Festus Keyamo, the Minister of State for Labour, has explained why it has been difficult for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government to reach a compromise on the lingering industrial action.
ASUU on Monday resolved to continue its ongoing nationwide strike for another 12 weeks which started on February 14, 2022 after several reconciliation meetings between both parties hit brick walls.
But speaking in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, at a press conference to herald a year-long activities to mark the 40years anniversary of the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), the minister said the ASSU strike has turned a strife that has worsened the education sector.
According to him, “Labour disputes are highly technical issues and need the relevant technical requirements and knowledge to interrogate.
“The issue here are two, dispute of rights and dispute of interests. Among the demands of ASUU is the issue of stagnant payment which I also fully support. In fact, it is embarrassing for a Prof to be receiving N350,000 as monthly salary although minimum wage should only be for the rock bottom workers. These are issue of right.
“The real conflict is between ASUU and the Ministry of Education. Issues of funding and other agitations are dispute of interest which need a different approach, not to go on strike Even if you go on strike over dispute of rights, how long can that last is another question.
“Strike is temporary stoppage of work but when you go on strike for 22 months and you shut down the system, that has become a strife.”
The minister, who was represented by the Director General of MINILS, Comrade Isa Aremu, said the institute has mapped out new courses on dispute and dialogue, adding that the situation could have been worse if not for the efforts of the institute.