ productivity can be divorced from their welfare is a regrettable fallacy. “While expressing our frustration at government’s failure to see the need to address this problem with its wide ramifications, we are heavily disappointed that the governing councils of the universities have been at best phlegmatic, and at worst indifferent, towards taking serious steps to salvage the situation and avert the looming catastrophe. “ASUU categorically condemns and rejects the cruel and sustained attempts to emasculate and humiliate academics, and is resolved to challenge in any form this monumental injustice and slavery, now posing an existential threat to intellectual workers. “We call on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to stop this unprovoked attack on the academia by releasing full monthly subventions to universities and the backlog of shortfalls owed them. “For the avoidance of doubt, out Unions National Executive Council will not shirk its moral and historic responsibility of taking firm and decisive action in this unjust situation is not satisfactory addressed before its meeting on March 25 and 26, 2017.”

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