In response to the federal government’s failure to resolve its dispute with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other trade unions in the Nigerian public universities, among others, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has announced that a nationwide protest will take place on July 26 and 27.
This was stated by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a circular that was jointly signed on Sunday in Abuja by Emmanuel Ugboaja, General Secretary of the Congress.
The NLC State Council Chairpersons and Secretaries were the intended recipients of the July 15th circular.
Several trade unions in the education sector, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), have been on strike for more than five months because they believe the government has broken the terms of the contract it made with the unions.
Concerns over university finance, lecturer pay, and earned benefits are among the demands of the striking staff.
Mr. Wabba claims that the action is in accordance with the resolutions made at the Nigeria Labour Congress’ National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on June 30.
“We have scheduled as follows the National Days of Protest to get our children back to school and support our unions in Nigeria’s public universities fighting for quality education.
“The dates are on July 26 and 27 at all the state capitals of the federation and Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and take off point are at the NLC State Secretariats and the Labour House, Abuja
“You are requested to immediately convene the meetings of your SAC to disseminate this information and to fully mobilise workers in the states for this very important protest for good governance, ’’ he said.
Additionally, Mr. Wabba criticized the federal government in a separate statement for allegedly rejecting the Nimi-Briggs Committee report on the negotiations between the university-based union and its members.
He claims that the purported action violates the key tenet of the ILO Convention No. 98, which Nigeria adopted and whose central tenet is “Negotiation in Good Faith.”
“The Nigeria Labour Congress is concerned about reports widely disseminated by the media, both online and traditional, positing that the Federal Government may have rejected its own Nimi-Briggs Committee.
“That is on the premise of alleged disparity between the pay rise allocated to university teaching staff and the non-teaching staff.
“First, we wish to posit that the purpose for setting up the Nimi Briggs Committee was to conform with the fundamental principles of the rights of trade unions to collective bargaining as guaranteed by ILO Convention Number 98 which Nigeria has ratified.Mr Wabba pointed out that one of the cardinal principles of collective bargaining was the principle of negotiation in good fate.
He stated that carrying out sincere and fruitful negotiations was one of the principal components.
However, Mr. Wabba pointed out that the unions and NLC had been kept in the dark about the Committee’s report ever since the government established the Nimi-Briggs Committee to provide recommendations about the review of the pay of employees at Nigeria’s universities.
He claims it is shocking to learn via media excerpts about a study that is only the result of discussions between a committee of the federal government and the involved unions.
“Our first response is to aver that this development gravely betrays and undermines the principle of negotiation in good fate as it manifests crass disrespect by the government for trade unions in Nigeria’s universities,’’ he said.
Therefore, he claimed, the Congress asked that the federal government end its negotiations with the labor unions in Nigeria’s colleges right away.
Additionally, he urged the government to be ready to start implementing any resulting Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“They should also immediately pay the salaries of striking university workers which had been frozen on the premise of the so-called “no work-no pay” policy, especially as recommended by the leaders of Nigeria’s two major faiths,’’ he said.