By Abdulwaheed Olayinka Adubi
Following the lingering strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Government has call on the union to return to classroom and call off its industrial action.
This was disclosed through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, after a meeting in Abuja.
He again assured that the Federal Government will not relent in its efforts to address the industrial disputes with ASUU and other unions.
According to the Minister, “everything contained in the December 2020 agreement was religiously executed to the extent that the federal government aggregately paid N92 billion from the 2021 budget.This is to cover the revitalisation funds and Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances for non-teaching staff.”
He explained that the former renegotiation committee had proposed a 200% rise in emoluments of university workers, which the FG said it will not be able to pay, adding that the renegotiation must be guided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principle of ability to pay.
Ngige further disclosed that two thirds of emoluments of the National budget is consumed by the University System and teaching hospitals.
Said he; “there is no point giving you percentages on paper that nobody can pay. Munzali worked out a percentage which placed the university workers on about 200% pay rise. The Federal Government through the Education Ministry said they cannot pay. The Ministry of Finance said they cannot pay. They came to me and I said nothing is wrong with renegotiation because even if a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is signed, it could be renegotiated.
“The document produced by Munzali was not signed by both ASUU and the Federal Government. It is a proposal. Munzali’s committee had elapsed.The Education Ministry didn’t act as I wanted. The Minister was away and his lieutenants didn’t do anything for five months, contrary to my expectations.
“The minister has set up another committee headed by Prof. Nimi Briggs. They have been working and I have given them six weeks to come up with a proposal,” he added.
The minister added that he was informed by NITDA that the UTAS proposed by ASUU failed intergrity and credibility test but passed user acceptability test.
He said “NITDA said UTAS failed, ASUU said we didn’t fail. As we were discussing, ASUU went on strike. In the face of this disagreement between ASUU and NITDA, we are talking with NITDA to bend backwards so that there will be a handshake between UTAS and the government certified IPPIS platform. After embarking on strike, ASUU has gone back to what I proposed to them.”