THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has denied that it reached an agreement with the federal government to suspend its ongoing strike on December 9, 2020.
The Union insisted that contrary to insinuation to that effect, there was never an understanding with the government that it would suspend the over 9 months old action on the said date.
President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi in a statement made available to newsmen Wednesday night, said ASUU representatives do not have the powers to suspend or call off industrial action but must follow due process which includes transmitting the outcome of negotiations to members and National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU for further deliberations and actions.
While noting that ASUU was willing to cooperate with concerned authorities to ensure suspension of the strike once the welfare and wellbeing of ASUU members and survival of public universities were sufficiently guaranteed, he said It was a needless crisis which had happened because the government consistently failed to faithfully implement the Agreements it freely signed with the union.
In his words: “The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been inundated with enquiries on why the ongoing strike action has not been suspended. This was sequel to the widely reported claims by some government agents that all the demands of ASUU have been met and that the union agreed to suspend the strike action today, 9th December 2020. Nothing can be farther from the truth!
“To put the records straight, the Principal Officers and Trustees who constitute the core of representatives of ASUU at negotiation meetings with the government are not constitutionally empowered to suspend any strike action. Whatever comes out of an engagement with agents of the government is an offer that must be taken back to the branches through the various organs of the union.
“Views and perspectives on offers by governments are aggregated and presented to government agents as counter-offers. This trade union strategy of offer and counter-offer is continually deployed until the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU – consisting of all recognised chairpersons – finally approves what it considers an acceptable offer from the government. It is only then that any strike action by ASUU can be suspended.
“The ASUU leadership did not reach any understanding with the government to suspend the strike on 9th December 2020 and there is nothing in the government offer of 27th November 2020 to suggest that conclusion as allegedly claimed by the Minister of Labour and Employment.
“The leadership of ASUU has consistently stated at every meeting with high ranking government officials that the union’s representatives have no mandate to take the final decision on any strike action by the union. All the leadership does is to present government offers through its organs, and that we have done faithfully in the current situation.
“ASUU members, as stakeholders in the Nigerian University System, are equally worried and embarrassed that those in the position of authority, over the years, displayed seeming indifference to the rot and decay in Nigeria’s public universities. We think it is not too late to do a rethink. We believe if there is the will, there will be away.”