Ondo Varsity Workers Protest Over Non-inclusion of Palliative Wage

Academic activities are grounded on Thursday at Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba, Akoko, Ondo State, as workers’ union of the school protested over failure of the state government to include them in the implementation of the palliative wage, designed to cushion effect of fuel subsidy removal for workers.

The workers’ union, under the auspices of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the university, lamented that the state government failed to include workers of the institution in the N35,000 palliative wage.

The leadership of JAC, which includes the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), said the workers had been excluded from the palliative wage, which commenced in November 2023.

The union said the peaceful protest was put together to appeal to the state government to include them in the payment of the palliative wage.

The Chairman of JAC, Tayo Ogungbeni, said the unions demanded to appeal to the state government not to deny them their rights to the payment of the wage award agreed by the federal and state governments in collaboration with labour unions for all workers in Nigeria.

Ogungbeni said all workers in Ondo State had been receiving the payment except tertiary institutions in the state, but noted that the institution was also left out

“We have started this protest since Tuesday all over the state tertiary institutions in Ondo State; they did it at Olusegun Agagu University in Okitipupa, the University of Medical Sciences in Ondo City, and Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba Akoko. We do not want our rights to be taken for granted.

“The federal government announced a palliative wage award of $35,000 for all workers in Nigeria. We are part of the general workforce; why is Ondo State excluding us? Why are they saying we do not qualify for this palliative payment? We are asking for that money now. We know our governor wants our welfare because everyone goes to the same market, and we also pay for the same fuel price. What we asked for is our right.

“The state government needs to increase the subsidy given to the university (AAUA); there should be immediate opening of the university main gate; payment of the entitlements of all re-absorbed staff; and payments of retirement benefits to our retired staff.

“The state government should include us in the palliative payment; we see the nonpayment as cheating; we are Ondo State workers.

“The information we are hearing on why they are not paying us is that they claimed that the tertiary institutions are autonomous, but talking about autonomy, there is no total autonomy when it comes to universities; the federal universities are paid; we used the same payment method; I see no reason why we should not be paid; the subvention we do receive is not up to what can cater for our needs.

“Before now, we have written to the Governor (Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa) about this development; we appealed to him to intervene; we did fix an appointment with him to table our grievances but to no avail; the protest was to call his attention to this.”

He, however, noted: “Immediately after the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria, the Federal government declared this palliative wage because the effect of this removal was too much on Nigerians; those in the federal institutions have received theirs; staff in the Ondo civil service have also been paid two months; but the state-owned institutions in Ondo State have not received any; we are left out, which is unfair.

“I will like to inform you that this is stage one of the action; we are going to go further concerning this issue if the government seems not to listen, then we go to the second stage of the action.”

However, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the school, Prof. Adebisi Adaramola, while addressing the protesting workers, said the university was aware of the development, disclosing that the management was making efforts to ensure inclusion and appealing to the union to exercise patience with the authorities.

“We understand that some workers have been paid in Ondo State, but the Staff of the University have not received theirs, We have tried to convince them that the state government has not sent this money, and we are making all necessary efforts to contact government,” he said