Nigerian government not to be blamed for university workers’ strike – Ngige

Chris Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said the Federal Government does not deserve to be blamed for the on-going strike of non-academic staff of federal universities.

He also said that the government had fulfilled its part of an agreement reached with the striking workers on September 20.

Ngige added that the government had also fully complied with the implementation timelines of the agreement.

The university workers, who began the strike on Monday under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC), were made up of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).

They are protesting the sharing formula of the N23 billion released by the Federal Government for the settlement of earned allowances.

In a statement signed by Samuel Olowookere, the Deputy Director of Press in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the minister asked the striking workers to call off the strike and make a fresh case in respect of their reservation concerning the disbursement of the N23 billion, which he said was the first item on the September 20 agreement.

He stated that the government could not be blamed for what the unions term “skewed disbursement formula” for the money.

“As I speak, the Federal Government has fully implemented the major contemporary issues such as payment of shortfalls, registration with PENCOM, among others, in the agreement.

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“The only grievance the unions have today is that the modality for the disbursement of the N23 billion released by the Federal Government for the settlement of earned allowances is skewed against them.

“But I advised them during the negotiation to call off their strike when it entered the fifth day and quickly forward their own template for accessing the N23 billion meant for the academic and non-academic staff of the universities, since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had already submitted theirs.

“They bluntly refused and dragged the strike for weeks,” Ngige said.

He, however, said nothing had been lost, and urged the unions to make fresh case for inclusion in the 2018 budget, adding that the government was willing to address the issue.

The minister faulted the unions’ argument that they only resumed an old strike, saying the strike had been conciliated, called off and the terms of agreement implemented.

“If the unions under JAC are embarking on a fresh strike, they are yet to comply with the relevant sections of the labour laws”, he added.

He warned them to stop misguiding their members and avoid pushing the government to a point where it would invoke ‘No Work No Pay’ in line with labour laws.

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