By Nna Anulumadu

The Nigerian government said it will adopt voluntary conciliation to end the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).This was disclosed by the minister of labour and employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, on Tuesday at a 3-day capacity building workshop on international labour standards and dispute resolution in Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.He revealed that voluntary conciliation was adopted instead of arbitration in order not to delay the resolution process with the striking lecturers.In the event organised by the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the minister stated that he would have have transmitted the matter to the IAP or the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).“But I used my discretion to weigh the situation to know if it would cause more delay in the resolution of the dispute in a court process,” he said.He added that “ASUU had embarked on strike on February 14 and voluntary conciliation started on February 22 and subsequently, on March 1 citing that by the second meeting, most of the issues arising from the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) signed between ASUU and the ministry of education with other government agencies involved, were conciliated leaving out only two.“The two outstanding issues were the conditions of service, which according to the 2009 Agreement would be reviewed every four years.“The last review was in 2013 and we started the review in 2018 under Wale Babalakin (SAN) as the chairman of the renegotiation committee. We could not conclude because Babalakin left.“A new committee headed by Munzali came. Munzali finished his work and put in his report at the federal ministry of education,” he said.He added that all the committees including the  previous Onosode committee were all internal committees of the ministry of education.“The major issue here is salary and wage review. That is where they are before ASUU embarked on strike,’’ he said, also adding that a strike triggers the content of the Trade Dispute Act (TDA) on how to resolve the industrial action.“If a party wants us to transmit a matter back to them to have a second look, you assist them. That is what you call voluntary conciliation.”They said, “Following extensive deliberations and taking cognisance of government’s past failures to abide by its own timelines in addressing issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA), NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for four weeks to give government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues. The role-over strike action is with effect from 12.01 a.m., on Monday, August 1, 2022.”09ôoopp

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