The Federal Government has appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to rescind its opposition to the registration of two new academic unions in the Nigerian public university system.
Sen. Chris Ngige, Ministerof Labour and Employment, made the call in a statement signed by Mr Olajide Oshundun, Head, Press and Public Relations, in the ministry on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the new unions are the Congress for Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).
NAN reports that CONUA and NAMDA received letters of recognition recently by the ministry in Abuja.
However, in a letter to Ngige, the President of NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba, demanded for the withdrawal of the letters issued to the unions, is on the grounds that their registration contravened the laws guiding trade unionism.
Ngige, in his reply, on Oct, 12, had appealed to NLC to allow the new unions to exist in the spirit of Freedom of Association.
The minister insisted that the Trade Dispute Act 2004 gives him the sole power to register new trade unions, either by registering a new union or regrouping existing ones.
He reiterated that the new unions were offshoots or by-products of regrouping and their applications were considered by two committees of his ministry.
He said that this was with the Registrar of Trade Unions participating when the first recommendation for approval was given in 2019, and again in 2022. He also said that CONUA and NAMDA were regrouped from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), for efficiency and effectiveness in the system.
The minister added that ,more importantly, to protect these groups of university teachers whose worldview differs from the restive parent union.
“Comrade President, do not unnecessarily oppose the registration of these new academic unions.
“Because with ASUU, they are all like seeds on the academic soil of Nigeria and which will grow into big trees we don’t know, but the one which her trees are not bearing good fruits, we already know.
“So, as an uncle of the unions, oppose none in the spirit of Freedom of Association, ’’he said.
He said that it should be noted that Section 3 (2) of the Trade Dispute Act, CAP T14 gives the Minister of Labour and Employment, the sole power to register new trade unions, either by registering new trade union or regrouping existing ones.
He added that the matter was a subject of litigation in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in most recent case which the President of the NLC failed to mention in his narration of court cases, “The case of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) and the regrouped Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN) from NUP where the Law on Regrouping of Trade Unions was extensively explored and ruled upon.
“Unlike the cases cited by the President of the NLC to misinform the general public and unfortunately lead astray his affiliate Trade Union – ASUU,’’he said.
Ngige recalled that the NICN in a Suit no.
2192019, buttressed its earlier ruling on the matter and which had stated inter alia that the power to register trade unions resides with the Minister of Labour and Employment.
He noted that the last segment of Section 3(2) does not refer to the regrouping of existing trade unions, hence, the differentiation within the section between registering a new trade union and regrouping existing ones.
According him, we note your reference to Section 5 of the same Act, which deals with the “Procedure on receipt of application for registration” of a Trade Union.
“Section 5(4) in Particular states that the Registrar shall not register a trade union if it appears to him that any existing trade union is sufficiently representative of the interests of the class of workers concerned-CONUA members were ostracised and de-unionised by ASUU.
“Do we as the “Competent Authority” on Labour matters, including trade union services, pay homage to ASUU and acquiesce to leaving a large segment of lecturers and academia un-unionised, without protection, without a voice, and without a right at work.
`Are these workers not covered by the same ILO Conventions nos.
87 & 97?
” On NAMDA, Ngige said that they are medical doctors lecturing in the universities were against the incessant prolonged and illegal strikes by ASUU.
“They said the strike had disrupted medical training and caused consequential damages to the educational system and by implication, the quantity and quality of future medical doctors and dentists in Nigeria.
“They have been teaching and some have graduated their students since the 8-month old strike by ASUU which commenced on Feb 14 2022. Universities of Maidugri, Bauchi and Sokoto medical teachers are indeed patriots.
“Moreover, their peculiar needs are quite different from the rest of ASUU members and they are often left out on welfare and career progression in the universities – the core functions of a registered trade union,’’he said.
Ngige therefore, said the NLC President to desist from using his position to deceive the general public by misguiding them with mal-citations of Labour Authorities.
He added that, if ASUU feels aggrieved, they could approach the Courts for Judicial remedy as law abiding citizens just like the Federal Government through Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment.
