The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has revealed that the Federal Government may consider taking the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to the industrial court if the process to resolve the ongoing strike fails.
Chris Ngige Speaks On ASUU Strike
KanyiDaily recalls that ASUU had embarked on a warning strike since February 14, over the failure of the federal government to meet its demands.
Amid the strike, the government and the union have held a series of meetings, but no agreement has been reached by both sides on ending the strike.
Speaking during an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, Ngige warned ASUU against “intimidating” officials in the ministry of digital communications and economy and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) over the deployment of the University Transparency Account System (UTAS) proposed by the union.
The minister added that the federal government does not have the resources to review the salaries of varsity lecturers by 180 percent as contained in a previous proposal submitted when Munzali Jibril, a professor, was leading the renegotiation committee.
He said, “The solution is that number one, ASUU has to come down from its high horse. You cannot go and start intimidating people in NITDA and threatening the minister of digital economy and communications with revocation of his professorship; that he is a fake professor and that they did not approve it.
“They went to ABU and said they are going to withdraw the certificate of the director of NITDA. That is bullying. It is not allowed in labour negotiations.”
The minister also said the Nimi Briggs-led renegotiation committee has been given six weeks to submit its report, adding that the six-week period will end on Friday.
Ngige said he will invite parties involved in the matter for a meeting by next week.
Asked what will happen if the status quo remains after his intervention, the minister said the federal government will consider taking the union to the industrial court if reconciliation fails.
He said, “What is happening now is we have given the Nimi Briggs committee six weeks. We are waiting for their report. The minister of education has to transmit it and say this is what we have agreed.
“He will also transmit to the presidential committee on salaries. The six-week period ends this Friday and I’m calling everybody up by next week.
“The law says we can go to the industrial arbitration panel, which is where I’m supposed to refer this matter to if reconciliation fails, or national industrial court if reconciliation fails.
“It is a double-barrel thing. I will choose the one I want. I will refer. The law says once conciliation has started at my level, you call off the strike.”
KanyiDaily recalls that the ASUU had asked the federal government to take N200bn from the N4trillion budgeted for subsidy to address the challenges of its members, thereby putting an end to the industrial action embarked upon by the union.