Strike: Health workers berate FG over delayed resolution of issues in tertiary institutions

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THE Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, MHWUN, has berated the federal government over delayed resolution of its grievances with striking unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

The union also flayed the high level insecurity in the country, regretting that the government has failed to nip the development in the bud.

The health workers expressed disappointment at the federal government, saying while political actors were scheming on how to occupy offices in the coming general elections, tertiary institutions were left closed, with no meaningful solutions.

Recall that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Non Academic Staff Union of University and Allied Institutions, NASU, National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, among others, have been on strike, following disagreement with the government over certain demands.

The unions, which alleged discrepancies in implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payrolls and Information System, IPPIS, insisted that a newly developed system, University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, be adopted by the government.

A joint statement by MHWUN through its National President, Biobelemoye Josiah and Acting Secretary, Auwalu Yusuf Kiyawa, yesterday quoted MHWUN as tasking the government to meet the demands of the unions to avoid total collapse of tertiary institutions in the country.“MHWUN declared solidarity with the proposed national strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, following the strike, saying its members had been briefed to comply with the NLC’s directive once a date was announced.

The NLC had issued a notice to mobilise its affiliate unions for a nationwide solidarity strike with ASUU but is yet to carry out the threat.

The statement read: “We have followed with a keen interest the ongoing industrial impasse in the country’s public tertiary institutions, which had led to their closure since February 14, 2022, and the lethargic response of the government in addressing the problem.

“The ASUU, NASU, SAUTHRIAI, NAAT had been on strike for more than five months due to the apparent failure of Government to sign the re-negotiated 2009 Agreement with ASUU, failure to honour the terms reached at the May 2021 MoU signed with ASUU, and habitual failure of Government to respect Collective Bargaining Agreements willingly signed with unions.“

“No responsible government would close down its public tertiary institutions in this 21st century because of patriotic demands for a better funding of its universities and good welfare for its teaching and non-teaching staff. This is shameful.

“The leadership of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria is particularly irked that the Federal Government and the political actors have abandoned the children of the poor masses at home to waste away, instead they are seen dissipating energy and resources that could have been used to resolve the issue to fund political tussle to occupy plum offices that previous occupiers have failed to use for the benefit of the masses.

“We are more worried with the development because the academic future of the citizenry is being disrupted, whereas the politicians and top government officials have their children mostly in well funded and equipped oversea schools or in relatively expensive private schools in Nigeria.“

“Discerning minds will agree with us that the negative impact of the strike on the future of our children and Nigeria in general cannot be quantified. We call on people of goodwill to stand up in defense of the right and future of our children and Nigeria, by asking government to do the right thing and bring back these children to the classroom.““We condemn in strong terms the lethargic attitude of the government in resolving the issues in contention.

“In order to protect the future of our youths, whose academic life is being disrupted, we call on the government to implement without further delay all the agreements it had entered with the unions.

”We urge the relevant MDAs to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari’s earlier directive to resolve all outstanding issues with the unions is backed by immediate acceptable action that would end the stalemate.““MHWUN wishes to use this medium to unequivocally state that we firmly stand behind the university-based unions and the clear position of NLC leadership in this historic struggle.

“Our state councils have been put on a red alert, as we will not hesitate to declare a solidarity strike in support of the unions, if the government fails to resolve the issue within a reasonable time.”“On insecurity,MHWUN regretted that human lives were no long important as they used to be, adding that Nigerians were no longer safe, bothint their homes and places of work.“It said: “We, therefore, demand a resolute action from the gvernment to end this degrading assault on the sovereignty of our nation.““We equally condemn the current scarcity of diesel, cooking gas, petrol and aviation fuel, and the rising wave of arbitrary prices all over the country.

“This pathetic development has further exposed workers whose salaries and income have already been eroded by inflation, to greater hardship. The situation reinforced the earlier call by organized Labour for a resolute action on domestic refining of petroleum.““According to its 2021 OPEC report, Nigeria exports petroleum products worth $27.73 billion but imported refined products of $71.28 billion, leaving a deficit of $43.46 billion.

“To our union, there is no better time to end the madness of petrol importation than now. Finally, as political activities are heating up, it has become obvious that the same political actors that have brought us anguish, hunger, pains, death, social and economic woes are seriously preparing to return to power. We wish to state that it will no longer be business as usual.

“We wish to reiterate our earlier call on all our members across the country to ensure they register and obtain their PVCs and wait for further directive from the leadership of the union as Nigerian workers’ are prepared to take back their country from the economic buccaneers.”

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