Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and employment has disclosed that the federal government is adopting a new approach to resolving the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
The former governor of Anambra State said that voluntary conciliation was adopted instead of arbitration so as not to delay the resolution process with the striking lecturers.
Ngige made this known on Tuesday at a 3-day human capacity building workshop on International Labour Standards and Dispute Resolution in Nigeria held in Abuja.
“I could have transmitted the matter to the IAP or the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
“But I used my discretion to weigh the situation to know if it would cause more delay in the resolution of the dispute in a court process,” he said.
The minister explained that the voluntary conciliation commenced on February 22, and March 1, as an approach to addressing the ASUU strike that started on February 14.
“The two outstanding issues were the conditions of service, which according to the 2009 Agreement, would be reviewed every four years.
“The last review was in 2013 and we started the review in 2018 under Wale Babalakin as the chairman of the renegotiation committee. We couldn’t conclude because Babalakin left.
“A new committee headed by Munzali came. Munzali finished his work and put in his report at the Federal Ministry of Education.” Ngige said.
Ngige also stated that all the committees, including the previous Onosode committee, were all internal committees of the ministry of education.
“Once the committees finish, their products are sent up.
“The major issue here is salary and wage review.That’s where they were before ASUU embarked on strike.
“If a party wants us to transmit a matter back to them to have a second look, you assist them. That’s what you call voluntary conciliation.
“It’s voluntary because if I apprehend and bring all the parties to the negotiation table and a party requests that I should take the matter to NICN, I’ll do so,” he noted.
The International Labour Standards and Dispute Resolution workshop is being organised by the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).