By Emeka Mamah
Kadunaâ€”The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has advised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to suspend its ongoing strike to create a conducive environment for a renewed negotiation of their demands from the Federal Government.
According to it, ASUU has over-used the strike option in trying to resolve issues with the government.
NLC’s Vice-President, Mr. Isa Aremu, who said these at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, yesterday, added that the time had come for ASUU to suspend its 10 weeks old strike and create the enabling environment for negotiations to resume.
He warned that there was the possibility that the strike might collapse on the leadership of the union, adding that such a situation would be too catastrophic for its image.
Aremu was delivering a public lecture, entitled: â€œLabour strikes and the Nigerian economyâ€ which was organised by the Nigerian Economic Students Association of ABU.
He stressed that the ugly situation in the nationâ€™s educational system was a national problem which must involve all stakeholders in the industry if solutions must be found.
According to him, it is on record through the ongoing strike, that ASUU has forced the government into admitting that there exist problems in the education sector which need urgent attention.
Aremu, however, pointed out that the government must devise new strategies regarding the strike and negotiate with ASUU.
â€œWith a two weeks warning strike and indefinite strike of eight weeks, ASUU is recording serious casualties.
â€œThe first casualties are the students. Some have died through road accidents. Some are now engaged in criminal activities. Some within ASUU, their ranks have been broken. Some of the universities refused to join the strike and some have even called off the strike.
â€œThe most dangerous thing for a union is for strikes to collapse on its hand. This means ASUU must think of suspending the strike to create environment for a renewed negotiation.
â€œIn fact, apart from the pay issue, the other demands are disputes of interest which involves a lot of campaign and should involve all the stakeholders. I am happy that ASUU is carrying other unions alongâ€¦ They should not use the same spirit to conclude their negotiation within different approach.
â€œWe should not politicise collective bargaining on the education of our children. Even when the government said they donâ€™t want to talk, they still talk at each other through the media rather than talking to ASUU.
â€œOn the part of the unions, the way forward is that they have put education agenda for discussion. Even though government has not addressed the issue, there is no denying the fact that education sector is in crisis.
â€œAgain, even as they have not addressed those issuesâ€¦ the gain to the two parties is that we are discussing Nigeria universities and they are 90 in number. All the parties must look at the remaining issues as challenges and not problems.
â€œIf we see them as problems, they will look insurmountable, but when we see them as challenges, we try to find solution to them.
â€œWe can only have resolution to this crisis if the negotiating parties namely the government, sector unions see that even without concluding the negotiations, gains have been made. On the part of government, they should be delighted they have aggrieved lecturers and non academic staff that are willing to dialogueâ€, Aremu added.
He further said that strikes can be called on two fronts including strike by strike and strike of interest, pointing out that while only demand on the ASUU list is by right, all other demands are by interest which should involve all stakeholders.
Aremu stressed that government, on its part has not helped matters by not talking to ASUU, adding that collective bargaining which is one of the major area of conflict at the moment is only a problem solving technique and called for compromise between the government and the striking lecturers, as according to him is not a sign of weakness, but strength.