Labour, ASUU disagree over legality of warning strike

The Ministry of Labour and the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), have disagreed over the legality of the ongoing strike.

Speaking at a meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, said the ministry has not received any notice of strike from ASUU.

He noted that the Trade Dispute Act requires that ASUU give 15 days notice before embarking on any strike, hence it is an illegal strike.

Mr Keyamo further stated that the government is not officially aware of the demands of ASUU.

However, according to Mr. Keyamo, the government has invited ASUU for negotiations later today (Thursday) and progress will be reported back to the Speaker after the meeting.

The Minister for State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who was present at the meeting aligned with Mr. Keyamo’s position.

Meanwhile, the National President of ASUU, Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi in his response says on February 7, 2019, a Memorandum of Action was signed between ASUU and FG.
He explained that on January 9, 2020, the union met with President Buhari and the ministries where he asked the ministers to look into the issues raised.

He said there had been meetings with the Minister of Education and ASUU had written to the Minister of Labour informing him of the strike.

According to Prof Ogunyemi, the 2009 agreement is the originating document and, till date, the agreement has not been met.

The union has also been at loggerheads with the government over the directive to members of ASUU to enroll in the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which the government made compulsory for all civil servants.

On IPPIS, Prof Ogunyemi said the government should not impose it on ASUU as it is not in line with the best global practices.

He said the IPPIS will further reduce the ranking of Nigerian universities.

The Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila after listening to all sides, frowned at the failure to keep agreements.

He blamed the government for failing to keep its end of the agreement.

On the IPPIS issue, Gbajabiamila told ASUU no one is above the law, even if that law isn’t favourable to the union.

He directed the House Chairman on Tertiary Education to attend the proposed meeting between ASUU and the ministries of Labour and Education scheduled to hold at 2 pm today (Thursday).

The Speaker pleaded with ASUU to call off the strike while the National Assembly deals with the issue in the coming weeks.

Prof. Ogunyemi, in his response to the request made by the Speaker to call off the strike, said he cannot decide to call off the strike on the spot, until the meeting scheduled for 2 pm, ends.

He noted that the 2009 agreement has a clause that allows for review in its agreement.

He questioned why the government has not called for a review instead of shutting out ASUU.

After further assurances from the Speaker, ASUU asked that the union be allowed till early next week to decide on calling off the warning strike.

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