The meeting to restore industrial Harmony between the Federal Government and the Academic Staffs Union of Universities has officially ended with no agreement reached.
The meeting, which began at around 1:00pm in the Minister’s Conference Room, has concluded.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities emphasized during the conference that it will continue its strike until the Federal Government met all previous demands.
However, the Federal Government hopes the current strike will be called off shortly, stating that it was caught aback by the second walkout initiated by university instructors on February 14, 2022.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated during Tuesday’s resumed conciliation meeting with the union that government was surprised ASUU rejected the understanding and assurances it provided through the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Supo Ayokunle.
According to the Minister, who was in Botswana for the African Regional Labour Administrative Centre’s (ARLAC) conference at the time ASUU initiated strike action, he believed the university instructors and their employer, the Ministry of Education, would address the areas of contention within days.
“I had hoped that ASUU and the Ministry of Education would settle the concerns, which are presumably not significant enough to require industrial action. To my amazement, I returned and saw that the strike had continued. Whatever the case may be, my Ministry’s responsibility is to apprehend industrial conflicts wherever they occur, and we have apprehended this one.
” As a result of today’s dialogue, ASUU will understand that the government wishes no harm. This is because, even if there are still gaps in the agreement’s execution, they are not sufficient to justify industrial action. To that extent, we must make every effort to address this.
However, I must inform you that the administration was caught aback by the fact that NIREC had previously met with you (ASUU) and reported to the President. We truly hope that after meeting with you (ASUU) and providing information of their meeting with you, we would refrain from taking this road of industrial action in the future. Thus, the government is taken aback—the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and everyone else is taken aback.”
Ngige, on the other hand, stated that his ministry had comprehended the strike and that the continuing mediation process would pave the way for an extended meeting that would include NIREC.
“It is my job to apprehend industrial issues, and this one has been apprehended so that we may discuss and, if necessary, extend to a tripartite plus meeting comprising members of NIREC who are senior religious and traditional rulers.” And that is as soon as we are through here and have reached an agreement on topics.”
The minister expressed confidence that the strike will be called off in the near future, allowing students to return to class.
“The strike should not be limited to one month. Indeed, in labor, there is no such thing as a one-month strike or a warning strike. The strike is the strike. We want this to stop as soon as possible while we iron out any remaining ambiguities in the agreement, as the ILO Principles At Work permit revision of Collective Bargaining Agreements. As a result, we return to the draft agreement. We must avoid another circumstance in which our children suffer the weight of a conflict between two elephants,” he continued.