Over the years, society has more or less accepted as a norm the arbitrary interruption of the academic calendar in federal universities through strike actions by professors under the umbrella of the Union of Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU). In fact, it is rare to find a student who completed a college degree through a federal university on time without strikes, which has continued to affect victims in many ways. It could be said that the federal universities have been characterized by the strike: this characteristic is harmful, counterproductive and unacceptable.
There are numerous ways in which the strikes have negatively affected students, notably by depriving many of the opportunity to participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, considering that the set ’30 years’ is independent of circumstance. , be it delays in admission, strikes or other reasons. . NYSC only looks at the date of birth, and it is a wish of all young students to participate in the scheme.
The rent for off-campus accommodation paid by the students runs independently of the strike. Beyond this, many have ended up as deserters after some prolonged strike, particularly due to depression or distracted by one commitment or another. It also works terribly against young job seekers. For example, many have ended up graduating after the year stipulated by employers due to strikes. These show that defenseless students suffer terribly from strikes, and being a stratum of society, suffers ultimately.
Addressing this oversight has become urgent in view of the ongoing trauma faced by victims and society at large whenever strike action is imposed. Meritfully, National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) Judge PI Hamman on 21 September 2022 in a lawsuit between FGN/Minister of Education v Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) asserted that “the amount of damages caused to the nation’s education sector and public university students as a result of the strike is irreparable, and compensation cannot adequately address the loss.”
Naturally, whenever people or institutions coexist there will be conflicts, and that is why there are laws that regulate operations. Adding to the ugly situation, on November 16, 2022, Education Minister Adamu Adamu stressed that the government only pays for services rendered, so striking ASUU workers should not expect wages when off duty. against the rules of public service. Is the Federal Government right or wrong?
Firstly, ‘no work, no pay’ is a norm all over the world, in both the public and private sectors. And a monthly contribution is a combination of all allowances, such as transportation, housing, services, etc. So, if you are deliberately and illegally absent from service, is it justifiable, prudent to approve or receive, let’s split it up, allowances for services not rendered, transportation without movement, etc? The no work, no pay policy operates in all weathers… US, UK, Europe and Asia. In International Labor Organization (ILO) principles, while workers have the right to go on strike, it also supports employers to withhold payment of any wages or compensation to striking workers to prevent the company from going on strike. withered
In the Commercial Disputes Act Cap T8, Nigerian Federation Laws, 2004, which regulates all unions including ASUU, Section 43 makes a special provision regarding payment of wages during strikes and lockouts: (1 ) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Law or in any other law – (a) “when a worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any salary or other remuneration for the period of the strike, and said period shall not count for The effects of computing the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on the continuity of employment will be affected accordingly.
In the First Schedule (2) supra, “Essential services” is defined as “any service established, provided or maintained by the Government of the Federation or a state, by a local government council, or by any municipal or statutory authority, or by individuals. company.” This includes all unions approved by the government, including ASUU. In article 41, a 15-day notice is essential by workers in essential services before cessation of work.
Section 3 provides for the obligation to deposit collective agreements with the Minister of Labour. Subsection 1 establishes: “Where there is a collective agreement for the settlement of a labor dispute, the parties must deposit at least three copies of said agreement with the Minister: (a) in the case of a collective agreement entered into on or after the date of entry into force of this Law, within the thirty days following that; and (b) in the case of a collective agreement entered into on or after the effective date of this Law, within the term prescribed in the previous provisions of this subsection, shall be guilty of a crime…..”.
In addition, the Act in Section 8 empowers the Minister to appoint a conciliator for the purpose of settling the dispute, as well as authorizing in Section 17, for a direct referral to the National Industrial Court in a futile settlement. As a control, Section 6 provides for notification of the dispute if not amicably resolved after seven days to the Minister by either party in writing within three days after the end of the seven days for further specific action.
The aforementioned Section 17 states: “If in the case of any commercial dispute of which you have received a report under Section 6 of this Act, it appears to the Minister: (a) that the dispute is one to which the workers employed in any essential service they are having a party; or (b) – that in the circumstances of the case referral of the dispute to an arbitration tribunal would not be appropriate, then within seven days of receipt by him of a report under Section 8(5) of this Law, the Minister shall refer the conflict to the National Labor Court”.
In other words, these are statutory duties, and these laws are the responsibility of Dr. Chris Ngige as Minister of Labor and Employment. Unfortunately, his actions are apparently misinterpreted, leading the beleaguered teachers to demand his head. Legally, the word ‘shall’ has the connotation of ‘must’… therefore it is mandatory for the Minister to act accordingly, including referring him to the NICN.
Instructively, ASUU is a registered union and cannot be above the Law, so it should digest the Labor Laws rather than take personal statutory issues against a brainy Ngige in a bout. One can be a teacher in some disciplines but this is a question of Labor Conflicts, their Laws, applications and operations.
Onyema, LLM, a former student at the University of East London, wrote from Lagos.