By Jethro Ibileke
The Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Thursday accused the University management of harassment and intimidation of leadership of staff Unions and disrespect of trade unionism.
Chairman of ASUU in the University, Dr. Monday Igbafen, in a statement made available to journalists in Benin, described as disturbing, alleged resurgence of act of intimidation of staff unions in the University.
He further alleged that the University management recently deployed a detachment of police to chase away Union (JAC) representatives, on grounds that they [Union representatives] harassed people at the school gate and prevented them from reporting for duty and even for essential services.
He noted that it is unjustifiable for the University administration to invite the police to harass representatives of staff unions in the institution who are enforcing the directive or resolution of their Unions, describing it as unfortunate event as unacceptable.
“This amounts to militarisation of affairs of the administration of the University,” Igbafen said.
He however noted that “it is an accepted fact that, it is wrong and illegal for representatives of any Union to harass people who are non-members at the gate and prevent them for reporting for duty.”
Reacting to the allegation, the University’s spokesman, Edward Aihevba, said ASUU and JAC have consistently been observed to be critical of the institution’s efforts for implementing government directives regarding staff report for duty during the lockdown.
According to Aihevba, staff on levels 1-12 in the civil service (1-11 in the University), are required to work from home, while other staff on levels 12 and above and those on essential services are required to report for work daily while maintaining social distancing and other preventive guidelines as spelt out by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on Covid-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The University spokesman while calling for caution, reminded the Union leaders that all disputes or grievances are usually resolved on negotiation table.
He however warned that the University would not tolerate harassment and prevention of people, including those on essential services, from reporting for duty by representatives of any Union.