The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige on Monday explained that the Ministry adopted voluntary conciliation for resolving the dispute with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Have both parties reached a truce?
No, they haven’t. Ngige said this while responding to questions at the Joint Workshop on International Labour Standards and Dispute Resolutions, which was organised by the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Abuja. He said they decided on voluntary conciliation instead of arbitration.
So, what’s the relevance of this?
According to the Labour Minister, the decision was taken to avoid unnecessary elongation of the dispute with ASUU. He said the dispute could have been transmitted to the IAP or the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), but he considered the likelihood of the court process causing more delay in the resolution of the dispute.
The Minister disclosed that by the second meeting with ASUU after the strike began, most of the issues relating to the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) signed between ASUU and the Ministry of Education (and other government agencies involved) had been resolved, leaving out only two. According to Ngige, the two outstanding issues were the conditions of service (salary & wage review) – which the 2009 agreement stated would be reviewed every four years.
“The last review was in 2013 and we started the review in 2018 under Wale Babalakin (SAN) as the chairman of the renegotiation committee. We could not conclude because Babalakin left. A new committee headed by Munzali” finished its work and submitted a report to the Ministry of Education, Ngige said, adding that the matter is currently being handled by the Education ministry.