ASUU May Forfeit 8 Months Pension - FG

Paschal Emeka, Abuja

There are indications that the controversies rocking the Nigerian universities system may linger as the Federal Government on Tuesday hinted that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, may also forfeit their eight months’ pension entitlements for the period the strike lasted.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, gave this indication in Abuja, after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He described 2022 as a year of strikes and noted that members of ASUU triggered the fate which might befall them as a result of the “no work no pay policy” implemented while their strike lasted.

ASUU and Federal Government have been engaged in a battle of wits after the university union called off its eight-month strike but failed to get its full months’ salaries afterwards.

While lamenting the various strikes government contended with in 2022, the Minister said the government had to contend with industrial disputes from various unions in the public sector as against the private sector which was relatively peaceful all year round.

Ngige also hinted that government was handicapped by funding constraints and disclosed that plans are under way to shore up the salaries of workers in the academic system.

“ASUU has not pronounced anything on their salary anymore because it’s one of the issues that was referred to the National Industrial Court for determination, whether a worker who is on strike should be paid in violation of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act which says when you go on strike, the consequences are these:

“Number one, you will not be paid, you will not be compensated for not going to work to enable your employer keep the industry or enterprise afloat. That money should not be given to you, and that compensation should not be given. It’s there in Section 43 (1). There is a second leg for Section 43, it also said that period you were on strike will not count for you as part of your pensionable period of work in your service.

“That aspect, government has not touched it, but the aspect of no-work-no-pay has been triggered off by that strike. So we are asking the court to look at it. So the matter is out of the hand of the Executive (that’s us) and out of the hand of the judiciary. ASUU has also put up a defence in court, asking the court, “yes, we went on strike, but we did that for a reason.” So it’s now left for the court to look at it.”

Ngige said he was at the Villa to brief Mr. President on the labour sector for 2022.

“It’s a year we can call a year of industrial disputes starting from the February Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) strike which was joined by other sister unions in the university system and even the people in the research institutes and thereafter pressed from various unions, including the Medical Doctors Association and the youth wing of the National Association of Resident Doctors.

“JOHESU which is the Joint Health Sector Union was all asking for a wage increase, and can also be understandable because of what inflation had done to the economy and the attendant cost of living for people who have to be workers in the public sector.

“In the private sector, the private sector employers have managed their affairs better, maybe, because their finances and management are within their very audit and they could control it, they could do collective bargaining very easily with their workers. The banking sector, food and beverages, and finance, insurance, everywhere; there is calm there. We didn’t have the desired calmness on the government’s side because of the government’s finances,”
Ngige briefed State House correspondents.

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