CEM REPORT, EDUCATION | The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has again stated its rejection of the federal government’s Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of university lecturers’ entitlements.
The union say accepting the platform or its modifications will go against the fight for autonomy for tertiary institutions in the country.
ASUU’s Vice President, Chris Piwuna, speaking during Premium Times Twitter Space said the payment of university workers’ salaries from the Office of the Head of Service is meddling in the affairs of the universities.
“We are not accepting that IPPIS is in any shape or form. ASUU will never accept IPPIS on our campuses,” he said.
“Autonomy of Nigerian university is our problem, not the peculiarities in IPPIS…The Office of the Head of Service of the Federation has taken over the work of the university governing councils and vice-chancellors.
“We are asking that they take their hands off the universities.”
Although at a meeting brokered by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Acting Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Okolieaboh Sylva, said the adoption of more than one payment platform by the government will lead to additional costs, which the government cannot afford to take on.
He however said the government would work with the union to modify IPPIS to recognise the peculiarities of universities and the features of the lecturer’s preferred platform of payment – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Furthermore, Piwuna stated that the lecturers’ union would continue to pursue its case with the Nigerian government at the industrial court.
He noted that although its strike had been suspended as directed by the court it will not be bullied into silence.
“Our lawyers will continue to argue our case in court and we believe that the continuation of the case in court is very important for the labour movement in this country,” he said.
“And in the response of our lawyers, they had to raise issues of agreement that have not been kept and all of that.
“We are interested in the court case, we are hoping that the judges will listen and they are watching the government and they can say ASUU is nothing other than a respectable union that has respect for the court.”
Speaking on the salary increment proposed by the government, Piwuna also noted that the union does not accept the proposed salary structure by the federal government noting that the government should maintain the union’s agreement as contained in the negotiated agreement with the Nimi Briggs committee.
He said ASUU believed that the Briggs committee represented the executive arm of government throughout the negotiation, as it was set up by the government.
“We rejected a unilateral award of the new award of salary structure for our union because we have an understanding with the committee. The Agreement with Briggs committee was based on a collective bargaining agreement.”
“Government has not come out to tell us they disagree with Nimi Briggs recommendations…If they had given the offer to the Briggs committee and we negotiated, that would have been collective bargaining.”
Recall that following the submission of the Briggs committee’s draft, the government proposed a 23.5 percent salary increase for all university workers and 35 percent for professors. But ASUU rejected it saying it was different from the contents of the Briggs committee’s agreement.
Also, Piwuna expressed optimism that the lecturers’ eight months’ salaries would be paid.
He said the Speaker of the House of Representatives has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to pay the union’s withheld salaries, but the union is yet to hear from the president.
He however added that the president was reluctant to grant the appeal because the president believes the union should not have embarked on the strike.
Recall that the government had insisted it would apply the ‘No work, No Pay’ rule throughout the period of strike by the university lecturers.