The Federal Government and the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would resume talks next week with a view to ending the prolonged closure of Nigerian public universities.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige made this disclosure in his office while making opening remarks at a meeting between the government side and the striking National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
A statement by Acting Head Press and Public Relations,
Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Patience Onuobia said that Ngige noted the multiple industrial disputes in the education sector could have been averted if the unions in the sector took advantage of his open door policy.
The Minister who also decried the rivalry between the education unions, made it clear that everybody is important in the university system.
He assured that the government was tackling all the disputes in education sector holistically, knowing full well that none of the unions could function effectively without the other union.
Ngige maintained that the issues causing the rumpus in the industrial milieu were economic, bordering on money and welfare, including old arrears and 2009 renegotiation of Conditions of Service.
“I believe that if we talk frankly to ourselves, knowing full well that the economy is not good and that you should have money that can take you home. With an open mind, we will arrive at something. Once we arrive at something, It will be done.”
He, however, pointed out that the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement would not be immediate because the Education Ministry had put in place a committee to handle it.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Andrew David Adejo re-emphasised that all the issues in dispute were basically economic, in the sense that everybody wants improved conditions of service.
Adejo said while government agrees that workers should enjoy better Conditions of Service, consistent industrial actions were worsening the situation.
“In 2000 when this agreement was signed, N400,000 was equivalent to $3000. Today, that N400,000 is less than $400. Because of this consistent trend, we are reducing productivity in the economy. So, the things that will help us to generate more money to meet these demands have been taken away.”
Addressing the meeting, the President of NAAT, Ibeji Nwokoma said ordinarily, they would not have gone on strike, but they were compelled to do so because the Education Ministry didn’t help matters in the issue.
He said they embarked on strike as a last resort to draw government attention to their plight.
Culled from THISDAY