Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment on Monday disclosed that contrary to the news-making round, the Federal Government did not take the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to court over its prolonged strike.
Ngige made the clarification in a statement issued by the Head of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundunn while lamenting that the leadership of the union does not even understand the importance of the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) negotiation, alleging that they lack the nutrients of labour unionism.
The Minister who spoke in Abuja, at the public presentation of the NLC at 40 publication, titled, “Contemporary History of Working Class Struggles,” said he would have failed in his duties if he didn’t refer the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) after seven months of protracted discussions and failed negotiations with the union.
He recalled that ASUU was at the stage of CBA negotiation with their employers, the Federal Ministry of Education when they embarked on strike.
He said: “We have to counsel our brothers on negotiation. No negotiation is forced. You cannot say it is either you give me 200 per cent or I will continue my strike. There are laws guiding strikes. There are ILO principles on the right to strike. Nobody can take it away.
“But, there are things that follow it when you embark on strike as a worker and they are enshrined in the laws of our land. It is written in the Trade Dispute Act. The ILO principles of strike talk about the right of a worker to withdraw services. There is also the right to picket. These are things that are done.
“Nigeria is respected in ILO. Some people said the Federal Government took ASUU to court. No. I referred the matter after seven months of protracted discussions and negotiations that failed.”
Ngige recalled that he conciliated the dispute twice, first on February 22, one week after the commencement of the strike and some agreements were reached, and he brought everybody back on March 1 for another conciliation. (Independent)