FUTA Staff School Staff demonstrate
by Muda Ogidan
The Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities commenced an indefinite strike on Christmas eve. This is to protest the looming sack of over 2,000 of its members in the Staff Schools across 30 federal universities in the country. The Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) won the infamous position of the first institution to start effecting this mass sack, disengaging 45 workers. FUTA SSANU immediately swung into action with a demonstration of hundreds of the branch’s members, a day before the national strike commenced.
According to Comrade Benedict Chukwudi, the FUTA SSANU Chair, “the plan to disengage some SSANU members in 30 federal universities started during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration”. The initial plan was shelved by the PDP-led federal government when SSANU threatened to resist and went to court. The APC government has now shown itself to be as bad, if not worse than the PDP with this anti-workers’ policy.
The current action of the government was initiated through a circular letter signed by one Mr E.O. Fayemi, a deputy director in the federal ministry of education, directing all universities to stop the payment of Universities Staff Primary Schools. In the circular letter which was transmitted to the universities by the National Universities Commission, the ministry claims that Staff Schools should be run with the school’s internally generated resources.
But, this is an attempt at casualising labour in the university communities. As Comrade Chukwudi further pointed out in the case of FUTA, “the sacked workers are staff of FUTA because the primary school where they work is just an organ that cannot employ workers”. And already, FUTA has advertised for applications to fill the “vacancies” created with the sack in the national dailies.
Universities are now meant to be empowered to set disparate terms and conditions of employment for the new persons they intend to employ after kicking out 2,000 workers into the raging sea of unemployment. This is despite the fact that a case challenging this policy is in court. It goes to show that the bosses’ governments respect their own courts only when it suits them.
It is only through ceaseless struggle that we can stop attacks against working class-people by the bosses and their state. SSANU must continue with this fight until victory is won. Education is a right and not a privilege. The Universities’ Staff Primary Schools are integral parts of the university system and should be so treated. Socialist Workers League supports SSANU in this struggle.
This policy should also not be seen as simply an attack against SSANU and its members. The Nigerian state is attempting to use divide and rule tactics to cower trade union vibrancy in the education sector. There is an urgent need for an alliance of trade unions in the sector to fight against policies such as this. The trade union movement as a whole, led by the NLC and TUC must take up the gauntlet of this struggle and ensure that this policy is rolled back.