ABUJA -The National Industrial Court in Abuja will on Monday commence hearing in the suit filed against the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, by the Federal Government over the seven months strike.
Already, the Federal Government has filed a memo for an accelerated hearng of the suit.
ASUU had embarked on strike since February 15 to protest alleged decay of infrastructure at the various institutions, as well as neglect of the welfare of its members.
Talks between the Federal government and ASUU to end the strike has not yielded any fruitful results leading to the filling of the suit against the Union by the Federal Government over the seven months old strike.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has filed a referral before the court for an accelerated hearing of the suit.
The referral instrument which has been addressed to the Registrar of the National Industrial Court, was raised in line with the powers vested on the Minister of Labour and Employment by Trade dispute mechanism and the provisions of section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act. CAP. 18, Laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria (LFN).
The document dated September 8, 2022 and signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige reads: “We have referred (the dispute to the NIC) and all parties FGN/ FMEd/HAGF/ASUU have been served for appearance and hearing at NiCN for 9am tomorrow Monday.
”Please find attached three (3) original copies of a Referral Instrument regarding the trade dispute between the Federal Government of Nigeria /Federal Ministry of Education and The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for adjudication by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
“In view of the fact that ASUU members have been on strike since February 14, 2022, and have refused to call off the action despite apprehension of same, it would be appreciated if this dispute is given an accelerated hearing in order to bring the dispute to an end.”
The decision to approach the industrial court was reached after both parties failed to resolve the issue at a meeting in Abuja.
Meanwhile, 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.”
Some of the demands of the union included: funding for the revitalization of public universities; payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA)/Earned Allowances (EA); payment of salary shortfalls; stopping the proliferation of state universities by governors; setting up of Visitation Panels.
Others are renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement; adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university lecturers and payment of withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.