TimeTestedNews ||Minimum wage: Workers not happy with Tinubu’s delay —SSANU

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The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has expressed sadness over the lingering delay on the part of President Bola Tinubu in concluding the new national minimum wage and making the final figure known to workers.

The trade union said the President was supposed to have concluded all needed consultations with the necessary stakeholders before the Tripartite Committee on the new Minimum Wage submitted its report.

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This is as the union has threatened to shut down universities at the end of the two weeks’ ultimatum it issued to government to pay the four months withheld salaries which has been paid to its sister union, ASUU.

The ultimatum, issued last week by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational Associated Institutions (NASU) to shut down universities if the withheld salaries are not paid, is expected to expire next week.

Speaking at its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the University of Benin, Edo State, SSANU President, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, noted that the president, during his election campaign, had promised to pay Nigerian workers a living wage that would take care of their immediate needs.

Ibrahim, who doubles as the National Internal Auditor of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), while responding to President Tinubu’s request to consult with governors and other stakeholders before taking a position on the amount to be decided, said: “I can say that at the level of SSANU, we are not too happy about the slow motion because the President of this country, President Bola Tinubu, campaigned on the mantra of ensuring that when he comes on board, he will make sure that there will be a living wage for Nigerian workers.

“And it is on the basis of this that most of our workers believed him and worked for him and voted him in and, therefore, the least we expected is this unnecessary delay.

“Consultation shouldn’t be at this level. Consultation should have been before the tripartite committee. Consultation should have been when the tripartite committee started.

“Mr President can summon or invite the leadership of labour and discuss with them. The labour leaders are Nigerians; they are people who also reason and therefore what we expect is that once Mr President provides the platform, they will naturally key in but where you have to shift the goalposts in the middle of the game doesn’t tell much and good for the government.

“Our advice is that Nigerian workers are feeling the heat more than any other person because we are the ones that oil the engine of the economy. And if you are expecting the best from the workers, you should be able to take care of their welfare and wellbeing, you should also make them feel secured within their places of work.

“But where they are handicapped, where they are starved, where there is hunger, there will naturally be anger and there will be indiscipline.

“We ask Mr President to fast track this consultation and make it snappy and government needs to understand that the more you delay, the more you accumulate arrears and arrears must be paid.”

On the two weeks ultimatum which expires next week over the non-payment of four months withheld salaries of non-teaching staff in the universities, the SSANU President said: “Our position remains the same. We are resolute. We have made up our minds that we will fight with everything that we have in us that is legal, that is within the framework of the law. We cannot continue to take the back seat. We cannot continue to be unjustifiably punished for no fault of ours.

“Like I keep saying, I wonder where the problem is. Mr President has approved that four months should be paid to workers in tertiary institutions, where is the problem?

“This idea of isolating some group paying them and leaving others we have mentioned it times without number and that we have been pushed to the wall arising from this meeting and the deadline given naturally and by default, you will see our action and that will determine the next impact that we will do, SSANU said.

“The non-teaching staff are and will continue to remain the focal point in our universities. You cannot operate a university without non-teaching staff. We admit, we promote, we appoint we pay. We take the services, electricity, water, healthcare, all of it. You cannot have universities without that. And it is not in our character to shut down the system.

“But where we are pushed to the wall, where we are denied our rights, definitely as leaders, we will have to fight for it. We will have to work towards it. And it is our prayer that before the second week elapses, the government will do the needful. We are hopeful.

“We are also prayerful but where it doesn’t happen, nobody should hold us responsible for shutting down the system because we are not slaves in this country. And we are not second class citizens working in the universities.”