IN what appears to be an attempt to break the ranks of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Federal Government has approved the registration of a rival group, the Congress of University Academics, CONUA.
This is as the government has directed them to resume work immediately.
The new university based academic union was on Tuesday presented with a Certificate of Registration at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The group has opposed the union’s on-going strike which began on February 14 and has been battling to gain recognition from Federal Government for years now.Also registered as a trade union is the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics, NAMDA.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who presented the letters and copies of the Trade Union Act to the groups at his office in Abuja said “The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in the discharge of her mandate in the management of Employment Relationships and the Administration of Trade Unions to ensure harmonious industrial relations system in the nation has decided to approve the registration of two (2) more Trade Unions in the Nigerian University Academic Sub Sector.
He said the two unions would operate along with ASUU.
According to the Minister, “The University Sub-Sector is a major development plank of any Nation’s Socio Economic growth. Knowledge they say is Power.
“It may be noted that Section 3(2) of the Trade Unions Act, CAP. T14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 gives the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment powers to regroup an existing Trade Union of Workers or Employers. The Section under reference states
“No Combination of workers or employers shall be registered as a Trade Union save with the approval of the Minister on his being satisfied that it is expedient to register the Union either by regrouping existing Trade Union. registering a new Trade Union or otherwise howsoever….
“In view of the above, I Senator (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige, in the exercise of the power conferred on me as the Honourable Minister of Labour & Employment, do hereby approve the registration of Congress of Nigeria University Academics (CONUA), and Nigeria Association of Medical & Dental Lecturers in Academics (NAMDA).
“These Associations will exist side by side with ASUU in the Nigerian Universities in the spirit and tenets of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Core Convention nos. 87 & 98 which are respectively on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining; as well as the enthronement”.
The Minister decried that classrooms in the nation’s Public Universities have been shut and students kept at home by the strike action of ASUU despite series of engagements to resolve the trade dispute by the Federal Government.
He said, “In line with the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP. TS, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, this Strike was apprehended & Conciliations were done in this Ministry on February 22, 2022, and March 1, 2022.
“However, all efforts at conciliation failed resulting in the transmission of the trade dispute to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) for adjudication in line with the statutory trade dispute resolution processes.
“At the NICN, an Interlocutory Injunction Order was obtained asking the Union to get back to work while the substantive suit is being heard; an order ASUU leadership and members refused to obey. Interestingly, a lot of university teachers in the public universities had indicated their willingness to get back to work while negotiations continue”