The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, says labour controllers across the states of the federation are monitoring schools to ensure compliance with the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Mr Ngige stated this when he appeared on “Politics Today,” a programme on Channels TV on Friday.
He insisted that members of ASUU must obey the court order or risk contempt of the court.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the court gave the order after dismissing the union’s application for a stay of execution of an earlier ruling of the National Industrial Court directing the university lecturers to resume work.
The three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Hamma Barka granted the union permission to appeal the ruling of the industrial court but ruled that it must first resume work to be allowed to file the appeal.
“I have asked labour controllers in the states and the zones to go to the schools and see if the vice chancellors have opened the gates.
“If they don’t, they will be charged for contempt,” he said.
Mr Ngige said ASUU must return to the NIC in the interest of the students.
The minister added he transmitted seven issues to the NIC, one of them being the ‘no work no pay’ policy of the federal government. He stated that the court is going to have a final say on the policy.
“I will advise them— for the benefit of the children, to go back to school. Then go back to the court (National Industrial Court). It will grant them either of two things. One, set up an Alternative Dispute Resolution to look at seven issues I transmitted to the court. The ADR will be domiciled in the court.
“Two, if the claimants and the defendant can go back to their primary root, the Ministry of Education,” he said.
Mr Ngige said he was forced to take the union to the court after all other efforts failed to address the lingering strike.
Lecturers of public universities in Nigeria embarked on strike on 14 February, over federal government’s refusal to implement a 2009 agreement on matters bordering on increased funding of universities and increasing lecturers’ salaries.
Following its inability to resolve the dispute with ASUU through negotiations, the federal government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, referred the matter to the industrial court for resolution.
The government asked the court to determine the legality or otherwise of the strike.
The government also asked the court to determine whether ASUU members are entitled to emoluments for the period they have been on strike.
The Nigerian government wanted the court to adjudicate on the propriety or otherwise of the strike.
President Muhammadu Buhari had also announced during budget presentation on Friday, that his government will not sign any agreement with the union unless it is sure of being able to implement such.
Mr Buhari also announced that N470 billion has been allocated for salary enhancement for tertiary institutions and revitalisation of the schools.