The in-house unions of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, on Monday locked the institution’s gate, preventing its management, staff and students from entering into the institution’s premises.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the unions said that their action was to protest the delay in the payment of the new minimum wage to the staff of Lagos State tertiary institutions by the state government.
The unions comprise: the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
The unions told the management of LASU to resume duty at the Ministry of Education, Alausa, Lagos.
NAN reports that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, during the 17th update on the management of the Coronavirus pandemic in Lagos State on Aug.29, asked the state-owned tertiary institutions to reopen on Sept. 14.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the N30,000 new National Minimum Wage Act into law, effective April 18, 2019, thus repealing the Minimum Wage Act of 2011.
The Chairman of ASUU-LASU chapter,
Dr Ibrahim Bakare, said that the school would remain shut if the new minimum wage was not paid to its staff.
Bakare said that the members of staff of all the tertiary institutions in Lagos State had resolved to prevent the institutions from reopening, if the state government did not begin to implement their minimum wage.
“On this issue, we have to comply with the directives of the joint tertiary institutions in Lagos State that, as from today, if the minimum wages of our members are not paid, then we will commence an indefinite strike.
“We believe that the state government will take the appropriate decision in terms of implementing the minimum wage and its arrears.
“Other workers from state parastatal agencies started enjoying the minimum wage increment 18 months ago. I do not understand why tertiary institutions should be an exemption.
“We had met with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour and with other education stakeholders. But, there seems to be no readiness to commence the implementation of the new minimum wage,” the ASUU chairman said.
Bakare said that their members hoped that the government would implement and start paying their minimum wage by the end of this month.
Mr Saheed Oseni, Chairman, SSANU, LASU Chapter, said that they shut down the school because they wanted the government to start the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Oseni said that they had continued working for 18 months since the implementation of the new minimum wage by the Federal Government; adding that they had not received anything from the state government.
“We thought the state government will do the needful but to our surprise the government is yet to commence the implementation of minimum wage.
“Other workers in the state have started receiving their minimum wages, yet we are all working for the same state.
“We are still getting the same salary as when a bag of rice was N7,000; and a dollar was N169 to a dollar.
“This is not just or fair, we want everybody to know that we have tried and waited long enough for the state government to implement the minimum wage,” he said.
Oseni added that it was the hard work and commitment of staff, which made LASU one of the best universities in the nation, adding that government needed to compensate them.
“The problem is not with our management but our government. The government needs to rise up and do the needful,” the SSANU chairman said.
Mr Moruf Sanni, Chairman, NASU, LASU chapter, threatened that even, if the staff and students stayed outside the school gate till the next day, they would not allow anybody to enter into the school premises.
Sanni said that government did not appreciate their services and work so they needed to acknowledge government’s actions with corresponding action of their own.
The Vice-Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun (SAN), in his remarks said that the issue would be resolved.
Fagbohun said that every state in the country was challenged due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which had affected a lot of things, especially, the state’s finances.
“We will continue to dialogue with the unions until we are able to have an amicable resolution.
“We assure our students that there will not be any problem regarding resumption, LASU has resumed academic activities but we will resolve every issue with the unions,” the Vice-Chancellor said.
Abdulbasit Ashade, President of Lagos State Students Union, said that the management and unions had been sacrificing a lot in order for the students to be able to resume peacefully.
Ashade said that it was unfortunate that students got to the campus gate this morning to find that the unions were refusing students, staff and management access into the institution.
“We hope they will allow the students to have access to school because they should realise that students have stayed long enough in their homes.
“We need to start lectures and write our examinations very soon.
“We want the government to attend to the unions. Since the state government had implemented the new minimum wage for other categories of workers, they should also do the same in all tertiary institutions in the state,” he said.