© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
ASUU strike: Stop threatening us with no-work, no-pay rule, NLC warns FG
THE leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the Federal Government to stop threatening striking workers with no-work, no-pay rule as a means of getting the workers to abandon the strike.
The Congress was reacting to a directive by the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission (NUC) to implement the no-work, no-payment rule against the members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who have been on strike since November 5, 2018.
The ICIR reported that the Federal Government in a letter dated November 29, 2018, signed by Ramon Yusuf, the NUC Director of Research, Innovation and Information Technology and addressed to Vice Chancellors of Federal Universities and Directors of Inter-University Centre, directed management of the universities to pay the salaries and allowances of only non-teaching staff.
The lecturers vowed that they would not return to the classrooms except the government implemented the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the union in 2017.
But NLC in a statement issued on Tuesday by its Acting President, Lawal Dutsinma demanded an immediate release of workers’ salaries withheld on the account of “No Work… No Pay” rule.
“We warn government at all levels to desist from using the “No Work… No Pay” rule to shirk away from their responsibilities,”Dutsinma said.
“Our children have suffered enough already! Enough is enough,” he added.
He said the government should respect agreements it freely entered into with ASUU in order to restore normalcy and sanity to public institutions of learning especially, universities.
While noting that the Federal Government might have rescinded the order, NLC said Nigerian workers were worried that the Federal Government and many state governments have resorted to bullying and draconian threats in dealing with matters that strictly reside in the domain of industrial relations.
“This is truly sad, highly unfortunate and extremely provoking,” Dustinma said.
He lamented that the no-work, no payment threat issued by the government against ASUU members was not the first time the government was taking such autocratic decision to cow workers into silence.
“During the last warning strike by the NLC on the new national minimum wage, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige issued a “No Work… No Pay” threat against workers.
“Also, during the last nationwide strike action by health workers, the Federal Government did not only issue a “No Work… No Pay” threat, it went ahead to implement it. Till now, the government still withholds about three months of salaries due to health workers,” he recalled,
The Congress described the application of the “No Work… No Pay” rule as an autocratic attempt to cow workers into abandoning their legitimate demand for decent wages, conducive workspaces and social justice.
“As far as we are concerned, the government’s invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act is selective, erroneous and hypocritical,” he said.
Workers, Dutsinma noted stand the higher moral ground to invoke a “No Pay… No Work” action, given the fact that the Federal Government and many state governments are owing varying arrears of salaries, allowances, pension and gratuity.
He emphasized that Nigerian workers will never accept slavery in their own country noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right protected by laws and international conventions particularly ILO Convention 87.
“It is the right to strike that distinguishes a worker from a slave. Do we need to remind the government at all levels that Nigerian workers are worthy partners in nation building and not slaves?”