By Michael Oche, Abuja
The federal government has urged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its on-going strike in the universities in the interest of the nation.
This is coming just as a meeting between the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU ) as part of move to end the strike action embarked by the Union ended in a deadlock.
A statement by the director of press at the ministry of Labour, Samuel Olowokere however said negotiations are expected to continue on Thursday.
The meeting held at the minister’s Conference Room at the ministry of Labour and Employment however took significant steps towards the resolution of the issues raised by ASUU.
Particularly, the meeting agreed on the forensic audit of the sum of N30 billion earlier given to ASUU in 2010 and further agreed on monthly remittances to ASUU, while the audit lasts.
Earlier, Ngige had appealed to the Union to end the industrial action.
In a statement signed by the deputy director of Press in the ministry, Olowookere, the minister said there was an on-going renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the federal government and ASUU by the Babalakin Committee which the federal government set up on Monday 13th February 2017.
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”, the minister added.
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.
Ngige said, “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.
“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”.
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