The Federal Government has dragged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (AUU) to the National Industrial Court over the union’s ongoing strike which is in its seventh month.
This was announced in a statement released by Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun.
The Ministry said the Federal Government took the decision after dialogue between it and ASUU failed.
In the referral instrument addressed to the Registrar of Industrial Court, dated September 8, 2022, and signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the federal government asked the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the court.
“Please find attached three original copies of a referral instrument regarding the trade dispute between the FG /federal ministry of education and ASUU for adjudication by the national industrial court of Nigeria.
“The referral instrument is raised in fine with powers vested on the honourable minister of labour and employment by trade dispute resolution mechanisms and the provision of Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act. CAP. T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004.
“In view of the fact that ASUU members have been on strike since February 14, 2222 and have refused to cull off the action despite apprehension of same, it would be appreciated if this dispute is given an accelerated hearing in order to bring the dispute to an end.”
The case is scheduled for mention at 9 am on Monday September 12, and the Federal Government is asking the court to determine whether the strike by ASUU is legal or not.
Other requests made by the federal government which asked 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, include;
“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 also wants the court to determine the extent of ASUU’s demand 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 the 2009 agreement, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) payments, state universities proliferation and constitution of visitation panels and release of a white paper on the report of the visitation panels.
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.