The Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) of University of Benin is set to start a work-to-rule action with effect from today over non-payment of full salary for the month of February.
It was gathered that the Union had at the end of its last congress, issued a one-week ultimatum to management demanding the full payment of February salary, outstanding allowances as well as resolving issue of ‘over taxation’ which the Union alleged had made its members the lowest paid among university lecturers in the country.
The ultimatum was said to have expired last Friday without an agreement between ASUU and the university management.
It was said that the inability of the university to pay full salaries regularly to its workforce was caused partly by alleged recent over-employment of staff. A source alleged that the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Osayuki Oshodin, inherited a staff strength of about 2,500 but at the end of his tenure the figure rose to 6,800 while the current Vice Chancellor Prof. Faraday Oruwense further increased the staff strength to about 8,000.
It was further gathered that though the federal government had released money for the payment of February staff salaries since February 20th, the amount could only pay 70 percent of the staff.
But the University in a circular issued to staff by its Registrar, O.A Oshodin (Mrs.), dated March 10, 2017, denied that overstaffing was responsible for its inability to pay salaries, but attributed it to shortfalls in release of funds from the federal government.
“For February 2017, there was a shortfall of N177 million in the payment of salaries. The four unions met with management and three agreed, except ASUU, that 19.5 percent reduction in salaries be effected to accommodate all staff, otherwise 1,006 members of staff would not have been paid their February 2017 salaries”, the circular said.
It further stressed that the issue was not ‘overstaffing’, that nobody was employed since October 2015 and that management had been paying salaries in full since then until January 2017.