The indefinite strike that was embarked on by The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) since last October over unresolved issues with the Federal Government has been suspended.
The suspension of the strike was announced by the union in a letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, signed by its Secretary General, Comrade Theophilus Ndubuaku.
The letter read: “The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), hereby writes to inform you of our decision to suspend, with immediate effect, our ongoing strike called to protest the following issues:
“Refusal of the supervising ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to implement the Conditions of Service (CoS) of Federal Research Agencies, Institutions and Colleges (CoS 19) as approved by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) with effect from January 1, 2019.
“Refusal of the Federal Government to pay the arrears of 53.7 percent on Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure (CONRAISS) despite the agreement between Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sectors Union (JORAISU) and the Federal Government since March 7, 2018.
“Refusal by the relevant agencies to facilitate the increase in the retirement age of staff in Research Institutions to 65 years for non-academic staff and 70 years for academic staff as obtains in the Nigerian universities; and
“The serial sabotage by government functionaries in the establishment of the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC). “
The letter further stated that the union reviewed the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and other Federal Government agencies to resolve the issues in dispute and noted the progress made so far, such as the appointment of two sub-committees on Retirement and payment of 53.7 CONRAISS arrears.
Onuobia said the committees have submitted their reports, which were awaiting ratification by the larger negotiating team, incorporating stakeholders as the office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHCSF), National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission (NSIWC), all the relevant Ministries supervising Research and Development Institutes (RDIs), as well Department of State Services (DSS).
“Others are the directive of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Innovation to the Chief Executives of Research and Development Institutes (RDIs) to commence the implementation of the Conditions of Service 2019 (CoS 2019), the evidence of its implementation by the Federal Government, the letter of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the need to make the payment of CONRAISS arrears a priority and the progress made in the establishment of NRIC.”
“ASURI appreciated the understanding role of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, especially the Minister, in apprehending the strike and convening all stakeholders to a roundtable.
“The union expressed the hope that the Federal Government would not only resume the negotiation very promptly but also honour and implement the agreement reached.”She stated.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has resumed talks with the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the striking Senior Staff Associations of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) in a bid to reopen Nigerian public universities shut as a result of strikes by the various unions.