With the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, protracted strike now in its seventh month, the Federal Government has taken the union before the National Industrial Court.
Olajide Oshundun, the Minister of Labour and Employment’s Director of Press and Public Relations, stated in a statement on Sunday that the Federal Government decided after talks with ASUU fell.
While the court is deciding the disputed matters, the government wants the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to return to work.
Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, signed the referral document dated September 8, 2022, and was sent to the Registrar of Industrial Court.
The Federal Government is seeking the court to assess whether or not the ASUU strike is valid when the matter is mentioned on Monday at 9 a.m.
The government further requests that the court interpret Section 18 LFN 2004 in its entirety, particularly regarding the suspension of the strike once the Minister of Labour and Employment has identified a trade dispute and conciliation has begun. Other requests made by the government to the court are:
“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 deals 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 requests that the court assess the scope of ASUU’s demands since the union and the government signed a Memorandum of Action (MOA) in 2020.
The requests include money for public university revitalisation in accordance with the 2009 agreement, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) payments, the expansion of state universities, the creation of visitation panels, and the publication of a white paper on the visitation panels’ report.
The other two are moving ASUU members from IPPIS to its UTAS, which is now being tested at NITDA, and reconstituting the government renegotiation team for renegotiating the 2009 agreement, which was renegotiated in 2013/2014 and is set for renegotiation in 2018/2019.