“That is by virtue of the powers conferred by Section 17 of the TDA, transmitted the trade dispute to the NICN for adjudication, due to refusal of the union to comply with the provisions of Section 18 of the TDA, conciliation having failed,’’he said.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has lauded Nigerians for their support in the negotiations leading to the end of strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Mr Olajide Oshundun, Deputy Director Press in the ministry, said this in a statement he signed on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the leadership of ASUU had earlier in the day suspended its eight months old strike.
Oshundun said Sen. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, had expressed gratitude to all well-meaning Nigerians who had participated in the various negotiations to ensure the strike was call off.
He said that with the steps the Federal Government is taking, Nigerian students will be saved the unpalatable experience of intermittent, prolonged industrial actions in future.
He also said “in a special way,” Ngige expressed gratitude to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and the leadership of the House of Representatives, revealing , “we particularly recognise the patriotic efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Supo Ayokunle.
He also commended all members of Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) and Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, whose wisdom and intervention raised a ray of hope while the strike was at infancy but for ASUU’s intransigence to negotiation.
“We were forced to migrate the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), created by the 1999 Constitution as amended, for the settlement of industrial disputes.
“This is because every channel of negotiation, including the tripartite plus, in which eminent Nigerians participated in, failed.
“We were left with no other option than to trigger Section 17 of the Trade Disputes Act .
CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, on dispute resolution mechanism in seeking the intervention of the National Industrial Court,’’ he said.
“Now, ASUU has decided to obey the judgment of the NICN by calling off the devastating action.
“We apologise to all students and parents, of which the minister is one, for this unduly prolonged strike, which is unwarranted ab initio,’’ he said.
He gave the assurance that with the decision, steps and measures being taken by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in repositioning higher education, a groundwork is being laid.
He added “we are confident that this will save Nigerians, this unpalatable experience of incessant strike in future.
“It is verily our hope that now that the strike has been called off, the National Industrial Court will deal with the substantive issues as contained in the referral letter by the minister.
“This is to ensure that justice is given to all parties, including ASUU and their employers – the Federal Ministry of Education which acts on behalf of the Federal Government,’’ he said.
He further noted that the Ministry of Labour and Employment will continue to cooperate with both parties in finding amicable solution to other issues not placed before the industrial court.
He said this will find a lasting solution to the instability in the university system,’’ he said.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), on Thursday, condemned the actions of the Imo Government and the Nigerian Police Force leading to the closure of the Owerri division of the National Industrial Court.
The NBA’s President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, and BOSAN’s Chairman, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, decried the role played by the state government and the police in the court shutdown.
The leadership of the two associations spoke separately in Abuja at the 20222023 Legal Year of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
Maikyau said the body condemned the act displayed by the state government in the strongest terms and aided by the police.
“It is sad to note that our colleagues who ought to know better were complicit in the shameless attempt at undermining the authority of the court.
“We must always remember that the rule of law is essential in the maintenance of a free, fair, and democratic society, and so there is need to respect and uphold the same,” Maikyau said.
Awomolo also decried the constant invasion of judges residences by agents of government.
“I am fanatic about respect for the judicial arm of government, and obedience to the rule of law, hence, my vehement opposition to the infamous invasion of the homes of our judges; the last being in Kano in September 2022.“This incidence was crude, clear impunity which must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet as one of those incidents.
“Somebody must be held responsible and suffer for the assault on the judiciary,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on June 3, four staff of the National Industrial Court, Owerri division, were attacked and whisked away by the anti-kidnap squad of the Nigerian police, while performing their duty, among other dramas that took place in the stateThe development led to the President of the NICN, Justice Benedict Kanyip directing immediate closure of that division.
NAN) The Federal Government has commended the National Industrial Court, in its handling of labour disputes.
The Attorney -General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami stated this on Wednesday, during the special court session to mark the court’s 20222023 legal year.
