By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) on Tuesday, said that it will seek legal redress over the illegal withholding of its members legitimate salaries by the Federal Government.
CONUA made this known in a statement jointly signed by Dr. ‘Niyi Sunmonu Dr. Henri Oripeloye Dr. Ernest Nwoke, President National Secretary, and National Publicity Secretary respectively made available to journalists.
According to the statement, the Congress is disappointed with the Federal Government, especially the Ministry of Labour and Employment, over the non-payment of its members’ withheld salaries even when the government knew that the Union did not call for strike
action and its members were not involved in the strike action that lasted for eight months and which
shut down the university system nationwide.
The Congress stressed. ” CONUA formally made its non-involvement in the strike known to the Federal Government in a letter
addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment in April 2022″, adding, ” in the letter, we made it clear that because CONUA constituted a separate and independent Union in the University system, our members did not call for any strike”.
” This was followed by a Press Conference in Abuja on August 19,
2022 at which it was categorically stated that CONUA was not part of any ongoing strike, and that
the “No Work No Pay” principle ought not to apply to members of the Union”, it said.
The statement added, ” CONUA’s expectation is that, due to the express and categorical declaration, the government would seamlessly release our members’ outstanding salaries when it resumed the payment of salaries to all University Staff in October 2022″.
” But to our dismay, CONUA members were also paid pro-rata
salaries in complete disregard to the fact that we were indeed shut out of duties by the strike. Subsequently, we wrote to the Accountant-General of the Federatıon and the Ministry of Labour and Employment reminding them that it was an error to lump our members with those that declared and embarked on strike action. It was yet another shock for the outstanding backlog of salaries not to have been paid to our members along with the November 2022 salary’.
CONUA maintained, ” the non-payment of our withheld salaries contravenes Section 43 (1b) of the Trade Disputes Act CAP. T8, which states that “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remunerations for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment”.
” This provision is consistent with global best practices. From the foregoing and as a law abiding Union that pledged to do things differently, we have
resolved to seek legal redress of the illegal withholding of our legitimate salaries by taking the
matter to court in consonance with the rights enshrined in our laws”.