Academic and Non-academic unions of tertiary institutions in Lagos State have said that they will only begin academic activities if the state government pays them the new national minimum wage.
Mr Olugbenga Salami,one of the union leaders and the Vice-Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, LASPOTECH chapter, said that his union would not relent in its efforts to ensure the implementation of the new national minimum wage.
According to him, other civil servants in Lagos state have since been enjoying the new national minimum wage.
Our reporter reports that the Lagos State tertiary institutions include: the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu and the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin.
It was also reported that President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the N 30,000 new National Minimum Wage bill which became a law on April 18, 2019.
Salami added, “All the representatives of all the unions in all the tertiary institutions in Lagos State had a meeting with the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Labour, Mr Babatunde Williams, on Sept.8.
Also, the meeting was attended by representatives from the office of Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
“The agenda of the meeting was the implementation of the new minimum wage to workers in tertiary institutions.
“After the meeting, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour assured them that the new national minimum wage and the consequential adjustment would be implemented but he added he could not say exactly when,” he said.
Salami said that the unions backed by the state chapter of the NLC,thereafter, resolved that no tertiary institutions in the state should open until the government begins to implement the new minimum wage.
“The three unions in LASPOTECH will abide by this decision.”
“We, therefore, appeal to our members to stay away from their campuses from Sept.14 and awaits further directives from their unions,” he said.
Mr Ige Ajayi; the Chairman, Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) AOCOED chapter; however, said that their members would resume work on Sept.14 because of their peculiar situation.
Ajayi said that their peculiar situation was that AOCOED students had begun their examination before the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had congress meeting with our members yesterday and there we agreed that we should tarry a while because of our peculiar situation.
“We all know that we are in school because of the students, we are considering them because they had been home for more than five months.
“We want them to complete writing their examinations and move on to the next level.
“AOCOED academic board has directed that students should resume on Sept. 14 and that their examinations will start on Sept. 21,” he said.
Ajayi said that their union were part of the agitation and demands for the implementation of the new minimum wage in all tertiary institutions in Lagos state.
Mr Moruf Sanni, the Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union, LASU chapter, said that their decision after their virtual congress was “no minimum wage, no resumption until government implements the new minimum wage”.
Sanni said that students and staff members would not be allowed onto the campus on Sept.14.
“There is no sincerity from the government concerning the payment of minimum wage to all its staff in the tertiary institutions in the state.
“We do not have any issue with LASU management but we want government to pay our minimum wage,” he said.
Mr Saheed Oseni, the Chairman of the Senior Staff Union of Universities,LASU chapter, said that they would meet with their members before declaring their next step.
Oseni said that they would be having their congress meeting on Sept.14 for decisions on the new minimum wage.
On her part, Funmi Sessi, the Chairman of the NLC in the state, urged the government to do the needful by implementing and paying all its workers in tertiary institutions the new national minimum wage.
Sessi said that the NLC would support every decision reached by the unions in the tertiary institutions.
“Payment of the new minimum wage is long over due because other states had started paying their tertiary institutions their salaries.
“Government should stop delaying the payment of minimum wage because it is only the workers in tertiary institutions that have not received payment.
“NLC and all unions in all tertiary institutions had a meeting with the Special Adviser on Labour yesterday and he said we should give them time,” she said.
Sessi also advised that government should not rush in reopening schools, especially in Lagos state where they had more cases of COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do not know why the government is rushing to reopen schools. I pray there will not be the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic after school resumption in the country.
“Even, the Federal Government is still taking its time to put everything is in place before school resumption.
“ASUU also made governments know that schools should not be reopened until the coast is clear,” she said.
Sessi advised government at all levels to focus more on improving virtual learning for students in the state instead of rushing to reopen schools.