Malami, represented by the Head, Civil Appeals, Federal Ministry of Justice, Tijani Gazali, SAN, specifically mentioned the disputes between it and the National Association of Resident Doctors ( NARD) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The AGF noted that the court had on many occasions, saved the country from undue crisis through its deft handling of labour disputes.
On judges’ welfare, Malami argued that the government had done considerably well in that regard and challenged judicial stakeholders, particularly the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to lead the fight to ensure that state governments comply with constitutional provision grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.
“Speaking of the court’s pronouncements in recent times, particularly in the wake of industrial actions embarked upon by both the National Association of Resident Doctors and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, suffice to say, that indeed, the legal status of any strike action, let alone a protracted one, raises very crucial questions of law.
“The approach with which the judges of the National Industrial Court have dealt with the related issues, in making better provision for promoting harmonious relations between workers and their employers is quite laudable.
“Recall the court’s role in putting an end to the recent strike action embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors, wherein the learned trial judge ruled amongst others.
” That no amount money will be enough to compensate for the loss of lives that will be occasioned in the event that the strike is sustained any further.
“Sometimes, having to prioritise on the greater good, determining merit or otherwise, by focusing on outcomes and its impact on the greater number of people in ultimately stabilising agreements freely negotiated by employers and trade unions, is an even more unique and daunting task of the National Industrial Court.
“Also valiantly calling to bear the inviolable duty of the court, is your Lordships’ recent decision in the application for interlocutory order filed by the Federal Government in (Suit no: 2702022).
“For the industrial action to be halted, pending the determination of the substantive suit seeking the court’s inquiry and adjudication on the legality or otherwise of the ongoing prolonged strike action by the Associated Staff Union of Universities.
“Learned judge in fact, did well to consider the balance of convenience, in according utmost importance to the value of education vis-a-vis both the short and long term effects of its deprivation on the lives, values and wellbeing of students in public universities.
“We thank your Lordships for the well, considered decision to order the Academic Staff Union of Universities to return to lecture rooms, in the paramount interest of the education and tutelage for our teeming youths and in fact, in the overall, best interest of the nation,” Malami said.
Earlier, the president of the NICN, Justice Benedict Kanyip said the court had done well in the previous year.
He however expressed concern that the court’s arbitration mechanisms were not being utilised.
“From available record, between the third quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021, the court had 6,277 cases in its docket across the country with Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan leading in that order in terms of caseload.
“Of these cases, 1,700 were disposed of.
And between the third quarter of 2021 and second quarter of 2022 the court had 6,349 cases and disposed of 2,408 of those cases.
“I must state that Owerri and Makurdi divisions have joined in the divisions with over 500 cases in the docket.
” Kanyip also assured of the court’s commitment to the welfare of staff and judges of the court.
“The future of the court looks very bright.
We shall continue to strive to attain excellence by improving on the justice delivery mechanisms within the limits of law.
“We will continue to improve on the objectives of the court, by easy, affordable and quick dispensation of labour justice that meet global standards,” Kanyip said.
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), represented by Adegboyega Awomolo stated that from the statistics given, there was increase in cases filed in the court’s docket and the ones disposed of.
Also in his remark, Awomolo expressed that the recent timely interventions of the court in industrial disputes all over the country had justified the wisdom in creating the court as a specialised court.
He added that the court had continued to live up to its expectation through the timely dispensation of cases.
The president, NBA Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, in the same vein also commended the court in its speedy dispensation of cases.
” A case that was filed in March, 2020 during the lock down, yet trial went on and judgment was delivered in January 2021″.
He advised judges of other courts to emulate the NICN judges Maikyau also delved on the court posting of judgment on its portal to enable parties to enforce its order or file appeal.
The court has its 2022 legal year theme as: “Labour justice and socio-economic development” ( NAN)
Varsity education 62 years after independence: A chronicle of ASUU’s struggles Varsity education 62 years after independence: A chronicle of ASUU’s struggles By Joan Nwagwu In the past decades after independence, Nigeria’s public universities have suffered multiple disruptions in their activities due to strikes by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), a reincarnate of National Association of University Teachers (NAUT).
