The striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma Chapter has asked its members to ignore a notice of resumption published by the new management of the University as contained in its News Bulletin, declaring that they would not resume on empty stomach.
In a press statement on Thursday titled ‘We Are Still Fully on Strike: The Resumption News Is a Hoax’, the Union insisted that “our ongoing strike to press for the payment of our unpaid salaries, check off dues, and other sundry deductions, is still fully on course”.
The University’s News Bulletin of Wednesday May 19, 2021, had fixed resumption of academic activities for Monday May, 24, 2021. But a statement signed by the Union’s chairman and secretary, Monday Lewis Igbafen, and Anthony Aizebioje-Coker respectively, described the announcement as “not only a hoax, but an affront to our legitimate Chapter”.
According to the Union, “More importantly, the said announcement smacks of insensitivity and total disregard for human dignity on the part of the new University Administration and State Government to the sufferings of the workers of the University who had not been paid salaries and entitlements for several months”.
Asking rhetorically “We, to resume work on empty stomach?”, ASUU AAU said “Members would recall the update and the unanimous resolution of our Tuesday 18th May, 2021 Congress meeting, which expressed dissatisfaction that there was no concrete commitment from the new University Administration and the State Government to address the demand on why we went on strike, namely the non-payment of unpaid 5-month salaries and the non-remittance of more-than-one year check-off dues and other sundry deductions from our salaries.
“As a result of the above, Congress unanimously resolved that the strike continues. What this means is that our salaries and other entitlements MUST be paid before any resumption of academic activities can make any meaning. To forcefully ask workers to resume work on empty stomach simply amounts to enslavement of our members. We are not slaves. Labourers deserve their wages. Members should, therefore, be ready to confront this seeming draconian dispensation in the University, which might resort to the old-fashioned tactic of repression by opening of register to break our ranks with the intention to compromise the ongoing strike action”.
The Union therefore directed its members not to sign any register or document of consent to resume “because that would not be in the best interest of all of us and the University”; not give in to any threat and intimidation “because that would enslave us as workers who do not deserve to earn salary/wage”; and to “resist and refuse to be swayed by any clannish, religious, political and primordial manoeuvrings because that would cheapen and portray us as academics/intellectuals/scholars who are irrational and not worth our onion”.
The local leadership of ASUU reminded its members that the sole reason for the ongoing strike action was “to press for the payment of our unpaid salaries, check-off dues, and other sundry deductions from our salaries” stressing that “We are not against or fighting the new Acting Vice-Chancellor, neither are we on war path with the State Government.
“Our demand and current strike is legitimate because we are covered by the Constitution and other relevant laws of our country to demand for our unpaid salaries/wages and other legitimate entitlements. Therefore, the current strike action continues until our unpaid salaries and other entitlements are paid”.