The Union of University Academic Staff (ASUU) has begged the Nigerian federal government to give it more time to discuss the ongoing strike and therefore asked for a deadline of Wednesday to complete consultations with its chapters on its decision on the dispute with the federal government.

It was expected that ASUU would inform the federal government no later than last Friday of its decision to accept or reject its members’ proposals to end the nine-month-old labor dispute.

However, ASUU had asked for an extension of the deadline until Wednesday, as it was unable to arrange all the decisions of the sections by last Friday.

A source over the weekend said that the union had asked that the meeting with the federal government negotiating team scheduled for last Friday be postponed until Wednesday to allow the union to gather and analyze the positions of its branches nationwide.

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“The ASUU requested an extension of the deadline to allow it to conduct broader consultations with its members and obtain the positions of the different branches. They said they should be given until Wednesday to complete their consultations with members,” the source said.

At the last meeting with ASUU in November, the federal government had agreed to pay the lecturers who are not registered in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) the salary arrears from April to June via the old payment method as a measure of goodwill, pending support for the platform initiated by ASUU, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, reported on the government’s proposals to ASUU, but said the government had previously made a total offer of N 50 billion to ASUU, N 20 billion for revitalization and N 30 billion for earned allowances.

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Ngige explained that a new proposal had been made to increase the revitalization fund from N20 to N25 billion and to increase the earned allowances to N40 billion, making a total of N65 billion available for revitalization.

It was learned, however, that the ASUU had rejected the amount at its last meeting with the government side.

ASUU requested N 110 billion, i.e. 50 percent of a tranche of N 220 billion that it had previously requested, but the federal government rejected this amount, citing the shortage of funds.

Because of the disagreement, the federal government offered to increase the revitalization fund to N 40 billion, while the earned allowances for the unions would remain at N 30 billion.

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The government also assured the CDU/CSU that it would address the unresolved problems and set up a new renegotiation team to begin talks with ASUU on the 2009 agreement.

As a result of the federal government’s new proposal, ASUU decided to inform its bodies again and to give the government feedback last Friday on whether or not it accepted the conditions for ending the strike.

However, initial reports from the congresses held last week by the ASUU branches to approve the agreement showed a discrepancy of views.

While some accepted the government’s offer, most of them were told that before the strike was suspended they would demand full payment of their back pay by November.