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15 Nov 2018

FG, ASUU hold crucial meeting over strike today

The Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment and leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities are expected to meet in Abuja on Thursday over the strike in public universities since November 5.

PUNCH correspondent confirmed on Wednesday’s that the Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, would meet with ASUU executives led by the National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in Abuja to review the September 2017 Memorandum of Action.

ASUU said during its National Executive Council meeting in Akure, Ondo State, on  November 4 that it asked its members to resume strike because of certain unimplemented areas in the 2017 MoA, which suggested the Federal Government’s insincerity to the demands by the lecturers.

The PUNCH exclusively reported on Tuesday that the ministries of Labour and Employment as well as Education had yet to reply to the letters written by ASUU since November 5.

PUNCH correspondent learnt that the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the same day, Tuesday, wrote  ASUU inviting the union leaders to a meeting today.

Ogunyemi confirmed to our correspondent that the union would meet with the Federal Government’s delegation today.

He said, “Yes, the government wrote  us on Tuesday, inviting us to a meeting on Thursday.”

A top ASUU member, who does not want his name in print, added that the meeting would focus on reviewing the 2017 Memorandum of Action and renegotiating the unimplemented areas.

He said, “We guess that,  apart from the Ministry of Labour and Employment’s delegation, there will also be representatives from the Ministry of Education at the meeting. You know what the labour ministry always says is that they are mediators. They bring the parties together to facilitate the resolutions of the crisis.

“The meeting will look at all the issues we have raised, both in the memorandum and even in the media.”

PUNCH correspondent obtained a copy of the 2017 Memorandum of Action, which will be reviewed by the two parties and the memorandum highlighted the seven-point issues in dispute.

They are the funding of revitalisation of universities, earned academic allowances, staff schools, pension matters, salary shortfalls, Treasury Single Account exemption and state universities.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Federal Government Implementation Committee of the FG/ASUU agreement, Dr Wale Babalakin, has said ASUU must come to the negotiating table for permanent solutions to the issues, based on verifiable data.

Babalakin, while speaking in an interview, said the team remained committed to resolving the recurrent disputes militating against the progress of the tertiary education sector.

He said, “Information available is that the government manages to pay the salaries and sometimes the basic overheads of federal universities.”

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