In the middle of January 1983, all members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Nigeria went on strike because of the federal government’s failure to work on and implement the Onosode Report as it concerns those on levels 1 to 13 in the teaching hospitals, Research Institutes, and projects.
On September 21st, 1982, strike action was called off to allow the government some time to work on the recommendations and to implement what was arrived at. The deadline agreed upon for the implementation of the report was the 30th of December 1982 after which another strike action was to be embarked upon by members of NASU should the government fail to live up to expectations.
The relevant report agreed upon by the federal government and NASU on the 21st of September 1982 speaks thus:
- The union submitted to the Federal government a comprehensive document on
(a) proposed scales of pay for the Teaching Hospitals and the research Institutes respectively;
(b) proposed fringe benefits for the Teaching
Hospitals and Research Institutions respectively
(c) Union comment-observation on the Onosode Report /white paper;
(d) other relevant correspondences from the union to the federal government before the strike action.
- “The government side agreed to study the proposals from the union and to
(a) submit its own proposal to the union on or before Friday 8th October 1982;
(b) the NASU committee and the special Federal government committee headed by the Minister of State in the Presidency Chief Olu Awotesu would commence negotiation on areas of difference in both positions on Tuesday 12th October 1982;
(c) agreement reached by the negotiation team shall be binding and implemented without delay by the Federal government;
- On this accord or agreement, it is considered no longer necessary to continue the Industrial Action but to suspend it meanwhile to allow for an atmosphere of confidence and commitment by both sides – the union and the government”
The agreement was not kept on the government’s part and on the last day, December 30th, the NASU trade groups
had to embark on strike action. The result of this is that services were paralyzed in all these places.
On the 14th of January, the Secretariat of the NASU called its members to go on a sympathy strike to make the government feel more, about the impact of the strike action embarked upon by the NASU trade groups.
The NASU members agreed and issued a resolution thus:
- “Realising that Cabinet conclusion on “Onosode Report” was promised to be issued to the NASU on 30th December 1982;
- Observing that the federal government agreed with NASU that the effective date of implementation of the said cabinet conclusion shall be Ist January 1983;
- Noting that the federal government has failed to keep to the terms of the agreement it freely entered into thereby offending against ILO standards and conventions;
- Considering that the action of the Federal government is wilful and executed with pride and arrogance with set aim of abusing the dignity of labor, undermining the solidarity of the trade union, and calculated assault on NASU:
- Having determined that the action of the federal government in the circumstance is unprecedented in any democratic society where the rule of law takes precedence over brute force, naked rape of the rights and privileges of the working people;
- The Polytechnics, schools, and colleges, WAEC, and other trade groups, therefore, recommend total support for the ongoing industrial action of the university teaching Hospitals and Research Institutes and projects of NASU;
- Direct all NASU members in all! Polytechnics, Schools and colleges, WAEC, and others in Nigeria to commence a total Industrial Action on Tuesday 18th January 1983.
- Call on all workers not to report for duty from Tuesday 18th January 1983 to Tuesday 25th January 1983”
And on the 18th of January, the members of NASU went on strike over the question to which they are signatories.
This act by the federal government is not only limited to NASU, other unions of the working class, have in one way or the other, faced such damaging silence by the federal government or their employers.
One important message to be understood out of these is that workers should always and ever continue their struggle to the ultimate end dospite intimidations by any enemy of the the working class. With these, many people will know the extent to which they have advanced the struggle for sanity in their working conditions and build on these struggle for a better future, for the incoming people.
We members of HANKALI salute the struggle of the NASU workers, though it is still a continuous one.
Long live NASU.
Long live the working people of Nigeria!!