Contrary to statement credited to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige that the striking non-teaching staff in Nigerian universities were given timeline of Monday February 15, 2021, to call off the ongoing strike following the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU reached with the government, the workers have said that suspension of the strike on Monday would not be possible.
The Joint Action Committee, JAC, of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) had met with the Federal Government delegation last week over a seven-point demands that necessitated the indefinite strike embarked upon by the two unions on February 5, after the expiration of the deadline to government to address the concerns raised by the unions.
Reports had it that the meeting between the two parties last week ended without any amicable resolution, but the Federal Government team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige debunked the report, saying that the two parties entered into MoU on five of the contentious issues.
The Minister also said that the two unions were told to consult with their organs and call off the strike before or by February 15.
A statement issued by the deputy director and head of press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan had quoted Senator Ngige as saying, “The meeting did not end in deadlock.
“Rather, agreements were reached on some issues with timelines, and these were documented as Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, and given to leaders of the two unions to go and consult their people with a view to calling off the strike latest by Monday, February 15, 2021.”
He added that five issues discussed had agreements, while only one had a proposal, which was a government proposal for the unions to go back and discuss with their organs.
But speaking with the media over the weekend on the possibility of suspending the 10-day old strike on February 15, National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim said they were not miracle workers to have finished the meeting on the evening on Friday, then call off the strike on Monday.
Ibrahim said, “We had the meeting on Thursday and Friday and we got the draft on the Memorandum on Friday and how could we have met with our organs and call of the strike on Monday? Except you want us to perform some miracle. It does not work that way.
“We took what they gave us on Friday between 4pm to 5pm, how would we call our organs and get their inputs?
“It is true we met and it is also true government has presented a position and we have told them that we don’t have the power to suspend strike because you are aware that the strike was declared by our congress.
“We have invited our leaders in all the branches to meet with us on Wednesday and they are coming into Abuja from different parts of the country to consider the offer.
“The people that declared the strike are the people to call off the strike and not the leaders. The leaders cannot call off strike.”
“Our organs were the ones that declared the strike, we have a process and the process must be followed so that we will have a reasonable and respectable solution.”
It was gathered that what was given to the two unions was a draft of MoU and they were expected to go through it and make observations if any.
According to findings, the clean copy had not been returned to the unions for their signature as at the time of filing this report.