*Wants lecturers to embrace dialogue
*Says strike notice did not follow due process
*UNILAG ASUU invade, disrupts ongoing research fair
The Federal Government has urged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its ongoing strike in the universities in the interest of the nation.
Recall that the national leadership of ASUU on Monday ordered members of the union to proceed on an indefinite strike over welfare demands and Federal Government’s indifference to negotiated agreements.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, who made the appeal on Tuesday in a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press in the Ministry, Samuel Olowookere, said there was an ongoing renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU by the Babalakin Committee which the Federal Government set up on Monday, February 13, 2017, and which is already addressing the issues raised by ASUU.
According to the statement, though the Federal Government did not wish to apportion blame, “it is important to note that ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action as it did not give the Federal Government, the mandatory 15 days’ notice as contained in the Section 41 of Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, 2004. In fact, it was on Monday 14th August, 2017 that the Office of the Minister received a letter dated 13th August, 2017 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it commenced the strike.”
It further noted that the letter was to inform the Federal Government that ASUU has started strike and not a declaration of intention to go on strike as contained in the Trade Dispute Act, 2004.
The Minister further said that since the case was being conciliated, it was against the spirit of Social Dialogue and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for ASUU to embark on strike as enunciated in the ILO Convention.
“The Federal Government therefore wishes to appeal to ASUU to consider students who are currently writing degree and promotion examinations, call off the strike and return to the negotiation table, adding that “the Ministry of Labour and Employment will ensure that a time frame will be tied to negotiation this time around.”
Sen. Ngige added that “Babalakin Committee was ever ready to continue the negotiation, indeed, has all the necessary ingredients for fruitful social dialogue as well as adequate powers to negotiate and make recommendations to the federal government.”
Meanwhile, a mild drama occurred on Tuesday shortly after Senator Oluremi Tinubu who was the guest lecturer at the 12th UNILAG Annual Research Conference and Fair held at the Jelili Omotola Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka delivered her speech and left the hall, as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) led by the chairman of UNILAG chapter, Comrade Adelaja Odukoya, chanting aluta songs, gained access into the hall to send people out.
This development followed the union’s congress held simultaneously across all public universities in the nation where it was decided that all universities should fully join the strike. The members forcefully gained entrance into the hall where research and fair conference was holding and declare it closed, saying there is indefinite strike in which all universities must comply with.
The security at the gate on hearing their aluta songs quickly locked the gate to stop them from coming into the hall but unfortunately, they forcefully gained entrance and told people in the hall to leave and go home, insisting that ASUU has declared nationwide indefinite strike.
Addressing people in the hall, Comrade Odukoya said the lecturers and other staff of the institution have no business in participating in the conference, knowing well that the union at the national level had declared indefinite strike.
“We also care about the education of Nigerian youths but our union has declared strike in which we have to comply with. Federal Government since 2009 refused to implement our agreement. University of Lagos is trying to put things together but we have to join the strike.
“Therefore, by the power conferred on me as ASUU chairman of UNILAG chapter, I declare the conference closed”, he said.
The conference is expected to end on Thursday 17th of August 2017.
Earlier, the students had lecture in the morning before the conference started.
Reacting to this, the ASUU chairman of the institution said the strike began 12 noon on Tuesday immediately after the universities chapters of the union had their congress.
It would be recalled that the lecturers, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), announced their decision on Monday morning at a press conference in Abuja, to declare an indefinite strike as a result of government refusal to implement 2009 agreement signed by the federal government.
Idu Jude, Abuja and Esther Taiwo, Lagos