Since its formation in 1978, ASUU has grown in leaps and bounds, from five branches of NAUT to 92 ASUU branches, comprising federal and state universities nationwide.
But as ASUU grows so also has instability and academic disruption thickens in the public university system as it pushes for what it describes as improved working environment and members’ welfare.
In its early days, ASUU fiercely fought against any form of assault on academic freedom and government interference in the universities.
It fought against decaying infrastructure due to neglect and social services, as much as unpopular government policies and programmes, detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the citizens.
It was also at the forefront of the struggle against military rule and any form of re-colonisation of Nigeria.
However, close followers of the activities of this trade union say the trajectory of its struggles started to change around 1988. Notably, between 1988 and 1996, university lecturers embarked on five nationwide strikes in demand for better conditions of service.
In the course of those struggles, ASUU suffered two proscriptions under the military, and on each occasion, came back more resolute in pursuits of its aspirations.
After the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, ASUU became more restive.
Between 1999 and 2022, the union embarked on strike 16 times (the ongoing one inclusive).
Out of the 16 ASUU strikes, seven occurred under the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, while five each occurred under Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
The remaining four have so far taken place under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Two years after Buhari assumed office, in 2007 to be precise, ASUU embarked on a strike.
The union later embarked on a three-month strike in 2018 and a record nine months strike in 2020. The ongoing strike has so far lasted more than seven months.
It is important to point out that all the issues in dispute emanated from agreements signed between the union and previous governments, some dating back to 2009. The disputed issues include: the Revitalisation Funds, Earned Academic Earned Allowances, Renegotiation of the 2009 agreement on conditions of service of university workers, and appointment of visitation panels to the universities.
Others are: the establishment of University Transparency Account Solution (UTAS) as payment platform for university teachers.
With this, according to the union, salaries will not be paid through the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) approved by the government for Federal Government workers.
ASUU argues that the separate platform will accommodate peculiarities in lectures’ salaries and wages such as earned allowances and sabbaticals, which IPPIS does not recognise.
The Federal Government insists that it has religiously implemented everything contained in the 2020 agreement.
The federal government argues that paid N92b from the 2021 budget to cover the revitalisation funds and Earned Academic Earned Allowances for non-teaching staff.
According to the government, the issue of visitation panels to the universities had since been laid to rest, leaving only the issues of payment platform and the renegotiation of the conditions of service for university workers.
The union, however, differs, accusing the government of serially flouting Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).
Regarding the renegotiation of the conditions of service, in 2016-2017, the Federal Government appointed a committee headed by Wale Babalakin SAN, who was at that time the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, to handle the renegotiation.
ASUU protested against Babalakin’s appointment, prompting his replacement with Professor Jubril Munzali.
Munzali eventually proposed 200 per cent rise in emoluments of university workers, but the Federal Government rejected the proposal because of its huge financial implications.
The National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), in particular, said the proposal failed to comply with its template for wage increase.
When the tenure of the Munzali committee elapsed, the Federal Ministry of Education set up a new renegotiation team headed by Professor Nimi Briggs, giving the committee a three-month deadline to conclude its assignment.
The committee was yet to conclude its assignment when ASUU embarked on strike on Feb. 14 this year.
After two unsuccessful attempts at conciliation at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the President directed the Minister of Education to take over negotiations.
However, the discussion between ASUU and the Ministry of Education had since broken down irretrievably, forcing the Minister, Sen. Chris Ngige, to refer the dispute to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria ((NICN).
Ngige said he acted according to the powers given to him by Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
As Nigerian marches on as nation stakeholders in university education hope that the lingering conflicts between ASUU and the federal government will be permanently laid to rest.
(NANFeature) **If used please credit writer and News Agency of Nigeria
The Federal Government has cautioned the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over disobeying the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) to call off its ongoing strike.
Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, gave the advice in a statement signed by Mr Olajide Oshundun, the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, in the ministry on Sunday in Abuja.
“The union is dishonest and misleading its members and the general public, that it has filed an appeal as well has a stay of execution of the order of NICN on Sept. 2, though it has none of this.
