The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has supported the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU)’s insistence on the payment of the withheld salaries of its members as a condition for ending its ongoing strike which entered 190th day today, August 23, 2022.
The ongoing ASUU strike began on February 14, 2022, with the union demanding the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Following a meeting with the union last week, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said every demand of the union has been met, except that its members won’t receive arrears of the strike period.
The union has also insisted on not calling off the lingering strike until the arrears are settled.
However, reacting to the development on Monday, August 22, 2023, NLC said it was unfair for the Federal Government to invoke a no-work, no pay rule on university teachers, who were not the architects of the lingering strike.
Urging the government to “tone down its rhetorics and be more accommodating”, the NLC warned that its threat to embark on a nationwide strike over the lockdown of the universities had not been ruled out.
Head of Information of the NLC, Benson Upah, disclosed the union’s position as students suggested Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as a way of ending the crises in the university system.
Upah, said the government should pay the six-month arrears so that the universities, which were shut down on February 14, could reopen.
“At a point, having come this far, the government is expected to tone down its rhetorics instead of ramping them up. The government is expected to be more accommodating than it is doing.
“We know that Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act provides that when there is strike action, there should be no payment in the period of the strike but it is not an absolute situation.
“When you have a condition precedent that makes necessary the happening or the execution of the sterile action, that provision cannot be invoked.
“ASUU members didn’t wake up one morning and said they were going on strike. The government voluntarily committed itself and reneged on those commitments and for a long time, ASUU members ‘said let us talk, let us negotiate’ and the government kept shifting the goalpost until we are now six months and counting only for the government to say it is going to invoke provisions of section 43 of the TDA. I don’t think that is fair.
“On the practical side of it, do you know that ASUU members have a backlog of activities to execute? If they resume today, there are a lot of activities that if they don’t do, we cannot have a smooth academic progression or activities. It is like coming to start on a clean slate. I don’t think that is fair enough.