The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said that the federal government will approach the National Arbitration Panel if Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) refuses to return to the negotiating table.
Ngige, who disclosed this in a statement signed by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, warned that there would be consequences if the union rejected the federal government’s offer to return to the negotiation table.
The academic union embarked on an indefinite strike in February over the federal government’s insistence on the varsity teachers’ enrollment into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
According to the statement, the minister made the call in his hometown in Alor, Anambra state.
He said that the federal government could activate relevant labour laws to deal with the situation.
According to Ngige, the law permits the federal government to approach the National Arbitration Panel (NAP) and even the National Industrial Court (NIC) for redress on the lingering matter.
He said the ASUU strike was all about the disagreement over IPPIS.
The minister said: “Any other reason given by ASUU is an alibi. I invited ASUU for a zoom meeting in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, but they insisted on meeting me face to face.
“We have labour laws and hierarchy of arbitration. There is the NAP and NIC. If I am tired, I can refer it there.
“So the better thing is for them to come and negotiate on firsthand basis where we are not bringing an external arbitrator.”
According to him, ASUU members as employees lacked the right to dictate to the federal government on how to receive wages.
“The important thing is for your salaries and wages to come to you. As a workman, you receive your payment as compensation for services rendered. So, that is on the statute everywhere,” he added.
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