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FG Gives CONUA, NAMDA Full Power To Operate


FG Gives CONUA, NAMDA Full Power To Operate

Tribune Online

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on Tuesday empowered the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical Doctors in Academics (NAMDA) with copies of their certificate of registration, charging them to fully operate as trade unions in the education sector.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who moderated the certificate issuance ceremony in his office in Abuja, hinted that the registration of the two unions followed due process and smoothly as the “Labour Ministry received no letter from any existing union rejecting the registration of CONUA and NAMDA even when the gazetting of the union was published in the national dailies.”

Ngige went on to charge CONUA and NAMDA not to shut down Nigeria’s tertiary education like ASUU did by embarking on an indefinite strike.

“Don’t behave like ASUU. ASUU wanted to close down government business and we said no. There are consequences to strike. If you go on strike, the law is clear: no salary for you.

“If you have issues, negotiate with government, your employer. Be responsible in your demands. Education is essential service, therefore, no one should decide to shut it down for any reason.

“I also advise government not to enter into any agreement it will not be ready to keep. Government must also keep to agreement. That is the principle of free bargaining.

“That was why we couldn’t sign the agreement contained in ASUU demand. There was nowhere government will go and bring over a trillion naira to give ASUU.”

Further, the Minister noted that such a long strike as that happened in the tertiary education sector in 2022 will never in Nigeria again.

“With what we have done, no Minister or government official will sign any agreement that will not be possible to implement. Unless the labour ministers after me choose to do contrary to the principles of free bargaining.”

Ngige further told the representatives of the new unions to without further delay, “hold National Delegates Conference and elect new officers.”

The Minister added; “Don’t fight with other unions in the university system…cooperate with NASU, SSANU, NAAT and others. Don’t claim superiority over other unions.”

In his response, CONUA’s National President, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, praised Minister for his efforts. He further said to the Minister, “Our concern is on the further withheld of CONUA members’ eight months’ salary. We did not call for strike neither did we go on strike. We call for an end to the withheld of salaries of our members.”

The CONUA President explained that his members were rather locked off the universities by ASUU against their will to continue rendering teaching services to the students.

His words, “Section 43(1b) of the Trade Disputes Act says “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remuneration for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment.”

“In other words, there is no moral nor legal basis for the “No Work, No Pay policy to be applied to CONUA members, because we were only unable to perform our full duties due to the lock-out arising from the shutdown of the universities by university authorities who directed students to vacate the campuses.

“In this regard, even though we earlier put on notice that we shall go to any mile to seek legal redress on the payment of the withheld salaries, however, we note the salutary steps being taken recently by the FG to ensure justice for CONUA members with respect to the withheld salaries.

“In this regard, we would continue to appeal to the Honorable Minister to use the powers vested in him by Section 43(2) of the Trade Dispute Act CAP.TS: “If any question should arise as to whether there has been a lock-out for the purpose of this section, the question shall on application to the Minister by the workers or their representatives be determined by the Minister whose decision shall be final.”

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