Thursday, August 17, 2017 10:30 pm
Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has agreed to continue the renegotiation on the ongoing strike in universities nationwide called by the union within a week.
Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, who disclosed this at a reconciliation meeting with ASUU on Thursday in Abuja, appealed to the union to call off the strike.
It would be recalled that on Aug. 14, ASUU had commenced indefinite strike nationwide due to government’s failure to fulfill the 2009 Agreement made with the union.
According to Ngige, within the last 48 hours, government has been working through the Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, Attorney General of the Federation to resolve the issue.
“We have taken some positions which we have communicated to ASUU for them to take back to their members to see if that can be adequate enough for them to call off the strike.
“The major issue is that we want the strike called off so that our children in school can write their degree and promotion examinations.
“ASUU has graciously said they will come back to us on a date within the next one week. It will not be later than one week so that we can then take it from there,‘’ he said.
The minister also noted that some of the issues discussed were the ban of ASUU by the Kogi government, the strike, among other major issues.
Ngige said that there was no need to apportion blames because that would be prolonging resolution of the issues.
“Also, we don’t want to be legalistic because if we do, the strike should not have occurred without the mandatory notice as required by the Trade Dispute Act.
“This ministry is the only agency that has the mandate to resolve labour issues between employers and employees as per the Nigerian constitution.
“The issues are well known to all of us because they are a product of the 2009 agreement whose fallout was the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 with which government was supposed to release some funds,” he said.
Ngige, however, noted the fund has been released and was under-going forensic auditing.
He also decried some lapses in labour administration that made it impossible for some of the conditions not to have been fulfilled.
He added that Babalakin committee is working on those issues and I know that ASUU has well-informed men and are aware that ILO conventions permit that there should be renegotiation.
“That was why we allowed the Ministry of Education to go ahead with the renegotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement,’’ he said.
The ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi commended the minister for the reconciliation meeting, adding that the union leaders would have to report back to their members.
“Like the minister said, government has made some offers on the issues we have raised and we have taken copious note of their offers.
“We have to get back to our members and make all the information available for them to consider and advise us appropriately.
“We will come back to government hopefully within the next one week and we will come back and unveil all the issues as agreed on.
“It is only then that we can decide if to call off or continue with the strike,” he said.