“Rather, ASUU only filed an application for a permission to appeal the order.
It also attached to the application, a proposed notice of appeal which it intends to file if the leave to appeal is granted.
“The application for a stay of execution as of this moment has not even been listed for hearing.
Where then is ASUU coming from?
“It is therefore contemptuous, dishonest and misleading for the union to tell its members that it has not only appealed the interlocutory injunction by the NICN, directing it to call off strike and return to work, but that it also has a stay of execution,’’ he said.
Ngige therefore described the new directive by ASUU, exhorting its members to continue with the action as an unwarranted lawlessness, noting that “the Federal Government strongly frowns at this”.
The minister advised the striking lecturers to cease taking laws into its hands by directing its members to continue with the 8-month old strike.
According to him, this is in defiance of the interlocutory injunction by the NICN which restrained the union from further action.
He accused the leadership of the union of misinforming and misleading its members and warned of consequences of contempt of court order.
Ngige reiterated government call to the union to respect the court order and return to work, while negotiations are concluded on the remaining issues in contention.
The statement also denied reports that the minister walked out on the meeting between the House of Representatives and ASUU on Sept. 29. It said the minister left the meeting to attend to other pressing matters with the permission of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, after making his presentation.
It stated that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was earlier granted such permission by the Speaker.
The statement further recalled that at that meeting, Ngige addressed the two major issues over which ASUU is still on strike.
It said, according to the minister, “on renegotiation of salaries and wages of lecturers, I sympathise with ASUU just like other Nigerian workers.
“The economy is bad and hard time, biting hard on everybody.
ASUU deserves no blame.
“The Briggs Committee was the product of reconciliation of my ministry, which had to move to the ASUU’s direct employers – Ministry of Education for a Collective Bargaining Agreement, so we can arrive on what is good to be paid to ASUU, subject to approval by the President “The President has a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages chaired by the Minister of Finance, with myself as co-chair and other members – National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Budget Office, etc.
“Every MDA, whether drawing from the treasury or not, must pass through this committee on any issue concerning salaries for approval, before transmission to the President.
The report of the Briggs Committee did not unfortunately pass this route.
” It said that Ngige also revealed that when the issue of payment platform – UTAS – came up, he persuaded the President to “give the platform a trial in the spirit of Executive Order 3 and 4, and the SGF supported me”.
“If the system is good, we adopt it for the whole country, but meanwhile the hardware is not there.
How do you do it?
“The test – the three of them – IPPIS, UTAS, UPPPS – have failed the test.
Do you recommend something that has failed a test?
So, no matter how I love ASUU, I won’t support something that failed a test.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it is waiting for its lawyers for professional advice, following the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) order restraining it from continuing with strike.
The President of the Union, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.
The union had embarked on the industrial action to press home improved academic environment and welfare of members.
Some of the lecturers demands are funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
The strike has entered its seventh month the Federal Government instituted a suit before the court to halt it to enable students resume.
This followed the failure of government and the union to reach workable agreements.
However, students through the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) have embarked on protests by blocking entrance to the International Airport Lagos and have threatened to block other major roads, if the demands were not met by government.
The NICN granted the order pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court, at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, pursuant to his powers, as provided in Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act, 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Ruling on the application brought by the Federal Government, the , Justice Polycarp Hamman held that since the issues in dispute have been referred to the court, ordered ASUU (the defendants) not to take part in any further strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
According to Hamman, the argument of Femi Falana SAN, the counsel to the defendants that the act of the applicants had been concluded is of no moment and flies in the face of Exhibit 2 dated Aug. 29, 2022. Attached to the affidavit in support of the application where the defendants communicated to the Minister of Labour and Employment, their decision to rollover the strike to a comprehensive indefinite and total strike, beginning from 12.01 am on Aug. 29, 2022. Hamman noted that as the time of reading his ruling on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, the strike action embarked upon by the defendants on Feb. 14, 2022, had not ended.
