By Ola Ajayi
PRESIDENT of the National Industrial Court, NIC, Abuja, Justice Babatunde Adejumo has called on all unions in the nationâ€™s universities to obey laid down regulations if they must go on strike to get their demands met.
He said this in Ibadan yesterday at a two-day workshop entitled â€œTowards achieving industrial harmony in Nigeria universities: The national Industrial Court approachâ€ organised by the NIC in collaboration with Obafemi Awolowo University Consultancy Services Limited, UNIFECS.
The legal icon while delivering a paper at the workshop which was aimed at how incessant industrial disputes could be reduced to the barest minimum said the intermittent strikes embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had taken its toll on the productivity of students who sometimes cannot defend their chosen courses.
He said the NIC would be fair to all the litigants and would not pander to any influence that could twist judgment, adding that the court had performed creditably well in solving industrial disputes across the country.
He said, â€œthough labour matters are economic matters, whatever actions any of the parties takes must be backed by law.”
A situation where a union strikes and its demands are settled, and another union opens its own, thereby disrupting the academic calendar and rendering our students to be half-baked educated graduates is worrisomeâ€.
Having lamented at the low turn-out of Southern universities at the workshop, he added, â€œASUU should be able to sit down, dissect those issues that are turbulent and identify those the authorities can handle, without necessarily embarking on strikes just for the sake of it. If our students are not given proper training, what sort of professors are we going to have in them later in life? We need to care about the future of this country by trying to harmonize our resolves for the benefit of the students, the parents and the society at largeâ€.
For a friendly and cordial relationship between stakeholders in labour, he said, â€œhaving a successful or mutually-beneficial relationship between employer and employee is anchored on effective communication between them. Essentially, this takes place in form of discussions, and covers areas like pay and bonuses, the work schedules and environment, disputes and grievances, health and safety and so on.Â When employees are not happy with working conditions, this frequently leads to high labour turnover, bad time-keeping and high level of absenteeismâ€.
He reasoned that the universities and university-based industrial unions should work assiduously to maintain a balance of interest. Collective bargaining and joint consultation forum serves as veritable tools to achieve this The unions should channel their check-off dues and resources being generated towards training of their members, making them to attend seminars and workshops nationally and internationally for them to be more enlightened on how and when to, and when not to embark on strikesâ€.