From Romanus Ugwu

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended the judgement of the National Industrial Court (NIC) on the trade dispute between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The party’s National Vice Chairman (North West), Salihu Moh Lukman, commended the judgement delivered by Justice Polycap Hamman in a statement he issued in Abuja on Wednesday.

Lukman urged the federal government to convert the seven months salary arrears it owes the lecturers to scholarship for the students.

He insisted that every step must be taken to enforce the judgement of Justice Hamman, lamenting that the last seven months have been traumatic for parents and innocent students.

“The NIC judgement is a vindication of the position I expressed last year when NLC National leadership organised a so-called one-week warning strike against Kaduna State government and Resident Doctors led by National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) were also on strike, at the same time. Faced with clearly avoidable strikes.

Related: ASUU to appeal NICN judgment, asks members to remain calm

“Imaging that processes of mediation, conciliation and compulsory adjudication by Ministry of Labour as provided under the Trade Dispute Act immediately ASUU served notice of strike. Certainly, a judgement by either Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and NIC would have been obtained before the commencement of the strike.

“Sadly, here we are, the same judgement that would have been delivered before the strike commences on February 14 is only obtained about seven months into the strike.

“Better late than never. However, the demand must be made clearly, never again should Ministry of Labour abdicate from its responsibility of arresting strikes based on ability to activate processes of mediation, conciliation and compulsory adjudication.

“The Ministry of Labour must be reformed to discharge these functions effectively and efficiently. Democracy is about rule of law. At all times, laws must be activated to regulate conducts of citizens and government officials.

“Every step must be taken to enforce the judgement of Justice Hamman. The last seven months have been traumatic for parents and innocent students. Everything must be done to bring to immediate end the sufferings and hardships being inflicted by the seven months strike,” he said.

On what to do with the salary arrears, he said: “The debate about whether government should pay ASUU members for the seven months they are on strike should be treated based on the provisions of their employment contract.

“Anything to the contrary will amount to encouraging ASUU, and by extension other unions to engage processes of collective bargaining based on blackmail antics and show of crude power. This must be discouraged.

“If government will at all consider any payment, it should be to compute what ASUU members could have earned during the period and pay it to students as scholarship or some sorts of compensation for the ‘irreparable damages to their careers’ occasioned by the strike.

“In fact, ASUU members should voluntarily and willingly accept this as part of the discharge of their community service function,” he quipped.

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Source: news