Friday, September 30, 2022

FG Did Not Take ASUU To Court; The Union Should Forget 2009 Agreement And Focus On 2013 Memo – Ngige

Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, has stated that contrary to some claims, the Nigerian government did not file a lawsuit against the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the union’s protracted strike.

In a press release from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, Head of Press and Public Relations, quoted Ngige as saying that the minister would have failed in his duties if he hadn’t referred the case to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) after seven months of drawn-out discussions and negotiations with the union, which ended in failure.

The 2009 deal that ASUU is citing was renegotiated in 2013/2014 with the administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, the minister said, adding that it was “anathema” to utilize the 2009 agreement.

He recalled that he had already conciliated the dispute twice, first on February 22, one week after the strike had begun, and that some agreements had been reached.

“We have to counsel our brothers on negotiation. No negotiation is forced. You cannot say it is either you give me 200 per cent or I will continue my strike. There are laws guiding strikes. There are ILO principles on the right to strike. Nobody can take it away.

“But, there are things that follow it when you embark on strike as a worker and they are enshrined in the laws of our land. It is written in Trade Dispute Act. The ILO principles of strike talk about the right of a worker to withdraw services. There is also the right to picket. These are things that are done.

“Nigeria is respected in ILO. Some people said Federal Government took ASUU to court. No. I referred the matter after seven months of protracted discussions and negotiations that failed.
“Some people are saying 2009 agreement. The 2009 agreement has been renegotiated in 2013/2014 with the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. It is an anathema to use 2009 agreement.

“What is left is the renegotiation of their conditions of service, which is their right. It should be done but they are negotiating it under the principle of offer and acceptance and it broke down irretrievably there at the Federal Ministry of Education.

“That Kick-started Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act whereby the Minister of Labour and Employment, whoever it is, if you don’t transmit according to the dictates of Section 17, TDA, 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, you would have failed in your function. Therefore, I had to transmit.”

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