As workers in Nigeria join their counterparts globally to mark this year’s May Day, Organised Labour has called on the federal government to as a matter of urgency address the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU who have ensured that the gates of public Universities have remained closed for the third month running.
In a joint address during the occasion marking the Workers’ Day in Abuja, the Presidents of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC Ayuba Wabba and Trade Union Congress TUC, Quadri Olaleye, attributed the strife between the government and the Universities lecturers to the non implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that the federal government signed with the Unions.
Some of the issues in the signed agreement include University funding, earned allowance and other welfare issues facing the University system.
“We are grieved at the pattern of social apartheid in our society as revealed by the incessant strike in our Universities.
“Over 95 percent of students constituted largely by children of the poor who cannot afford the huge fees charged by the private Universities are at home while the children from rich homes who are in private tertiary institutions at home and abroad are comfortably pursuing their education unabated”, the two labour leaders said.
As a solution to resolve the issue, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress Ayuba Wabba, said the federal government must implement agreements it reached with the workers in the Universities and Polytechnics.
He said that labour had already given a twenty-one notice for the resolution of the industrial crisis in the Universities saying that at the expiration of the notice, workers will have no choice but to embark on solidarity actions with unions in the Universities and students.
On political participation in the quest for good governance and national development in Nigeria which is the theme of this year’s May Day in Nigeria, organised labour said the solutions are captured in the Workers’ Charter of demands which prioritized equity, fairness and social justice.
According to the NLC and TUC, “Our Charter demands for free and quality education up to tertiary level for every Nigerian child. Our Charter of demands insists that every Nigerian should access free and quality healthcare from cradle to the grave.
“We, therefore, canvass for robust political commitment to increased budgetary allocation to education, healthcare and social welfare….”
Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the occasion, decried the lingering industrial action by the Universities lecturers and appealed to the NLC and TUC to “facilitate a solution of the dispute through dialogue.”
He stressed that the government and ASUU are on the same mission which he said is to make the nation work.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige in his intervention, said that tripartite consultations are recognized as mediums for engagement of actors in the industrial relations arena to arrive at Collective Bargaining Agreements or Social Pacts while implementing new socio-economic policies.
He said: “We reiterate the doctrine put in place by the International Labour Organisation founding fathers that in tripartism or employment relationships, social dialogue is the key and it unlocks the expected fruits of social justice, equity and decent work.
“Therefore, let us all embrace social dialogue to build a sound national industrial relations system”, the Minister said.
The theme for this year’s May Day is “Labour, Politics and the Quest for Good Governance and Development in Nigeria.”
Source: Voice of Nigeria