The federal government has taken another step targeted at ending the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with the planned payment of about N34 billion as arrears of Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustments.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige made the disclosure on Tuesday while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
The Minister said the payment of the minimum wage arrears will not be for ASUU alone but would also include academic staff members of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
Giving a breakdown, Ngige explained that the universities will get N23.5 billion, the polytechnics N6 billion and the Colleges of Education N4 billion, making a total sum of N33.5 billion.
He added that various other committees set up after the last meeting between the government and the striking lecturers are working round the clock to resolve the strike.
“Those committees are working. The one on NITDA is testing the three platforms, the government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
“Also the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) of ASUU and the Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (UPPPS) of the non-teaching staff.
“They started the testing last Thursday. The National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission (NSWIC) has issued their amendment circulars.
“The unions also have copies to take care of responsibility and hazard allowances wherever it has not been properly captured.,’ Ngige pointed out.
Ngige said that apart from the university lecturers, the government is working on streamlining wages for other sectors too through the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission as a way to address various agitations.
He said; “For example, we have done it for the police. It wasn’t envisaged that we should do it in pockets.
“You can also see university teachers saying that their own should be done immediately, since we have done for the police. So, something is being done. It was part of the 2009 negotiation they had with the government then.
“So, the committee of Prof. Briggs is on it, discussing with the university unions and their employer, the Federal Ministry of Education. They will bring up something for the government to see.
“There are other people. The doctors are complaining about brain-drain, this and that. Their hazard allowance has to be touched and it was touched by close to 300 per cent.
“From N5, 000 paid across board for each person, the least person in the health sector is getting N15, 000, while the big ones are getting N45, 000. So, that is the quantum leap.’’
The Minister appealed to ASUU and other striking unions in the nation’s public universities to consider the impact of their actions and call off the industrial action.