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Friday, 8 September 2017

ASUU Industrial Action: ASUU to suspend strike haven reached an agreement with FG after some failed attempt

ASUU and Federal Government

The Federal Government on Thursday held another reconciliation meeting with officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Abuja but seems not to reach an agreement with ASUU after over eight hours of negotiation, until today been friday.

The thursday meeting was after the lecturers’ failed to attend the talks called by the Minister of Labour and employment Dr. Chris Ngige, last week, saying the union was yet to conclude its consultations with its members.

In his brief opening remarks before the technical session commenced, the labour minister gave the assurance that the meeting would address the mistrust between the workers and the federal government.

ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi and other executives

The story took a u-turn today been friday as worried students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria can now have a sigh of relief, as the striking university lecturers have finally agreed today to consider the federal government’s offer and suspend their strike.

Speaking after a meeting of the lecturers with the federal government early this morning, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President, said that government and ASUU had reached an agreement on their demands with the Federal Government.

The meeting which was an effort at resolving the lingering strike embarked upon by the union, was attended by the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Minister of Education, among others in Abuja.

Ogunyemi said that ASUU would accept the proposal presented by the Federal Government on its demands.

“The concrete proposal reached during the conciliatory meeting will be taken back to our members at the National Executive Council, (NEC) for further deliberation.

“We will report back our position to the Federal Government in the next one week on whether to call off the strike or not,” he said.

He, however, called on the Federal Government to fast track the process of implementing the 2009 agreement with the union.

Ogunyemi stressed the need to finding a lasting solution to the challenges facing the country’s education sector, especially at the University level.

Also speaking after the conciliatory meeting, Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment said the Federal Government and ASUU had resolved to set up a seven-man committee to work out modalities for the actualization of its 2009 agreement.

It will be recalled that members of ASUU had embarked on indefinite strike on Aug. 13, following government’s failure to implement the agreement reached with the union in Nov. 2016.

ASUU, on Aug. 17, had met with the officials of the Ministry of Education and Labour and Employment where it was agreed that the union should consult and report back to the government within a week.

ASUU’s demands include the disputed registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company, fractionalisation of salaries in Federal Universities, gross under-funding and non-funding of State Universities.

Others are arrears and implementation of Earned Academic Allowances, release of fund for revitalisation of public universities as spelt out in the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, among others.

Ngige said that the Ministry of Education would be represented by three people, ASUU by three members, while government would be represented by one person who would serve as the Chairman of the Committee.

The minister, however, stressed the important of education to the development of every nation in the world.

He assured ASUU that government would implement all the seven demands of the union as contained in the 2009 agreement.

Ngige added that government had already shown commitment towards addressing the plight of the union by paying some of their shortfall salary arrears.

He also noted that the issue in contention was inherited from the past administration, adding that the present administration will do all within its power to address those challenges.

According to him, government is a continuous process.

On his part, the ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, expressed optimism that the industrial action would be called off if the government showed commitment to address the concerns raised.

Also in attendance were the ministers of education, the Senior Special Assistance to the President on National Assembly matters, the NLC president, and the chairman, Income and Salaries and Wages Commission.

ASUU has been on strike since August 14, over unpaid arrears and demands for improved infrastructure in the universities.

A reconciliation meeting with the Federal Government August 17 had failed to resolve the dispute, but fresh undisclosed offers were made to the lecturers.

Another reconciliation meeting held on August 29 also ended in deadlock, as ASUU insisted on seeing the government act on their demands.

They are demanding the immediate payment of earned allowances, as well as a review of the universities governance system.

Rising from a Joint Action Committee meeting of non-teaching unions in Abuja, the leadership directed their members to down tools with effect from Monday, September 11.

The meeting was attended by members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).

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