Benue university lecturers begin indefinite strike

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, Benue State University chapter has begun an indefinite strike over the school management’s inability to keep to its agreements with the union.

This was contained in a statement issued by the union on Friday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

The statement was jointly signed by Comrade Kwaghfan Tarnongo, Chairperson, and Comrade Terrumun Gajir, Secretary.

The union, however, cleared the Benue State Government of any wrongdoing and commended it for the regular funding of the university.

It said that the national body of the union approved its request to embark on the indefinite strike, and it would continue until their demands were met.

The statement said: “The National body of the Academic Staff Union of Universities has approved the request by the BSU to resume the strike it suspended on June 26, 2023.

“The permission to proceed on this strike was formally communicated to members of the Branch on Thursday at an emergency congress.”

The union listed its demands to include the implementation and payment of accrued arrears of 2021, 2022 and 2023 promotions and annual incremental steps.

Others are April 2023 salary arrears, shortfall in the salaries of staff of the College of Health Sciences, payment of Earned Academic Allowance and payment of sundry allowances.

The demands also include the non-enrolment and implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme amongst other issues.

It said that management of BSU had refused to address the welfare concerns of the union after a series of engagements with it.

It added: “The most provocative of all is the tripartite agreement reached in January 2023 between the Benue Government, BSU management and the Governing Council and ASUU-BSU.

“This agreement which stipulated increased funding to the university to address the issues of promotion and annual increment is a road map to industrial harmony in BSU.

“The  state government has kept its part of the agreement and has continued to sustain the additional funds to the university for specific purposes.”

It alleged that the management of BSU administration had collected the additional funds from the government but refused to pay the staff their entitlements.

“This breach of the January 2023 agreement by the management of BSU led to the May 2023 strike by the branch,” it said.

It said that the union suspended the strike in June 2023 following assurances by the management of BSU to adhere to the January 2023 agreement.

The union said the university breached the agreement by failing to pay the arrears of annual increment, since it started collecting the funds from the state Government in January 2023.

NAN reports that the union was in disagreement with the university management in December 2023 for withholding their November salaries, over refusal to submit the 2020/2021 examination scores.

Speaking on the strike, a senior official of the university, who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, said the management would make a statement after their meeting.

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