The Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) has called on the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities to embrace collective bargaining as there was no way progress would be made without quality education.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President said this at a conciliation meeting with Executive of ASUU, officials of the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.
“It is a very important issue that ought to drive the process of our development because world over, there is no way progress can be made without quality education, that is the centrality of the issue.
“All of us are here with much more commitment to see that the issues are resolved and through our process of collective bargaining.
“It is very cardinal in addressing issues of industrial relations and when agreements are signed, we must find ways and means of implementing them and thereby minimising area of industrial activities.
“The expectation of all of us as Nigerians is that we will put these issues beyond us and then drive our process of development forward.
“So that all of us with open mind and very good will to see how these process can be resolved as it is a process that is time tested and we hope it will produce a win-win result situation for all, ‘’he said.
Also Sen. Chris Ngige, said that the meeting was convened to resolve rough edges to enable the union call off its strike.
According to him, strike is approaching one month and that it is adversely affecting the academic calendar of the universities.
“So the major essence of our reconvening today is to see that areas of mistrust are broken down between the government side and yourself so that we can have some kind of bargaining agreement
on the way forward, so that the school system will come back to life.
“The children can take their exams, degrees or promotional exams, ‘’he said.
He noted there are urgent issues at hand that were mandatory for all to fashion out ways of resolving them.
Ngige said that reconciliation meeting was recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and that there was need for to dialogue.
He said that social dialogue was one of the cardinal principle in Labour and industrial dispute and to that extent all must feel free to look at any agreement previously made and fashion out ways of implementation.
“If there are impediments we will all put heads together and resolve them.
“By God’s guidance, we will assist in making life better for our students and lecturers, parents and the entire people of Nigeria,” he said.
Also, Mr Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU president commended the ministers for the observations on the letters that were exchanged between the union and the government.
“We have conveyed the position and feeling of our members on the issues in contention via a letter dated Aug, 28 and we were also in receipt of government’s position in response to our letter.
“Our members have also come with open mind in that government will play its own part to reassure our members that their observations are going to be attended to,” he said.
Ogunyemi said that once the contentious issues were resolved the union would be willing to go back to its members in earnest to final decision.
Malam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, said that the two most contending issues were the allowances and the revivalisation of the universities system.
“I think we have already reached agreement on one and I hope we will be able to reach agreement on the other,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that at the time of filling this report the meeting, which started at about 1:30 pm, was still in progress, behind closed doors.(NAN)