Feds urge NLC to rein in ASUU –

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The federal government has urged the Nigeria Labor Congress to advise its affiliate, the Universities Academic Staff Union, to abide by the provisions of the Labor Disputes Act and call off its ongoing strike.

The Minister of Labor and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, made the call on Monday during the opening ceremony of the 2022 edition of the National Labor Advisory Council in Lagos.

Ngige said this in a statement signed by Charles Akpan, deputy director of press and public relations at the ministry.

He said, “I am taking this opportunity to advocate with the NLC that ASUU is affiliated with, to call them to order, to obey the law, to let them know what the law says on trade disputes. .

“As university professors who even teach labor law, to obey the law. They should call off this strike. This strike is not properly triggered.

“I conciliated and ensured that the issues in dispute were decisively resolved.”

Ngige also urged the Council to discuss, as part of its agenda, a workable recipe that appropriately reconciles disputes with associations that are not properly registered as unions, to ensure that they fully comply with the provisions of the law.

He said: “What will be the relationship with workers’ organizations that are not duly registered as trade unions? The labor law is there and says that the minister can discuss with them. But they are not fully compliant with the legal provisions.

“It is particularly in terms of style of negotiation and conciliation. NLAC should therefore come to the aid of the country here.

“Even though the Industrial Disputes Act allows the Minister to apprehend and deal with those workers who have not been registered as unions, you can also see that when dealing with them you run into problems.

“It’s because they don’t fully understand the nuisances or don’t obey labor laws as they should.

“If you are a union, you give sufficient notice before going on strike. If you too are unionized and your strike is apprehended, you return to your work until the necessary adjustments are made to do you justice.

“The NLAC should bring the workers’ side of the tripartite to shoulder their responsibilities in this regard.”

The minister noted that some associations in critical sectors of health and education, such as the Medical Association of Nigeria and the National Association of Resident Doctors, are in fact not properly unionised.

According to Ngige: “The NMA is not a union, the NARD is not a union. They are workers’ associations.

“University teachers are registered with the Universities Academic Staff Union and are affiliated with the Nigerian Labor Congress, but this affiliation is only in name. This is not the case, because they do not respect the labor law with regard to conciliation.

“For example, ASUU declared a month-long strike and called it a warning strike. He did not notify his employer, the Department of Education, nor did he notify me, the Minister of Labour, that there was a breakdown in the negotiations.

“I know they had discussions which were in limbo, but I should be informed properly so that I can stop the breakdown and present it for proper conciliation.

“From now on, I apprehended the dispute in accordance with labor law. They came for conciliation, only to leave and continue the strike. It’s illegal. The law is that once a dispute is settled, everyone reverts to the status quo ante.

“The law also states that if I end a dispute and the party or parties are not prepared to comply, I must transfer the dispute within 14 days either to the industrial arbitration panel or to the National Labor Court of Nigeria under section 17 of the Labor Disputes Act.

“But I’m afraid if I do this suo motu it won’t solve the problem; bring our children back to school.

Ngige recalled the many benefits of the Council, particularly with regard to the review of labor laws and the adoption of the various ILO conventions, and commended the federal government for moving forward with the best global practices while working towards the adoption of the conventions.

The Minister referred to Convention 102, which deals with social security, listing the pillars to include comprehensive medical care, workers’ compensation, workers’ insurance and maternal health.

He noted that the Employees Compensation Act 2010, the National Health Insurance Scheme as well as the maternity and now paternity leave currently available to civil servants go in this direction.

However, he reiterated the ministry’s commitment to ensure a regular meeting of the council.

Earlier, the Department of Labor and Employment Permanent Secretary and Chairman of the Board, Peter Tarfa, said the meeting was a demonstration of the department’s commitment to holding regular NLAC meetings.

Tarfa added that this is to strengthen the council in its role as the supreme body responsible for ensuring industrial peace and harmony as well as sound labor administration practices.

He said the “national industrial relations space” remained turbulent despite government efforts, hence the need for collective input from all stakeholders to find a solution.

He added: “These challenges will therefore require our collective efforts to be resolved. To this end, the essential role of the council in promoting industrial peace and harmony should be enhanced to resolve long-running labor disputes and improve national productivity and economic development.

He added that the ministry has taken the necessary steps to forward to the Federal Executive Council two of the conventions recommended by the Council in 2021 in Owerri.

He listed them as the Violence and Harassment in the World of Work Convention, 2019 (No. 190), and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187).

According to him, others are in progress.

Tarfa regretted the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the economy which have aggravated the challenges facing the government and opened more borders to the industrial crisis.

“If we don’t stop this ugly trend, achieving Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals which seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic development and decent work for all would continue to be a mirage,” he said. declared.

Goodwill messages were presented to the well-attended council by ILO Country Director Vanessa Lerato Phala, NLC, TUC and NECA.

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