The federal government has described the two-week warning strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as illegal.
The academic body had on Monday declared the warning strike to protest non-payment of salaries of its staff who are not enrolled into federal government’s Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU had also cited among others, non-implementation of the 2013 and 2017 memoranda of understanding (MOU), for its action.
But reacting to strike while addressing journalists after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, said ASUU’s action was illegal.
Ngige noted that ASUU did not give the federal government any notice prior to its warning strike.
He said: “They didn’t give us the mandatory notice before going on strike. So, for a start, this strike is illegal. They said it is a warning striking but there is nothing like warning strike. A strike is withdrawal of services for which you are being paid.
“Then the question will arise; if you don’t go to work, do you want to be paid? Is it not corruption? So this is the dilemma.”
The minister also pointed out why the union would cite the federal government’s IPPIS initiative as one of its reasons for the strike, when both parties had already addressed the issue.
He went on warn members of the union to resume work, adding there’s no way they would be paid without working.
The minister continued: “This is an old story. This story started two years ago when the first presidential directive was given, for all public servants to be captured on the IPPIS so that the federal government will know those that they are paying and to block leakages.
“So if you go on sabbatical, this is government’s position. What you should receive in that other place is an allowance. And allowance has a different portal; that is the portal that doctors are using. So, these allowances are captured but IPPIS will not capture two salaries for one person.
“I was shocked on Monday, when I read and saw some people coming out of the university that lecturers have gone on strike. I have my children in Nigerian universities and I saw them.
“So, to solve the dilemma, I have invited them to the meeting for tomorrow (Thursday). I have invited the minister of education, their principal employer, the finance ministry and the accountant general of the federation.
“So we will meet and discuss the way forward because no employee is empowered to dictate his employer on how he or she should be paid. There is an ILO convention on it.”