FG Drags ASUU to Court over Strike

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CEM REPORT | The Federal Government has filled a suit against the  Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over its prolonged strike action.

The suit filled before the National Industrial Court (NICN) was revealed in a statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations, Olajide Oshundun at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Oshundun said the Federal Government took the decision after its dialogue with the ASUU leadership failed.

He added that the referral instrument in the trade dispute between the federal government and ASUU dated September 8, 2022, was addressed to the Registrar of the Industrial Court and signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige

The federal government through the suit is requesting the court for an order directing the union to resume work while negotiations continue.

“Consequently, the Federal Government requested an order of the Court for ASUU members to resume work in their various universities while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the NICN in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (I) (b) of the TDA Cap T8. LFN 2004.”

The Federal Government in the suit wants the court to interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18 LFN 2004, especially as it applies to the cessation of the strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour and Employment and conciliation is ongoing.

It also wants the court to, “Interpret the provisions of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8. LFN 2004, titled “Special Provision with Respect to payment of wages during Strikes and Lock-outs,” specifically dealing with the rights of employees/workers during the period of any strike or lock-out. Can ASUU or any other union that embarked on strike be asking to be paid salaries even with clear provisions of the law?

“Determine whether ASUU members are entitled to emoluments or “strike pay” during their period of strike, which commenced on February 14, 2022, more so in view of our national law as provided in Section 43 of the TDA and the International Labour Principles on the right to strike as well as the decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association on the Subject.”

“Determine whether ASUU has the right to embark on strike over disputes as is the case in this instance by compelling the Federal Government to employ its own University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) in the payment of the wages of its members as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) universally used by the Federal Government in the nation for payment of wages of all her employees in the Federal Government Public Service of which university workers including ASUU members are part of or even where the government via NITDA subjected ASUU and their counterpart UPPPS university payment platform system software to integrity test (vulnerability and stress test) and they failed.”

“The Federal Government further asked the court to determine the extent of fulfillment of ASUU’s demands since the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) that the union signed with the government. The demands include the funding for revitalisation of public universities as per 2009 agreement, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) payments, state universities proliferation and constitution of visitation panels and release of white paper on the report of the visitation panels. The others are the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team for renegotiation of 2009 agreement, which was renegotiated 2013/2014, due for renegotiation 2018/2019 and the migration of ASUU members from IPPIS to its own UTAS, which is currently on test at NITDA.”

The others are the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team for renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, which was renegotiated in 2013/2014, due for renegotiation in 2018/2019 and the migration of ASUU members from IPPIS to its own UTAS, which is currently on test at NITDA.

The statement added that the matter has been scheduled for mention on Monday, 12 September.

Recall that ASUU embarked on an initial four weeks strike on 14 February, and has continued to extend it as talks with the government fail.

On 29 August, ASUU announced an indefinite extension of the strike, accusing the government of insincerity.

Unlike other university-based unions, ASUU refused the government’s plea to resume while the government worked on its demands.

The Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and other Associated Institutions (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have all suspended the strike but with ultimatum issued to the government to meet their requests.

Read full details of the strike and negotiations here.

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