In continued efforts by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to challenge the payment of half salaries to its members for the month of October, a counsel to the union, Femi Falana, has urged the Federal Government to stop provoking varsities lecturers.
According to Ripples Nigeria, this came amid reports that the Federal Government might commence the payment of backlogs of salaries to the factional academic unions, the Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), registered during the ASUU strike.
Falana, who spoke during a Channels Television Programme, Politics Today on Tuesday night, said the ‘no work, no pay’ policy was not applicable to university lecturers.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment had said the payment of half salaries for the month of October was done on a pro-rata basis.
In response, Falana said the attempt by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, to pay members of factional unions would amount to provoking ASUU members.
The legal luminary advised the Federal Government to follow the provisions of the law and do the needful in order to prevent another industrial action by the union.
He also charged the national industrial court to always take into consideration issues and circumstances leading to the strike before taking any steps.
He said: “We all have a duty. All of us must prevail on the government to stop provoking lecturers. In fact, the most embarrassing aspect is the surreptitious move by the minister of labour and employment to pay members of the two unions illegally registered during the strike. The government has concluded the arrangements to pay them. It will have itself to blame if it does that.
“The hands of the government are not tight. And I have challenged the minister to justify the payment of other employees who had gone on strike before now, particularly the medical doctors.
“The members of the ruling class, including those campaigning all over the place, to address this matter rather frontally. It’s not good for lecturers, workers and others to be forced to embark on strike in the country. The government has a duty to address the problem that leads to strikes.
Our courts must also take into cognizance of the facts and circumstances of every given strike so that the orders of the courts can be fully complied with. The industrial court must also utilize its arbitration channel to promote industrial peace between employers and employees.”