Unions Directors Flags Fresh Conditions Of Service

Directors of Research Institutes have taken a decisive step to resolve the incessant agitations in the Institutions by signing the Revised Schemes and Conditions of Service for Research and Development Institutes, Colleges, Agencies and Allied Institutions.

Recall that the unions have been agitating for a new condition of service since 2008. This has led to continuous strikes which almost crippled research institutions in Nigeria.

The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) and the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), on February 4,2013, ordered members to stop work and press home demands that the federal government implement the agreement it signed with the unions in August 2012.

The unions however called off the 12 weeks strike in May, 2013, after a promise by the government that their demands will be implemented.

The outstanding issues which the federal government has refused to implement includes the nonpayment of outstanding 12 months arrears of Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure (CONRAISS); non implementation of the retirement age of 65 years; demand for the withdrawal of circular on skipping of CONTISS 10; payment of peculiar/earned allowances; establishment of a central body for the effective co-ordination of research activities in the Research Institutes to be known as National Research Institute Commission (NARICOM); increased funding of research institutes and approval of the review conditions of service.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the stakeholders committee chaired by the Chairman, Committee of Directors of Research Institutes (CODRI), Prof. Peter Onwualu, said the revised document was a great milestone that government decided to take a holistic look at the scheme and conditions of service of research institutes, so that all the problems can be addressed in one document with the hope of putting an end to the incessant strikes and agitations in the institutes.

Onwualu said, “This is a great milestone but it is not the end of the process because this document , the revised scheme and conditions of service, will now be forwarded to the Head of Service and the Minister of Labour and Productivity. They are the principal actors in this process. I believe they will also set up a smaller committee to now look at the content of the revision to look at how these will pair out with respect to other sectors of the economy. If they agree with the recommendations, then it will be forwarded to the president and then if the president approves, then this scheme becomes effective.

He said the signing of the new scheme implies that all the agitations by the unions will now be settled. “We hope that at the end of the day this will bring peace and harmony within the research institute sector,” he said.

“The benefit of this is that we will now have staff working without complaints which will lead to improved service delivery. This will mean that the research institutes will be better positioned to deliver on their mandates of using research to develop the economy,” he added.

In his remarks, the Secretary General of ASURI, Dr. Theo Ndubuaku, who signed the document on behalf of his union, said the revised scheme and conditions of service will promote expertise and tackle brain drain.

He said, “We had a system that is running down because the welfare of the main line actors In the research institutes have not been properly taken care of and this led to a high level of brain drain because people were not getting what they expect to get. This is why they leave once they see better conditions of service.

“The research institutes have mandates so they are like specialized institutions. They concentrate on particular mandate which leads to specialization while universities don’t have mandates. So, when you employ a research scientist, you train him and he acquires experience and maybe after 10/15 years, he’s already specialized in a particular field. That is when his best is supposed to come out. That is when he gets discouraged and disgruntled and goes to the university. When this happens, you lose that expertise. You’ll have to take another 10/15 years to train another scientist to the level of expertise the former person had.

“This leads to wastage but now we have packaged a document that’ll make people sit on their posts. We have a document they can depend on.”

In his remarks, the Senior Deputy General Secretary, NASU, Mr. Emma Okonkwo, expressed satisfaction with the new scheme and condition of service even as he called on the government to fast track the final draft.

Oknokwo said, “We are happy that the condition of service has been signed at last because this issue started about seven years ago. We pray that government will fast track the final draft and give approval for the implementation. This will go a long way to resolve most of the problems we are currently facing in the research institutes, particularly the issue of retirement age.”

Source:Leadership News

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