Workers’ unions at Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko in Ondo State have protested the State government’s alleged failure to include them in the implementation of a N35,000 palliative wage award approved to offset the effects of the removal of fuel subsidies.
The leadership of the joint committee, which includes the Joint Action Committee and is made up of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), stated that the palliative had not been received by University staff members since its payment began in Ondo State in November 2023.
The protestors, who halted activity at the state institution on Thursday, said the protest was held to urge the state government to provide them the money, which other state workers have received except for tertiary institution staff in Ondo State.
During the protest, Comrade Tayo Ogungbeni, Chairman of JAC in all state tertiary institutions and AAUA SSANU Chairman, stated that the unions’ demand was to appeal to the state government not to deny them their right to the payment of the wage award agreed upon by the federal and state governments in collaboration with labour unions for all workers in Nigeria.
According to Ogungbeni, all workers in Ondo State have received payments, with the exception of tertiary institutions such as Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko.
His words: “We have started this protest since Tuesday all over the State tertiary institutions in Ondo State, they did in Olusegun Agagu University in Okitipupa, University of Medical sciences in Ondo city, And Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, we do not want our rights to be taken for granted.
“The federal government announced a palliative wage award of N35,000 for all workers in Nigeria, we are part of the general work force, why is Ondo State excluding us? why are they saying we are not qualify for this pallaitive payment?, We are asking for that money now, we know our governor want our welfarism, because everyone goes to the same market, we also pay for the same fuel Price, what we asked for is our right.”
“The state government needs to increase the subvention given to the university (AAUA), there should be immediate opening of the University main gate, payment of the entitlement of all re-absorbed staff, payments of retirement benefits to our retired staff”.
According to him, “the state government should include us in the palliative payment, we see the nonpayment as a cheating, we are part of Ondo State workers.
“The information we are hearing on why they are not paying us is that they claimed that the tertiary institutions are autonomous. But talking about autonomy, there is no total autonomy when it comes to Universities, the federal Universities are paid, we used the same payment method, I see no reason why we should not be paid. The subvention we do receive is not up to what can cater for our needs.
“Before now, we have written to the Governor (Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa) when he was acting about this development, we appealed to him to intervene. We did fix appointment with him to table our agitations, but to no avail, the protest was to call his attention to this.”
Also, the Chairman of the Non Academic Staff union (NASU), Ekundayo Abiodun, noted that the association would not stop until their demands are met.
“Immediately after the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria the Federal government declared this palliative wage because the effect of this removal was too much on Nigerians, those in the federal institutions has received theirs, staffs in the Ondo civil service has also been paid two months, but the state owned institution in Ondo State has not received any, we are left out which is unfair.
“I will like to inform that this is stage one of the action, we are going to go further concerning this issue if the government seem not to listen, then we go to the second stage of the action.”
Addressing the protecting workers, the university’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Adebisi Adaramola, said the university is aware of the development as they are making all efforts to ensure the state government pays, appealing to the union to be patient with the authorities.
“We understand that some workers have been paid in Ondo State, but the Staff of the University have not received theirs, we had tried to convince them that the state government has not sent this money, we are making all necessary efforts to contact government”, the DVC said.