The Federal Government and the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities would resume talks next week with a view to ending the prolonged closure of public universities.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige said this at a meeting between the side and the striking National Association of Academic Technologists.
Ngige noted the multiple industrial disputes in the education sector could have been averted if the unions in the sector took advantage of his open door policy like the health unions, which culminated in the peace currently enjoyed in the health sector.
According to a statement on Friday by the acting Head, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Patience Onuobia, the minister, who also decried the rivalry between the education unions, made it clear that everybody is important in the university system.
He assured that the was tackling all the disputes in education sector holistically, knowing fully well that none of the unions could function effectively without the other union.
He said, “If you are from any union, you don’t need to book appointment to see me. The doctors started using that advantage, JOHESU also did the same. That is why the health sector is quiet. But the education unions don’t take advantage of my open door policy.
“We don’t have to cry over spilt milk. Let us look at your issues to see the ones we can handle immediately, the ones we can do in the medium term and the ones we can do in the long term. There are certain ones that are over and above me that are not in my hands to do.
“My job is to prepare an agreement after conciliation on what you have agreed with your employers, the Federal Ministry of Education, put timelines and monitor them, to see whether the results will be there.
“As a conciliator, I manage you people in measured steps. That is why I want to take all of you holistically and I ask for your cooperation. When I finish with you today, I will continue with ASUU next week. I have done NASU and SSANU yesterday and they were happy. I want you people to be happy as we leave here.”
He, however, pointed out that the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement would not be immediate because the education ministry had put in place a committee to handle it.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Andrew Adejo re-emphasised that all the issues in dispute were basically economic, in the sense that everybody wants improved conditions of service.
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