The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) has said it will embark on a nationwide protest on July 26-27 in solidarity with unions at Nigerian public universities and others.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba said this in a circular co-signed by Emmanuel Ugboaja, Secretary General of the Congress on Sunday in Abuja.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the circular that was issued on July 15 was addressed to the presidents and secretaries of the NLC state councils.
The University Academic Staff Union (ASUU) and other unions in the education sector have been on strike for more than five months over the government’s alleged failure to honor the agreement signed with the unions.
The demands of the striking workers include issues bordering on university funding, salaries and teachers’ earned allowances.
According to Wabba, the move is in line with the decisions of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigerian Labor Congress on June 30.
“We have scheduled the following National Days of Protest to get our children back to school and support our unions in public universities in Nigeria who are fighting for quality education.
“The dates are July 26 and 27 in all the state capitals of the federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and the starting point is the NLC Secretaries of State and the Labor House, Abuja.
“You are immediately requested to convene the meetings of your SAC to disseminate this information and fully mobilize the workers of the states for this important protest for good governance,” he said.
Additionally, in a separate statement, Mr. Wabba criticized the federal government’s alleged rejection of the Nimi-Briggs Committee’s report on the university union negotiations.
According to him, the alleged action is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the ILO Convention Number 98 ratified by Nigeria and whose central principle is Good Faith Negotiation.
“The Nigerian Labor Congress is concerned about reports widely circulated by both online and offline media that the Federal Government may have rejected its own Nimi-Briggs Committee.
“That under the premise of a supposed disparity between the salary increase assigned to university teaching staff and non-teaching staff.
“First, we wish to posit that the purpose of establishing the Nimi Briggs Committee was to comply with the fundamental principles of trade union rights to collective bargaining guaranteed by ILO Convention No. 98, which Nigeria has ratified.
Mr. Wabba pointed out that one of the cardinal principles of collective bargaining was the Good Luck Bargaining Principle.
He noted that the elements of the principle included engaging in genuine and constructive negotiations.
Mr. Wabba, however, pointed out that since the government set up the Nimi-Briggs Committee to make recommendations on reviewing workers’ salaries in Nigerian universities, the unions and the NLC had not reported on the report of the Committee.
According to him, it is shocking to read media excerpts from a report of what is strictly the product of a negotiation between the Federal Government Committee and the trade unions concerned.
“Our first response is to state that this development seriously betrays and undermines the principle of good luck bargaining as it manifests crass disrespect by the government towards unions in Nigerian universities,” he said.
He said that Congress therefore demanded that the Federal Government should immediately conclude the ongoing negotiation with unions in Nigerian universities.
He also called on the government to be prepared to begin implementation of any Collective Bargaining Agreement that comes out of it.
“They should also immediately pay the salaries of striking university workers who had been frozen under the premise of the so-called ‘no work, no pay’ policy, especially as recommended by the leaders of Nigeria’s two major religions” , said.