The four university-based unions have withdrawn their services as a result of some unresolved demands with the Federal Government.
In this interview, the Minister of Labour and Employment and Conciliator-in-Chief of the Federal Government, Senator Chris Ngige says that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has no business embarking on strike because government is working on their demands.He says the demand by the unions to review their condition of service is a genuine one and that something is being done. He speaks also on the University Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS.
Excerpts: You had a meeting with the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council over the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
How did the meeting go? I explained to them what had happened, where we are and that a lot of committees have been set up, working with education for them to get these things sorted out. And they have timelines, six weeks. So, ASUU has no business going on strike within that six weeks, they don’t have to. And by labour laws, once I am conciliating a matter, you don’t go on strike, you don’t continue with your strike. I have apprehended it, you know, so if they go on strike like that, they are forcing me to look at other areas of labour laws, because I cannot sit down as minister and a strike is going on and I am doing nothing. If I am unable to apprehend it, then I should send it to higher bodies, National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Do you think that their demands or agitations are wrong?What kind of question is that? Somebody says you should review his salary, how can it be a wrong demand? It is not a wrong demand by any standard anywhere in the world, it is not.
But you discuss with your employers, that is how it is; and then he will give you his books and every other thing. You look into the ability to pay. It is a part of Decent Work Agenda and International Labour Organisation, ILO Principles at Work.