THE Director – General, D-G, of Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies, MINILS, Issa Aremu, has decried the protracted industrial unrest by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, lamenting that since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, ASUU had gone on strikes for 50 months, (almost five years).
Aremu, who expressed sadness that the current ASUU had shut public universities for over three months, urged the leadership of the union and the federal government to return to genuine “social dialogue” to resolve all outstanding issues in the university system.
He contended that ASUU/ Federal Government dispute was surmountable, calling for an immediate convocation of an expanded meeting within the context of the statutory National Labour Advisory Council, NLAC, to resume social dialogue on all issues in dispute.
According to him, ASUU/ FG disagreement “is a legacy of avoidable crisis of collective bargaining” dating back to military administration.
He lamented that “since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, ASUU has embarked on strikes for 50 months, (almost five years).
“The strikes by lecturers that lasted 18 months under former President Obasanjo truncated the legitimate aspirations of students in public universities to complete their studies in record time.”
Aremu, who was also a two term Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, observed that Nigeria had vibrant and tested institutions for grievance handling and dispute resolutions, and urged both the officials of the Ministry of Education and ASUU to take advantage of the tripartite NLAC, suspend current hostilities and resume social dialogue for students to return to classes.
While expressing solidarity with the students who are out of schools due to the prolonged crisis, Aremu observed that President Buhari in his May Day speech was “not unmindful” of the urgent need to resolve the crisis, given the mediatory role of the Minister of labour, Dr Chris Ngige.
He urged all parties to resume discussions to salvage the education sector which he said already suffered from “poor facilities, brain drain and mismanagement of limited funds.”
“At the core of the ongoing crisis in the universities is the issue of crisis collective bargaining of both disputes of rights and interests. Both parties need a new thinking, within the context of NLAC, reaffirm commitment to collective agreements and suspend the unhelpful dysfunctional prolonged strike.