NLC Backs Sustained ASUU Strike, Blames Government

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has blamed the federal and state governments for the plethora of strikes currently going on by different unions in the country due to the failure of the governments to abide by agreements reached with the unions through collective bargaining.
This is as it expressed support for the sustained indefinite strike by its affiliate; Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The acting General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. Chris Uyot, in a telephone interview yesterday, lamented that several unions, especially in the education sector had embarked on strike or are threatening to go on strike all for the same reasons as ASUU due to the failure of government to respect agreements.
He added that ASUU strike deserved more attention than it is currently receiving as it has to do with the improvement of facilities and improvements of the standard of education in the country.
“ASUU is our affiliate and for every step they have taken, we have been with them, we have been briefed. The NLC is as invested in this case as ASUU itself. The vice-president has been appointed to take over the negotiations and the ball is now in the court of the government as it were. We do not think that the government has given it the type of attention it deserves,” he said.
Uyot described as unfortunate the practice where governments enter willing agreements with unions through collective bargaining, and refuses to respect or uphold its end of the agreement. This, he said, negates the concept of the rule of law and order, which the government is currently championing.
“The essence of negotiations for collective bargaining to bring about an agreement is to ensure that there is peace and harmony in the workplace, to bring about better understanding between employers and employees. So if we decide to manipulate agreements, agreements that have come through mutual negotiations, we are distorting the very concept of industrial relations which is the foundation of peace and harmony and stability in the workplace. It means we are trying to distort our own laws that guide these things,” he added.
Uyot continued: “The world this day is guided by social dialogue and one of the tenets of social dialogue is mutual respect for agreements that have been entered by the partners. When you want to extricate the outcome of something that came through social dialogue, then you are invariably calling for chaos. Both federal and state governments seem to be more interested in violations of agreements and this is the major cause of industrial crises.”
The acting General Secretary expressed the readiness of the labour movement to honour agreements entered though collective bargaining and urged the government to have a rethink and start to act according to agreements.
“On our part as labour, we are ready at anytime to respect agreements that are mutually reached, but government is making it a tradition to disrespect the same agreement; you cannot run a workplace e or a country like that.
“Government needs to rethink the issue of collective agreements seriously. We feel sad that the country has been made to experience these problems because our leaders are running a system that respects the same laws which they have set,” Uyot added.