Sequel to the ongoing warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday, February 28, 2022,
the Federal Government, yesterday, had shed light on its moves to settle the contending matters.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, after a meeting with ASUU in Abuja.
Ngige denounced the union for undertaking on the industrial action without credible information and persuaded the workers to suspend the warning strike.
According to him: “By Monday, we would have dealt with some of the issues and returned to them for further dialogue. We will meet with ASUU and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) again and we take it from there.”
Ngige, who argued that the strike is illegal, contended that the issues were already being addressed with the Federal Government.
He characterized the ongoing strike as a clear breach of the law, reinforcing that the union did not go through the normal process before embarking on the industrial action. He added that ASUU did not give the Federal Government the 14-day ultimatum for the strike as prescribed by law.
“I saw their letter in my office on February 18, which is last Friday and as you know, they started the action on Monday, February 14. So, it is a clear breach of labour laws, because there are violations.
“If you must notify us of an intending strike, you give us a minimum of 14 days notice. I pointed out to them that we are a country guided by laws and nobody is above the law. They should obey the law.” he said.
Ngige, who stressed that the Trade Disputes Act authorizes him to apprehend the strike and having done so, the industrial action should seize, revealed at last that the parties discussed all the five-point demands of the union and sorted out four of them with definite timelines for action.
Furthermore, he explained that the demands were not entirely new, but the Federal Government was already addressing the issues, adding: “That is why I said we are shocked that they declared the strike.
“The issues were discussed in November and December last year up to the time we paid N22.172 billion for the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), which they have received.
“The second area is the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, which focuses on conditions of service, with particular emphasis on salaries and allowances. I made it clear to them that there is a government process and that the Ministry of Education alone cannot increase their salaries.”