Government has no intention to ignore the National Labour Commission (NLC) ruling between it and the Technical University Teachers Association, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) said on Wednesday.
The NCTE in a statement signed by Professor M. Salifu, the Executive Secretary, said that Government remained resolutely committed to the cause of the Technical Universities and the broader Technical and Vocational Education and Training reform agenda and would not do anything to undermine that.
“Finally, for avoidance of doubt, we want the rank and file of TUTAG members and the public to understand that Government remains resolutely committed to the cause of the Technical Universities and the broader Technical and Vocational Education and Training reform agenda and will not do anything that will undermine it,” it said.
The NCTE also was of the firm conviction that the ruling did not obviate the need for any required due diligence. .
The statement followed declaration of a strike action by the TUTAG to force government to implement the NLC Ruling based on an allegation that “Government had ignored the ruling and was using NCTE to put an impediment on the way of implementation.”
“This allegation is most unfortunate as it is far from the truth.
“To start with, we wish to make it categorically clear that neither the NCTE nor any member of the Government’s side that has been dealing with TUTAG on this whole issue of allowances, as far as we know, has ignored the NLR Ruling.
“To claim also that the NCTE is being used by Government to create impediments in the way of payment of the allowances is to attempt to smear Government’s unflinching commitment to the Technical Universities and also fail to appreciate the statutory role of the NCTE in such an exercise.”
According to the statement, at the heart of the current agitations were two sets of allowances such as ‘Responsibility and Entertainment for office holders and various others, including Vehicle Maintenance, Fuel, Rent and Owner-Occupier, among others for stated categories of staff.
“Under pressure to expedite action on the migration of Technical Universities onto the Public Universities Payroll, the Controller and Accountant General paid the Technical Universities salaries and Interim Market Premium at the rate approved for all public Universities, as the first step, at the end of September 2019, but effective August 2019, admittedly, without the allowances.”
Considering that both sets of allowances (for office holders and other staff) needed prior validation to confirm entitled beneficiaries as a requirement of due process, it was decided to tackle them in the next step, after demonstrating the commitment to-the full migration by paying the market premium.
The other reason was to enable the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to carry out an outstanding rationalization of the Responsibility and Entertainment Allowances for office holders across all public Universities.
“Unfortunately, notwithstanding the fact that the rationale for paying the salaries and Interim Market Premium first was known to TUTAG, they still declared strike action in protest on October 7, 2019,” the statement noted.
It added that the NCTE had stated and severally reiterated its resolve to ensure that the Technical Universities were set-up on the same quality standards as the traditional public Universities, albeit with a unique niche mandate.
It was on the basis of the desired equivalent standards that Government committed to extending same general conditions of service, including compensation to staff of the Technical Universities.
The statement noted that NCTE was happy to confirm that the payments to the validated office holders had since been duly made.
“Much earlier in August, and for the first time, Book and Research Allowances had also been paid to entitled TU staff at same rates for public Universities. The commitment of the Government side to the “parity of prestige” principle cannot therefore be faulted. The only caveat is that everything has to be subject to the required due process.”