The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it is waiting for its lawyers to get professional advice, following the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) preventing it from continuing with the strike.
The President of the Union, Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
The union had embarked on industrial action to push for an improved academic environment and welfare of members.
Some of the professors’ demands are funding for the revitalization of public universities, academic grants obtained, the university transparency responsibility solution (UTAS) and promotion delays.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
The strike is now in its seventh month after the federal government launched a court action to stop it and allow students to resume.
This follows the failure of the government and the union to reach viable agreements.
However, students through the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) have embarked on protests blocking the entrance to the Lagos International Airport and threatened to block other major roads, if the government does not meet the demands.
The NICN granted the order pending the determination of the substantive claim before the court, at the request of the Minister of Labor and Employment, in accordance with his powers, as provided in article 17 of the Law of trade disputes 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Ruling on the application filed by the federal government, the applicant/plaintiff, Justice Polycarp Hamman stated that since the issues in dispute have been referred to the court, he ordered ASUU (the respondents) not to participate in no other strike, pending determination. of the substantive demand.
According to Hamman, the argument of Femi Falana SAN, counsel for the respondents that the applicants act had been concluded is not futile and faces evidence 2 on 29 August 2022.
Attached to the affidavit in support of the claim where the defendants communicated to the Minister of Labor and Employment their decision to extend the strike to an indefinite and total strike, starting at 12:01 a.m. on August 29, 2022 .
Hamman noted that at the time of his sentencing on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the strike action initiated by the defendants on February 14, 2022 had not ended.
He maintained that workers cannot strike when the Minister of Labor has fulfilled the relevant sections of the TDA in the conciliation of a labor dispute.
He commended the minister for acting in the national interest by referring the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
While noting that the balance of convenience is crucial in determining an interlocutory application, Hamman stated that the balance of convenience tilts in favor of the plaintiffs who own the universities and with the best interests of the students in mind , whose parents can’t afford private colleges. in Nigeria or abroad.
He insisted that the strike inflicted irreparable damage on the country’s public university education, lamenting that university students have been out of school for eight months in a country where age is considered for employment and enrollment in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Nigerian. Army, Air Force, Navy and paramilitary organizations.
Justice Hamman dismissed the defendant’s lawyer’s contention that the strike arose out of the federal government’s serial breach of the agreement, saying that since the matter had been referred to the Court Industrial by the Minister of Labor and Employment, the defendants are bound by law not to participate in any further strike, pending the resolution of the substantive issue.
He said: “Section 18, subsection 1 of the TDA, 2004 connotes an obligation, which is mandatory and leaves no room for discretion.
“Section 18 (2) criminalizes any contravention of Section 18 (1) and imposes a fine of N100 or imprisonment of six months for an individual and N1000 for a body corporate.
“In this circumstance and under section 254.6.(1) b of the constitution, section 18 (1) e of the TDA, section 7 (1) e, 16 and 19 b of the Court Act 2006 National Industrial Corporation of Nigeria. , I find this application to be meritorious and the same is granted.”
Judge Hamman further held that Falana’s restatement that the court should grant an expedited hearing of the application in lieu of injunctive relief “is of no moment,” following court rules .
He maintains that the applicants met the requirements for the granting of an injunction, contrary to the claims of Falana SAN.
Reacting inside the courtroom, the Senior Counsel to the Federal Government, James UK Igwe SAN, said: “I thank your Lordship for the judgment which was delivered with unparalleled scholarship, analysis and academic research and which took into account that education was basic to education in Nigeria”.
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