The 158-day-old strike by the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has been put on hold “to give the government time to conclude talks and execute NAAT’s requests.”
Ibeji Nwokoma, the president of NAAT, informed reporters of the development on Thursday after the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, stating that the strike suspension will run for three months.
He said NAAT had embarked on the strike on March 21, 2022 to press home its demands which included non-full implementation of FGN/NAAT 2009 agreement, refusal to release enabling circular for the implementation of CONTISS 14 and 15 for academic technologists, and non-payment of the arrears of Earned Academic Allowances to our members, among others.
The NAAT president revealed that the union, following a robust engagement with the government, was able to secure the commitment and resolution on some of its demands, even as it rejected the ‘No work, No pay’ policy of the federal government.
He listed the commitments secured from the federal government to include the release of enabling circular on CONTISS 14 and 15, agreements on payment of arrears of minimum wage/consequential adjustments, payment of occupational hazard allowance, and implementation of responsibility allowance, among others.
“Following this understanding with government, NAAT as a democratic union directed all her branches to conduct referendum on whether to suspend or continue the strike. The National Executive Council of NAAT met and considered the results from branches today Thursday 25th August, 2022.
“The result of the referendum from branches showed that 80.56% voted in favour of suspension of the strike while 19.44% voted for continuation of the strike.
“Subsequently, NEC came to the conclusion that the demands of NAAT were substantially being addressed.
“Consequent upon the above result, calls and appeals by well-meaning Nigerians, students, parents and other critical stakeholders, NEC in session, in the interest of the nation unanimously resolved to suspend the ongoing strike action for three (3) months to enable government address all the issues at stake, effective from midnight of Friday, 26th August, 2022.
“By this development, all NAAT members in tertiary institutions are directed to resume work with effect from the date stated above. NAAT, therefore requests that students especially final year project students/researchers with on-going research activities and other unfinished practical works can come over and would be attended to.
The Union, while rejecting the position of the government on “No Work No Pay”, demanded that their withheld salaries be paid without delay, noting that it followed all laid down rules before embarking on strike.
“On the Federal Government of Nigeria’s position to invoke the ‘No work, No pay’ rule, NAAT totally reject this in its entirety as we are not the architect of the prolonged strike but rather FGN’s failure to address all the contending issues promptly. It should be noted that NAAT complied with all laid down procedures before embarking on the industrial action.
“Therefore, NAAT demands in strong terms the payment of our withheld salaries without delay.
“It is important to state that at the expiration of the three-month window period, NAAT will not hesitate to resume the suspended strike without notice if all the issues agreed upon with the Honourable Minister of Education, on behalf of government are not holistically addressed.
“The National Executive Council, in the interest of the nation, unanimously resolved to suspend the ongoing strike action for three months to enable the government to address all the issues at stake, effective from midnight of Friday, August 26, 2022”, Nwokoma said.
NAAT, however, implored the Minister of Education “to plead with the government on passionate ground to pay the August 2022 salaries to members of NAAT immediately the strike is suspended.”