By Florence Obiukwu
The Federal Government of Nigeria yesterday heaved a sigh of relief, following the suspension of over a month’s old strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which is only one of many strikes embarked on by trade unions in the country.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President made the announcement at a news conference after the union’s successful meeting with the Federal Government’s delegation in Abuja this Monday.
The union leader said ASSU decided to conditionally suspend the strike in view of the timeline of October 2017 for the implementation of the signed agreement.
According to Ogunyemi, after an elaborate and extensive consultation process, the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU has agreed to conditionally suspend the ongoing action.
“We are taking into cognisance the fact that major proposals from the government to address the contending issues in the strike action has a deadline of the end of October, 2017.
“All members of ASUU are to resume work after their branch congresses on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.
“ However, ASUU will not hesitate to review its position should government renege on the signed Memorandum of Action,” he said.
He urged the government not to deliberately dishonour the agreement, pointing out that the continuous breach of signed agreement has been responsible for the constant industrial actions in the universities.
Ogunyemi said that the current agreement with the government is based on mutual trust between the union and the government, adding that the trust of the union must be respected by the government.
Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, who led the government delegation, for the reconciliatory talks directed all members of the union to return to work after their branch congresses on Tuesday.
Ngige said that members of the union had insisted that they were tired of having agreements that are not implemented.
The minister pointed out that the content of the agreement was taken from the series of meetings with the union since the commencement of the strike.
He said further that both the government and the union understood themselves and agreed on several issues.
He assured the union that the agreement reached would be implemented by the government in line with available resources.
He also said that the union agreed to the exemption offered by the government regarding the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which include the issue of grants, endowment fund as well as salary short fall, which he said is already being implemented by the government.
On the issue of state universities, he said they agreed that the union would submit an advisory paper to the Federal Government on the funding of state universities.
He commended the union members for being patriotic, saying that anyone who demands better working equipment is an undoubted patriot.