He maintained that workers cannot go on strike when relevant sections of the TDA have been complied with by the Minister of Labour in conciliating a labour dispute.
He praised the minister for acting in national interest by referring the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
While noting that the balance of convenience is crucial to determining an application for interlocutory injunction, Hamman stated that the balance of convenience tilts in favour of the claimants who own the universities and taken into consideration the interest of the students, whose parents cannot afford private universities in Nigeria or abroad.
He insisted that the strike inflicted irreparable damage to public university education in the country, lamenting that university students have been out of school for eight months in a country where age is considered for employment and enrollment into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy and and paramilitary organisations.
Justice Hamman dismissed the claim by the defendants counsel that the strike was prompted by serial breach of agreement by the Federal Government, saying since the matter has been referred to the Industrial Court by the Minister of Labour and Employment, the defendants are mandated by the law not to engage in any further strike, pending the determination of the substantive matter.
He said: “Section 18 Subsection 1 of the TDA, 2004, connotes an obligation, which is mandatory and leaves no room for discretion.
“Section 18 (2) criminalises any contravention of 18(1) and imposes the fine of N100 or imprisonment for six months for an individual and N1000 for a corporate body.
“In this circumstance and on the strength of Section 254.6.(1) b of the constitution, Section 18(1) e of the TDA, Section 7(1) e, 16 and 19 b of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria Act 2006, I hold that this application is meritorious and same is hereby granted.
” Justice Hamman further held that the rephrase by Falana that the court should grant accelerated hearing of the application in place of injunctive relief “is of no moment”, going by the rules of the court.
He maintained that the applicants met the requirements for granting of an injunction, contrary fo the averments of Falana SAN.
Reacting inside the courtroom, lead counsel to the Federal Government, James U.
K. Igwe SAN, said: “I thank his Lordship for the ruling, rendered with unparalleled erudition, scholarly analysis and research and which took into cognisance of education as being basic to education in Nigeria.
The Federal Government says it will adjust workers salaries to meet the current realities in the economy of the country.
Sen. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment said this at the public presentation of the NLC of 40 publication titled, “Contemporary History of Working Class Struggles’’ on Monday in Abuja.
Ngige said that the Federal Government was very much aware that the N30,000 National Minimum Wage had depreciated.
“Yes the inflation has increased worldwide and it is not confined to Nigeria, that is why in many jurisdiction, it is an adjustment of wages right now.
“We as the Nigerian government, we shall adjust in confirmative with what is happening in wages.
“More importantly, the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act, right now has a clause for the review, which we started then, I do not know whether it is due next year or 2024. “But before then, the adjustment of wages will reflect what is happening in the economy,just as government has started the adjustment with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ‘’he said.
The minister also explained that the Federal Government did not take ASUU to court over the prolonged strike of the union as some people claimed.
Ngige said he would have failed in his duties if he did not refer the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) after seven months of protracted discussions and negotiations with the union, which failed.
He recalled that ASUU was at the stage of Collective Bargaining(CBA) negotiation with their employers, the Federal Ministry of Education when they embarked on strike.
He regretted that the ASUU leadership did not even understand the import of CBA negotiation because they lacked the nutrients of labour unionism.
According to him, we have to counsel our brothers on negotiation.
No negotiation is forced.
You cannot say it is either you give me 200 per cent or I will continue my strike.
“There are laws guiding strike.
There are ILO principles on right to strike.
Nobody can take it away.
”But, there are things that follow it when you embark on strike as a worker and they are enshrined in the laws of our land.
“It is written in Trade Dispute Act. The ILO principles of strike talks about the right of a worker to withdraw services.
There is also right to picket.
These are things that are done.
”Nigeria is respected in ILO.
Some people said Federal Government took ASUU to court.
No. I referred the matter after seven months of protracted discussions and negotiations that failed, ’’he said.
Ngige recalled that he conciliated the dispute twice, first on Feb. 22, one week after the commencement of the strike and some agreements were reached, and he brought everybody back on March 1 for another conciliation.
