By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The raging dispute between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that has kept many universities shut for more than seven months will shift to the Industrial court next Monday.
ASUU had embarked on strike since February 15 to protest the alleged decay of infrastructure at the various institutions, as well as neglect of the welfare of its members.
A reliable source at the Federal Ministry of Labour told THISDAY last night that the ministry’s Trade Dispute Department had filed a case before the Industrial Arbitration Court in Abuja and that the hearing would commence next Monday.
According to the source, “The federal government has filed a case at the Industrial Court challenging the continued strike by the university teachers. This conforms with Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act.”
There have been a series of negotiations between the federal government and the ASUU leadership but all ended in a stalemate without a tangible outcome.
However, talks between the federal government and ASUU finally hit the rocks last Tuesday after both sides met at the National University Commission’s office in Abuja.
The federal government had said that it would not sign any other agreement it cannot implement.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, disclosed this during a meeting of Pro-Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of Federal Universities, held at the NUC’s office.
Adamu said President Muhammadu Buhari had warned the government’s team involved in the negotiation with ASUU against signing an agreement that the government would not be able to fulfill.
The minister said the government had offered the union a 23.5 percent salary increase “for all categories of the workforce in federal universities, except for the professorial cadre which will enjoy a 35 percent upward review. He said the government had also promised that N150 billion “shall be provided for in the 2023 Budget as funds for the revitalization of federal universities, to be disbursed to the Institutions in the First Quarter of the year.”
Also, the government said N50 billion would be provided “for in the 2023 Budget for the payment of outstanding arrears of earned academic allowances, to be paid in the first quarter of the year.”
However, ASUU and three other university unions have rejected the offer, describing it as “inadequate to meet their respective demands needed to tackle the challenges confronting the university system.”