The National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike has threatened to proceed on civil disobediences and industrial action from the 7th February, 2020.
NAAT, made up of the University staff is demanding for the University management to clear its 54 months arrears of Occupational Hazard Allowance [OHA], which was interrupted since November 2015 by
the 4th Vice Chancellor Prof. Hilary Odo Edeoga.
Narrating the history of the allowances, NAAT in a Press Statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Ime Michael Okon and Obasi Richard U respectively, said that the Union at the National level in 2009 entered into agreement with Federal Government of Nigeria, and the Government approved the payment of ₦360,000.00 per annum (that is ₦30,000.00 monthly) as Occupational Hazard Allowance [OHA] due to the hazardous jobs done by members of NAAT in the laboratories.
The Statement, which was made available to Jungle Journalist Media Limited further read
“In February 2011, the 3rd Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike Abia State, Prof Ikenna Onyido [fas] implemented this agreement between NAAT and the FGN and paid arrears to 2009 and same continued running as part of the salary of members till five months before the end of the administration of the 4th Vice Chancellor Prof. Hilary Odo Edeoga precisely in November 2015, when the allowance was quarantined from our salaries without reasons or any memorandum for explanation wheresoever till this day”.
“Let me remind you that other universities borrowed a leaf from Umudike by coming here to take our payslip samples and theirs was implemented with arrears and they are still enjoying it till this day while Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike Abia State that set the pace suddenly reneged”.
The Union described the University management as insensitive to its staff, listing some of its negative qualities as ‘everything inhuman, everything negative, everything abnormal’, as other issues not resolved include “delayed promotion appraisal of which it’s arrears is not paid to staff victimization” and members promotions ‘hanging with moral justification’ .
On the efforts it has made to get the arrears paid, the Union said “we have written memo upon memo, we have taken this case to Alternative Dispute Resolution Center [ARDC] chaired by the wife of the Vice Chancellor on campus Barr. Mrs Bertha Nnenna Otunta, we have lobbied and also sought for the intervention the Governing Council led by H.E Alhaji Mohammed Zayyana, it might surprise you that all these failed as the University Management led by the Vice Chancellor Prof Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta sat on this Allowance, and we have no other option than our resolve to approach the Industrial Arbitration Panel of which it’s notice has been communicated to the management on the 22nd of January, 2020 with a three weeks grace period for the Management to restore this allowance and commence payment”.
The Management, through its Bursar had replied the Union in what they described as a political reply thus “I write to inform you that management will take action on the issue at stake”.
After receiving the vague response, NAAT had resolved to give its 7 day notice to strike, according to the statement.
It warned, “As a union, the only thing that will make us accept this letter and rescind in our proposed action is that the Management should tell us when and how this money will paid between the 7th of February, and the next 7days (14th February 2020). Failure to toe such path of commitment, the Union will direct her members to commence chains of actions of civil disobedience lined up against the management of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike Abia State, not minding it’s consequences as our members have run out of patience”.