ASUU members have now voted to continue with their strike action with the move to an indefinite strike. This is an important turning point and the organisation of the strike needs to reflect this. We cannot afford to let the strike remain as a stay at home type – ASUU members need to reach out to explain the importance of their strike. We also need wider and sustained solidarity action from across the trade union movement to ensure a victory for ASUU and to secure the future of public education.
The NLC delivered on its promise to organise wonderful protests in every state capital. It also promised to organise a three day warning strike if the government did not implement its agreements with the tertiary education trade unions within two weeks. It was then promising to organise an indefinite general strike if the government still refused to act. We need to encourage the NLC to deliver on these promises.
The ASUU strike is over the refusal of the Federal Government to implement the Memorandum of Agreement it signed with ASUU at the end of the last strike in December 2020, after nine months. This included:
• Re-negotiation of the earlier 2009 Agreement
• Establishing visitation panels and publication of their results
• Replace Integrated Payment Payroll Information System (IPPIS) with UTAS
• Funding of University and Tertiary Education Sector
• Earned Allowances for both Academic and Non-Academic Staff of Nigeria’s Universities
• End the proliferation of state universities that cannot be funded.
These demands have not been met. Ministers came to the last meeting with a “take it or leave it” demand to return to work! The Government has yet to implement anything, at best they are only making promises to make payments next year. We can no longer trust Government promises. It never delivers on them.
We need ASUU branches and their members to brief their students, parents and the general public. Each ASUU branch should reach out to local trade union branches to offer speakers to explain the reasons for the strike to their members. In each university, ASUU should organise regular town hall meetings and other activities to gain support for the strike with fliers.
We need all trade union members and branches to support the ASUU strike. Trade union branches should organise general meetings of their members to allow ASUU to explain why they need solidarity. ASUU needs solidarity messages, support and action from local, state and national trade unions. We need calls from trade union branches to state and national trade unions and the NLC to organize the solidarity that is necessary for ASUU to be victorious.
The ASUU strike is vital for the future of public education and the relationship between the government and the trade unions. If ASUU is victorious, this success will set the tone for the funding of education by the next government. Privatisation and commercialisation of education mean that spending on education is now a significant part of every families expenditure. So the outcome of this strike will affect every family’s expenditure.
We know that the issues we face are far wider than just the terrible underfunding of education. We need an increase in the minimum wage and to stop increases in the cost of fuel, electricity and tuition fees. We also need to end the threats of “no work – no pay” policy. Striking ASUU members have not been paid since February. They must not be starved back to work!
The power and solidarity of the wider trade union movement can ensure victory for ASUU and better funding for education. This will give confidence to more people to vote next year for a government that we hope will begin to build a fairer society for us all and not just the corrupt elite.
ASUU members have now voted to extend their strike at great personal cost to themselves. We can all do something to assist them. We all have people that we can talk to about the strike and who we can give a copy of the above flier. If the strike is successful we will all benefit, so we need to do what we can to ensure that this success is achieved.
All members and supporters of Socialist Labour should try and talk to ASUU members and/or trade union officials and members. Those at work should try and talk to the secretary/chair of their trade union branch about the need for solidarity letters to be sent to ASUU and the national union. We can also visit our local trade union offices and/or visit the secretary/chair of the union of neighbouring workplaces.
We need to argue, as we did at our public meeting on Saturday, that an active strike with solidarity from the wider trade union movement is necessary for ASUU to be victorious.
Local trade union officials can arrange for letters of support to be sent to ASUU at the national level, to the local universities and copied to the national trade union and the NLC/TUC in the state. They could also arrange general meetings of their members to be briefed by ASUU members about the reasons for the strike and why victory is vital.