BusinessDay

ASUU half salary: Manifestation of executive rascality

Section 43(1) (a) of the Trade laws states that where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wage or other remunerations for the period of the strike, and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment, and all rights dependent on the continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly.

The Federal Government is riding on this provision of the trade law to deprive the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) their rights by paying them part of their October salary. A fact remains that this Labour Act was enacted some years back to protect the low-income earners who are at the bottom ladder of employment. These are those we would ordinarily call labourers.

Labourers are those with scheduled time frames of work/service, and are always at the receiving end because they cannot defend themselves. A lecturer is by no standard a labourer, just as the doctor cannot be called a labourer. The Labour Act as it were, is not for higher professions such as doctors and lecturers.

We encourage the government to embrace dialogue as against intimidations in seeking solutions to the impasse between it and ASUU. For ASUU, the lecturers must realise that when you choose to fight a person, you do not have the right to decide where and how the person will hit you

This is so, because this class of people do not have a defined time of service. For instance, a lecturer can schedule his class on Saturday or Sunday, and can even be marking scripts while in his house, hence, you cannot pin down his service hours. A labourer has service hours, and that is why you can talk of overtime in work hours.

For the Federal Government to cash in on this law to deny the lecturers their salary is nothing but a manifestation of executive rascality, and shows low rating of education by the current Nigerian government and lack of respect for lecturers and insensitivity to their plight as family-men.

“By virtue of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, during strikes, workers are not supposed to be paid. But the law has to be interpreted having regards to the facts and circumstances of every strike.”

Going by this, we want to say that the position of the Federal Government on the matter is “factually faulty and legally misleading,” according to a legal expert.

It is quite regrettable that even members of the ruling party are not helping issues. A chieftain of the party was once quoted as saying that it is unfortunate that the country has created a destructive culture, whether ASUU works or not, as long as they are on strike, whenever they resume, they get paid.

He encouraged the presidency not to pay the striking lecturers, but the truth remains that even during the military era, this draconian law was not applied against the lecturers. We ask then, why is it now under a democratic government that Nigeria is experiencing such an oppressive approach to governance? Apart from the speaker of the House of Representatives, other leaders of the APC seem to have fallen asleep at a time like this.

Read also: Mixed reactions trail FG’s part salary payment to ASUU

We think and believe that the time has come for the labour law to be re-enacted, and the position of the lecturers and other professions well explained when it comes to the ‘no work, no pay’ rule. The nature of the law as it is today has made it possible for individuals and the government to interpret it to suit their yearnings, and this should not be.

For instance, the law did not take cognisance of these lecturers (workers) who on resumption must go back to deal with the workload left undone for the period of the strike.

Besides, we believe the lecturers are the worst enemy of themselves for allowing the government to split them into groups. Why forming CONUA? To whose interest is the body? Well, a fact remains that a house divided against itself can never stand. The lecturers need a rethink in order to remain a formidable union.

We encourage the government to embrace dialogue as against intimidations in seeking solutions to the impasse between it and ASUU. For ASUU, the lecturers must realise that when you choose to fight a person, you do not have the right to decide where and how the person will hit you.

We commend the lecturers for resolving not to engage in another strike, at least for now, while waiting for the outcome of Gbajabiamila’s intervention.

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