By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
The Cross River State University of Technology, CRUTECH, branch of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, on Wenesday in Calabar led its members to protest the non-payment of three months backlog of salary arrears, demanding the removal of the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Austen Anbagh.
The protesting NASU members carried placards with inscriptions such as: ‘Pay Us Our Three Months Salary Arrears,’ ‘We Have Become Frustrated Because of Non-Payment of Our Three Months’ Salary,’ and demanded that the arrears be paid up to date if the management of the institution is interested in making peace.
Speaking on the issue, the CRUTECH NASU Chairman, Mr. Odidi Williams, who spoke about the protest, which did not record any damage of school property, stressed that the protest is a peaceful one organised by NASU members to express their anger.
Odidi spoke shortly after arising from the union congress, which was held at the school’s New Cafeteria, stating that union members were angry that they are still being owed, despite messages to management of the institution concerning the hard times faced by members.
Members of the union who spoke on the issue demanded at least payment of two months’ salaries out of what was owed, so that they can fend for themselves and their families.
The NASU Chairman maintained that the union has already taken a particular date that if nothing is done to salvage the situation, its members would still be called out to protest.
He said, “This is April and we are yet to be paid the arrears of three months salary, plus March, and if we are not paid before April elapses it means government would have been owing us for five months.
“The VC has tried his best, but unfortunately his best isn’t good enough.”
However when the protesters marched to the administive block, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, DVC, Academic, Prof. Joy Etiewo, and Deputy Vice Chancellor, DVC, Administion, Prof. Ekeng Ekefre, who addressed the protesting NASU members on behalf of authority of the institution appealed for calm, stressing that the message would be conveyed to appropriate authority for response.
But the institution’s VC, Prof. Austen Anbagh, who spoke with our correspondent in a telephone conversation on the issue stressed that the institution’s management was doing everything humanly possible to ensure that all the backlogs of arrears of salaries owed are cleared.
Prof. Ambagh called for calm, stressing that plans are under way to clear the debt, even if it is half of what was owed.
He said, “What they are talking is three months arrears, which amounts to about a billion naira. The school allocation per month is not up to five hundred million naira.
“We had a meeting with them on how the money can be paid, unfortunately the agreement that we had was renaged and they ran to the streets to carry placards to protest.
“This was part of the reasons why we didn’t want them to go on strike, this is part of the consequences of strike. No student paid school fees through out the strike period, this, to some extent, has affected our internally generated revenue.”