The Federal Government, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities -SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions, on Thursday, agreed to conclude negotiations on the demands by the unions on Friday.
The closed-door meeting which kicked off around 3 pm and ended at past 9 pm reportedly adjourned till tomorrow for the adoption of the resolutions.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had in his opening remarks insisted that the ongoing strike by SSANU and NASU contravened both the labour laws of the country and the statutes of the International Labour Organisation.
The minister said it was wrong of the unions to proceed on full-blown strike when the government “had already apprehended the strike according to sections 7 and 8 of the Trade Dispute Act”.
He recalled that SSANU and NASU issued Trade Dispute Notice to the government under the umbrella of Joint Action Committee and government called them and started a discussion on February 2.
He said after extensive discussions on two out of the seven issues in dispute, the unions requested for an adjournment to confer with their members, only to proceed on full-blown indefinite strike while negotiations had commenced.
The minister noted that section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act 2004 and the ILO statutes permit the government to stop the salaries of workers when they are on strike, warning that the government would not hesitate to invoke the laws if the unions fail to observe the rules guiding social dialogue.
He said, “You asked for an adjournment, we gave an adjournment and you used the period of adjournment to go on full-blown strike. That is not right. It is not social dialoguing.
“It is against ILO statutes. The ILO statute says you have a right to go on strike and your employer has a right not to pay you and use the same money to keep the enterprise going.”
Responding, the JAC spokesman, Peter Adeyemi, said the unions have supported the government and should not be compensated with the denial of the rights of their members.
“How do you explain that you gave N40 billion to a sector and N10 billion was given to three unions. You cannot beat us and tell us not to cry,” he said.