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FG Must Meet Our Demands – ASUU Insists As Strike Continues

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has stated that it would remain on strike until the Federal Government satisfies all of its demands.

The Federal Government, on the other hand, expects that the current strike will be called off shortly, claiming that the fresh walkout by university instructors, which began on February 14, 2022, caught them off guard.

Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said government was surprised ASUU rejected the understanding and assurances it gave 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, at the resumed conciliation meeting with the union on Tuesday.

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According to the Minister, who was in Botswana for the African Regional Labour Administrative Centre (ARLAC) conference when ASUU went on strike, he believed the university professors and their employer, the Ministry of Education, would have settled the issues within days.

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“I had hoped that ASUU and the Ministry of Education would have worked out the concerns, which are fortunately not major points of contention warranting strike action. I returned, much to my astonishment, to find that the strike had not ended. Regardless, it is my Ministry’s mission to seize industrial conflicts wherever they exist, and we have done so.

“ASUU will recognize that the government does not want to hurt them as a result of today’s talks.”
This is because, even if there are still gaps in the agreement’s implementation, they aren’t severe enough to warrant strike action. To that extent, we must do all in our power to bring this to a conclusion.

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But I must tell you that the administration was taken aback since NIREC had previously met with you (ASUU) and reported to the President. We genuinely thought we would not go this course of industrial action again after meeting with you (ASUU) and giving you the specifics of their meeting with you. So the government is caught off guard—the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and everyone else is caught off guard.”

Ngige, however, assured that the strike had been apprehended by his ministry and that the ongoing conciliation would prepare ground for an expanded meeting which will involve NIREC.

“It is my mandate to apprehend industrial disputes and this has been apprehended so we can discuss, and later expand to what is called tripartite plus meeting, involving members of NIREC who are top religious and traditional rulers, we cannot push aside. And that is as soon as we are done and agree on issues here.”

The minister expressed optimism that the strike would be called off soon to enable students go back to school.

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See How Much ASUU Is Expected To Receive To Call Off Strike

“It should not be one month strike. In fact there is nothing like one month strike or warning strike in labour parlance. Strike is strike. We want this to end as soon as possible, as we sort out all grey areas in the agreement as the ILO Principles At Work allows for renegotiation of Collective Bargaining Agreement. So we go back to the draft agreement. We must avoid another situation where our children bear the brunt of two elephants fighting,” he added.

 

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