The duo comprising the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, both spoke on the latest development from the conflict that has kept Nigerian students out of school for 185 days.
One on hand, the federal government has said it would not pay university lecturers for staying out of school for over six months. The federal government is imposing a “no work, no pay” order. On the other hand, ASUU is insisting that university lecturers should not return to school until the government compensates them for the six months they stayed out of school.
The federal government has encouraged Nigerian students to sue ASUU if they hope to receive compensation for staying out of school for six months.
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ASUU and sister university unions have been on strike since February 14th 2022, following the non-fulfilment of agreements between the union and the federal government.
Understanding the “no work, no pay” policy
Although in Nigeria’s constitution there is no law that allows a Nigerian worker to embark on a strike action however, the law acknowledges strike action when the offended follows due process.
- The Union should have attempted to settle the conflict with the federal government amicably.
- In the case where the parties are unable to settle amicably, they must appoint a mediator. And if this fails, the parties must report to the Minister of Labour who appoints a Conciliator.
- Where the dispute is not resolved, the parties proceed to the Industrial Arbitration Panel. If an objection arises to the award by the Panel, the Minister refers to the National Industrial Court.
Section 18 of the Trade Disputes Act prohibits workers from embarking on a strike action without observing this protocol.
The Act further holds workers in essential services to a higher standard. These essential workers include those employed by any level of government, or by private organizations in connection with, “the burial of the dead, hospitals, the treatment of the sick, the prevention of disease, or for sanitation, road-cleansing and the disposal of night soil and rubbish.”
Worthy of note that the Nigerian law doesn’t completely ban embarking on strike. In fact, Section 31 of the Trade Union Act provides conditions including breach of contract by employers as a premise to embark on a strike.
- Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act does not entitle workers to pay during the strike.
- However, it can be argued that the conditions provided by section 31 were the basis for the strike.