The Minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige has again urged striking varsity teachers to return to work while the Federal Government attends to their demands.
The minister also told the seven-man committee re-negotiating the Conditions of Service of the university workers to act fast so that the government can have a document to work with the lecturers’ umbrella body, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Fielding questions from reporters in Abuja on the extension of the strike, Ngige said further enquiries should be directed to the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC), which according to him, are the direct employers of the university teachers.
Ngige accused ASUU of persistently breaching Labour laws, noting that their demands/grievances were under the purview of the Education Ministry.
He said: “As the conciliator of the labour dispute between the Federal Government and the unions, he also urged the government to expedite action on the renegotiation of the conditions of service of the university workers so that the government can have a working document with ASUU.
“I have appealed to SSANU (Senior Staff Association of Universities), NASU (Non-Academic Union of Allied and Education Institutions) and NAAT (National Association Of Academic Technologists) to get back and open the universities so that when ASUU members come back, they will see a place to work. That is the situation now. In the Ministry of Labour and Employment, we are conciliators and arbitrators.”
Urging Nigerians to direct their inquiries on the strike to the Education Ministry and the NUC, the minister said: “As a ministry. We are not the direct employers of ASUU members or lecturers, whether they’re in polytechnics or in Colleges of Education.
“We are not their direct employer. My ministry has an industrial dispute unit and to even help them, we have what we call a labour advisory desk.
“In the Ministry of Education, Health, Aviation, Office of the Head of Service, and Petroleum Ministry, all the volatile ministries have a labour desk.
“Those on strike are not our workers. Their direct employers are the universities and the Federal Ministry of Education. Any further queries on the ASUU strike should go to the Federal Ministry of Education and if possible, NUC, who are their direct employers.
“We are here to conciliate them whenever either the employers or employees report to us that there is a breakdown in negotiations.
“Already there is a breakdown and we have seen a strike.
“The lecturers asked the government to implement the Memorandum of Action signed in December 2020 on funding for the revitalisation of public universities.”
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