He added that the only thing left was going back to the Federal Ministry of Education for the renegotiation of the 2013 agreement.
“Some people are saying 2009 agreement.
The 2009 agreement has been renegotiated in 20132014 with the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It is an anathema to use 2009 agreement.
“What is left is the renegotiation of their conditions of service, which is their right.
It should be done but they are negotiating it under the principle of offer and acceptance and it broke down irretrievably there at the Federal Ministry of Education.
“That kick-started Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act whereby the Minister of Labour and Employment, whoever it is, if you don’t transmit according to the dictates of Section 17, TDA, 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
“This means you would have failed in your function.
Therefore, I had to transmit, ’’he said.
Ngige, however, said the transmission did not mean that the matter could not be settled out of court.
He said either of the parties involved; the Federal Ministry of Education and ASUU could approach the NICN for out of court settlement.
He maintained that Nigeria must be guided by laws and nobody should use the dispute to harass anybody.
“The pro-chancellors said they want to do counter offer.
I told them to do it as quickly as possible.
Those are ingredients of labour relations.
“It is not enough if you misinform your membership.
That should be a disservice.
We should read through things as it is and interpret same way.
If I leave them in education, they will stay there two years,’’Ngige said.
On the 40 years of NLC, Ngige said: “A fool at 40 is a fool forever.
A wiseman at 40 is a wise man forever.
NLC is a wise man forever.
NAN) The National Industrial Court is to deliver ruling in an application filled by the Federal Government’s application seeking the order of court to direct the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing strike.
Justice Polycarp Hamman adjourned the matter after listening to the arguments of the counsel on behalf of the parties.
U.K Igwe, SAN, counsel to FG in his submission had informed the court that the application for the injunction was dated Sept. 12 and filed same date.
He added that the application was brought in pursuant to the rules of the NICN 2017 proceeding.
Igwe further stated that it was predicated on 11 ground, supported by 21 paragraph affidavit deposed to Mr Okechukwu Wampa, a Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Labour and Employment , attached with three exhibits and an undertaking as to damages deposed to by Wampa.
He also urged the court to grant the prayer sought and proceeded to adopt in its entirety and totality the written address, adding that the claimants had met all the requirements to enable the court grant the injunction He cited that claimant’s action was not apprehensive and regarding damages, he said the lost time of seven months of the strike could not be regained.
He concluded by saying that going by the provision of section 18 (1) (e) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004, that a worker should not embark on strike when a matter is already before the court, urged the court to grant the injunction.
Mr Femi Falana SAN, counsel to the defendant stated that he had before the court a nine paragraph counter-affidavit filed on Sept. 16 deposed to by the president of ASUU He further submitted that attached to the affidavit was eight exhibits accompanied by a written address and proceeded to adopt same as their argument in opposition to the interlocutory injunction.
Falana in addition argued that the minister lacked the power to order the court in the referral to direct ASUU to call off its strike.
He averred further that once a referral was before a court, no party could go outside of it.
Falana in his argument also pointed out that the claimants did not follow due process in part 1 of TDA 2004 that stipulated that only an individual has the right to approach the court as a trade union will first need to go to Industrial Abitration Panel ( IAP), before coming to the court.
He said union can only approach the NICN to appeal the decision of IAP Falana also said that the letter that accompanied the referral had the name of the Attorney-Ggeneral as a party in the suit, but that however, the application filed before the court was without the name.
He also said that the referral asking for accelerated hearing was not necessary as there was not urgency in the matter as the strike had lasted for seven months He also submitted that the balance of convenience was not on the side of the claimants and that the conducts of the claimants in the prayer for the court to interpret the 2009 Agreement should be discountenanced.
He finally urged the court to dismiss the application or direct parties to the IAP.
Igwe in response submitted that the minister did not order the court and that the letter attached to the referral was not a legal document as the notice if referral superceded the letter The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that earlier the court had ruled in favour of the claimants when Falana had argued that the defendant’s preliminary objection on jurisdiction of the court should be taken before any other application However, Igwe had argued that the court in its decision on Sept.16 slated Monday for hearing.
