The Edo State Government has suspended all union activities in state institutions of higher learning following protest by students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The AAU chapter of ASUU has, however, described the state government’s action as illegal.
The decision to suspend the activities of the unions, which was taken at the State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, is to take immediate effect.
According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, the affected unions include ASUU, Non-Academic Staff of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Non-Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and all allied unions operating in all state-owned tertiary institutions.
Ogie noted that, “By this notice, academic activities are to resume in all state-owned institutions and all cadre of staff are directed to report to their duty posts immediately.
“Students across all state-owned tertiary institutions are expected to resume for lectures as necessary measures have been taken to ensure resumption of academic and non-academic activities.
“Management of the affected institutions have been mandated to pay all outstanding salaries immediately.
“The management of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, is hereby directed to implement a no-work-no-pay policy, declare vacant and advertise the position of any staff that refuses to resume work in line with this directive.”
In an interview with The PUNCH, however, the AAUA ASUU chairman, Cyril Onogbosele, said the state government lacked the power to suspend ASUU’s activities because the union is not registered with the state government.
He said, “We have seen the statement banning the activities of unions in the state institutions including ASUU. ASUU is a legal trade union and we have the right of association in the eyes of the law.
“So, on what basis did he ban the union’s activities? Is it because students protested because the union is on strike?”
Onogbosele said the school management was duly notified of its ongoing strike over the non-payment of its members’ 17-month salary arrears.
“So is he (the governor) saying we don’t have the right to ask for our pay with a strike action? What is illegal in the activity that we have carried out? Is strike not recognised by law as a means to put pressure on employers to address issues?
“These are the views of the union and the action is condemnable. If there are issues, you resolve it with the union and you don’t ban the union’s activities because you don’t want to resolve the pending issues,” he added.