The Federal Government has said that the ongoing indefinite strike action declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was declared in contravention of the Trade Dispute Act and the spirit of ILO Convention on collective bargaining, but appealed to the lecturers to suspend the action and return to the negotiating table.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said in a statement signed by the Deputy Director Press in the Ministry, Samuel Olowookere that issues raised by the union were already being addressed by the Wale Babalakin Committee set up to renegotiate the 2009 agreement between the government and the union.
The Minister assured the union that “the Ministry of Labour and Employment will ensure that a time frame will be tied to negotiation this time around.”
The Minister reminded the union that there was an on-going renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU by the Babalakin Committee which the Federal Government set up on Monday 13thFebruary 2017, and which is already addressing the issues raised by ASUU.
He said further while Government did not wish to apportion blame, “it is important to note that ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action as it did not give the Federal Government, the mandatory 15 days’ notice as contained in Section 41 of Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, 2004.”
“In fact, it was on Monday 14th August, 2017 that the Office of the Minister received a letter dated 13th August, 2017 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it commenced the strike”, adding that the letter from the union was merely to inform the Federal Government that ASUU has started the strike and not a declaration of intention to go on strike as contained in the Trade Dispute Act, 2004.
The Minister further said that since the case was being conciliated, it was against the spirit of social dialogue and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for ASUU to embark on strike as enunciated in the ILO Convention.
“The Federal Government therefore wishes to appeal to ASUU to consider students who are currently writing degree and promotion examinations, call off the strike and return to the negotiation table,” he said.
Ngige assured that “Babalakin Committee was ever ready to continue the negotiation, indeed, has all the necessary ingredients for fruitful social dialogue as well as adequate powers to negotiate and make recommendations to the Federal Government.”