The Federal Government yesterday threatened to invoke the policy of no work, no pay against the striking non-teaching staff in the universities.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige Speaking at the opening ceremony of the renewed discussion between the Federal Government and the JAC of the two unions, on Thursday, warned that the government may be forced to Implement the law on no work, no pay against members of the unions who are currently on indefinite strike.
Senator Ngige, who expressed the government’s displeasure at the resumed talks with the leadership of the two unions in also threatened to drag them to either the Industrial Arbitration Panel or the Industrial Court.
He said that the action of the unions in embarking on an indefinite strike while negotiations on their grievances were ongoing amounted to an act of intimidation and against international labour on social dialogue.
Ngige reminded the unions of the fate that befell other unions that tried to force the government’s hands during negotiations, saying most of their members were waiting to be paid withheld salaries. According to him:”
There is a provision of the Labour Act which allows workers to go on strike but there is equally another section of the status which permits the employers to keep his enterprise going by refusing to pay striking workers and to use it to ensure that the organization is operational to avoid huge loses.
The minister noted that Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act 2004 and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) statutes permit the government to stop the salaries of workers when they are on strike.
“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
If you are embarking on strike during a negotiation, it is an act of intimidation which is against social dialogue principle of the international labour law.”
Ngige told SSANU and NASU leaders that it was left for them to choose to continue with negotiations or opt-out so that government can refer the dispute to the industrial arbitration or industrial court for settlement.
He said, “If you want, there are options left for you, I can transfer this matter to the Industrial Arbitration or Industrial Court.”
Reacting, the spokesman of the two unions and General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Adeyemi Peters said that the non-teaching staff was responding to injustice and cheating meted to them in the sharing of the N40 billion Earned Allowances.
He states that it is impossible to beat a child and ask him not to cry, accusing the government of being the motivator of the strike they embarked on.
Peters said that a situation whereby the government gave N30 billion out of the Earned Allowances to only ASUU with the other unions being made to share N10 billion was not just.
Recall that the non-teaching staff in the universities under the umbrella of Joint Action Committee, comprising Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, had embarked on an indefinite strike on February 5, after the expiration of the deadline they gave to the government to attend to their seven points agenda.
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