The Federal Government has described the ongoing two-week warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, as illegal and an act of corruption.
Chris Ngige, the minister of Labour and Employment, made the government position known while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
The meeting, which lasted for over seven hours, was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
ASUU had on Monday, March 9, 2020, declared a two-week warning strike to protest the non-payment of salaries of lecturers not enrolled in the Federal Government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS.
Biodun Ogunyemi, the national president of the union, made the declaration after the ASUU National Executive Council meeting in Enugu.
Ngige, however, expressed shock over the ASUU decision to withdraw their services, saying that the mandatory strike notice was not given by the union and hence making the industrial action illegal.
“I was shocked on Monday when I read and saw some people coming out of the university that lecturers have gone on strike.
“I have my children in a Nigerian university and I saw them and it is not very cherry news. They didn’t give us the mandatory notice before going on strike. So for a start, this strike is illegal.
“They said it is a warning striking but there is nothing like warning strike.
A strike is the withdrawal of services for which you are being paid. “Then, the question will arise, if you don’t go to work, do you want to be paid? Is it not corruption? So this is the dilemma,’’ he said.
The minister, however, stated that his ministry had invited ASUU, the Minister of Education, Accountant-General as well as the Minister of Finance, National Planning and National Planning on Thursday to deliberate on the matter with a view to finding a possible solution to the problems.
He said: “So to solve the dilemma, I have invited them to the meeting on Thursday, March 12, 2020. I have invited the minister of education, their principal employer, the finance ministry and the accountant general of the federation.
“So, we will meet and discuss the way forward because no employee is empowered to dictate to his employer on how he or she should be paid.
“There is an ILO convention on it. The important thing is that you receive your compensation for services rendered or work was done as and when due.
“So, we hope to solve the problems. ASUU are Nigerians, they are patriotic but on Thursday we hope to engage them.’’
Ngige further disclosed that his ministry made a presentation to the Council where it highlighted its achievements and challenges in the last 100 days.
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