Igwe in addition stated that the defendant’s objection will not be prejudiced as it can be adopted and taken with the substantive at a later date.
He also argued that the preliminary objection was not ripe for hearing as it was just served on him about 14 minutes before the proceeding was f the day.
The court had upheld Igwe’s argument and directed counsel to proceed with the interlocutory injunction’ application and the counter-affidavit to same.
NAN also reports that the Minister of Labour and Employment on behalf of the Federal Government had filed the matter before the court by way of referral to resolve the issue of the ongoing strike by ASUU nanews.
Some parents in the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) have expressed mixed reactions as the Federal Government referred the dispute with the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria(NICN).
Some parents who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday said that it was unnecessary for the Federal Government to raise a referral instrument to the NICN to settle the trade dispute, while others also blamed ASUU for the prolonged strike.
NAN reports that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, had in a letter addressed to the Registrar of NICN, called for a referral instrument following the failure of dialogue between the union and the Federal Ministry of Education.
The court is to inquire into the legality or otherwise of the ongoing prolonged strike by ASUU leadership and members that had continued even after apprehension.
Mr Mark Yohanna said, ”taking ASUU to court was a waste of time at this point the industrial court had been there, why didn’t they think of it since the beginning of the strike which had lingered for seven months.
“The issues that needed to be addressed are well spelt out by the striking lecturers before they can call off their strike, then why take them to court.
“ I do not think the industrial court will address those issues, except the Federal Government will comply with the agreement entered with ASUU.
“I want to say that the government is playing with time and the future of the Nigerian children which are their responsibility to charter for their interest and welfare, ‘’he said.
Mr Emmanuel Ejike, another parent, said that it was unfortunate that the children of the poor had lost an academic session due to the ongoing strike.
He said that the victims of such strikes were the students and their parents, while the students’ programmes would be extended, parents have been put under pressure and confusion.
“So, for me, this going to industrial court is neither here nor there, because I do not know what the aim is or what it intends to achieve, “If their intention is to order ASUU to stop the strike, then the Federal Government would have done it earlier, is it even possible that whatever the court is going to say, the union will abide by it.
“By going to court, I think the government wants to use it to buy time, because people are not sure if the government is ready to address the issues and ASUU wants the government to be honest about them, ‘’he said.
He urged that the Federal Government should find an honest way to stop the strike rather than going to court.
Mrs Kemi Olusola, a parent, said that referring the trade dispute with ASUU to court by the Federal Government would compound the problem.
According to her, ASUU itself has said that if the Federal Government wants to resolve the issues within a day, that they have the capacity to do so.
“If government feels that the education of the Nigerian children of poor parents is paramount and important to them.
”If they believe that human capital development is critical to the development of the nation, they should do whatever it takes to resolve the issues soonest.
“ASUU is saying that they have not fulfilled the promises that they made so they cannot call off the strike until they see genuine commitment “I think the government should try and see it from ASUU’s point of view, because they want to save the university system in this country, ”’she said.
Olusola said that no Nigerian university ranks among the first one thousand Universities in the whole.
She added, ” this should be a great concern to the Federal Government, because in the past, the public Universities do compete in the international space and also ranked very high.
” Also, Mrs Elizabeth Olajide, another parent, said it was commendable that the Federal Government had taken the striking lectures to court and that probably would make the issues resolved speedily.
According to Olajide, ”our children have lost one year and they should not lose the second one, because the children are tired of staying at home and they are angry and almost frustrated.
“So, I think that going to this court will achieve meaningful purpose, I hope the court will find a proper way of dealing with the matter, so that everyone can have rest of mind, “That is both the students, parents and the teachers themselves, ‘’she said.
Mr John Osita, another parent, said that the strike was long overdue and that the Federal Government’s move was laudable.
“I am very happy with the government for finally taking such a decision, I am such that I think the court will do justice to the issues in contention.
“I am pained about this whole prolong strike and I pray that the court will resolve the dispute between the parties as quickly as possible, ”he said.