By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
AS the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU extends its ongoing strike, indications emerged on Monday that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has written to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu to get the situation report on the negotiation between the leadership of the university lecturers and the ministry.
ASUU had in the early hours of Monday resolved to extend the strike despite the alleged government offer to the union.
Nigeria’s public universities have been on strike since February 14 ASUU declared one month warning strike over unresolved issues with the federal government.
A month after the lecturers withdrew their services, the non-teaching staff also commenced their own strike over some demands they claimed the government was unable to attend to.
The three non-teaching staff unions in the university that downed tools are the Senior Staff Union of Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
While the three non-teaching staff unions have suspended their own strike after the government made some offers to them, ASUU has extended its own strike.
Some of the contentious issues that led to the strike by the unions include the non-release of revitalization fund, non-payment of earned allowance (or earned academic allowance), renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, release of white paper for visitation panel, non-payment of minimum wage arrears and the inconsistency occasioned by the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS.
There have been insinuations that the federal government may drag ASUU to the National Industrial Court for refusing to suspend the strike after some of their concerns have been addressed.
An impeccable source in the Ministry of Labour and Employment did not confirm whether there was any such move to take ASUU to Industrial Court but the source said that the Minister of Labour, who is the Conciliator-in-Chief may meet with the Minister of Education to know the status of the ongoing renegotiation talks.
According to the source, “We gathered that the Minister (Ngige) has written to the Minister of Education to know the status of the ongoing negotiation with ASUU. The union is also expected to inform the ministry.”
Reminded that ASUU has extended the strike, the source said, “There must be a reason why they decided to extend the strike despite the government offer to them. But I don’t know whether they have given their reasons for the action to the Minister of Education, the union is supposed to write to the ministry to state why they are extending the strike. They are also supposed to copy the Minister of Labour.”
Another source said that since the Minister of Education is the direct employer of the university teachers and the minister handling the negotiation matter, it is normal that he should write his counterpart from the Ministry of Labour on the situation report.
“You know that the matter was sent to Mallam Adamu to renegotiate the 2009 agreement with ASUU, that is why the Professor Nimi Briggs Renegotiation Committee was set up. If there is any breakdown, the Minister of Education should write a report on status of the negotiation to the Minister of Labour. ASUU is also expected to send a report to the Labour Minister.”