Government yet to get strike notice from ASUU, says Ngige



‘Aware of economic hardship on Nigerians’

The Federal Government is yet to get a notice of strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), over the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has said.

Speaking on the rumour of impending strike by the university lecturers, Ngige explained that neither ASUU nor the Federal Ministry of Education has notified him of any labour dispute.

He said: “When we do so, we shall look into the matter – the ground of agitation by ASUU. This will include of course dialoguing with both parties; we are conciliators and rest assured, we are working relentlessly to ensure industrial harmony.”

In the mean time, the Minister also said government is not unaware of the economic hardship Nigerians, especially workers, are passing through at this time.

He spoke through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Clement Illoh, while presenting a keynote address on a National dialogue on future of work initiative organised by the Ministry, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in Abuja..

The Minister said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is fully aware of the high rate of unemployment and underemployment, and the need to combat it through diversification of the economy.

He explained: “It is critical to state that the National Dialogue on Future of Work Initiatives has become very imperative for Nigeria as a country, in order to develop strategies for addressing the various challenges and changes, which have emerged in the world of work over the years. Such challenges include among others: climate change, casualisation, contract work, information and communication technology, and working from home, outsourcing.

The Minister emphasized that the ILO, pursuant to its objective of humanising work, which will be celebrated at its centenary anniversary in 2019, initiated four thematic areas that will guide member countries in responding to the dialogue on the future of work initiative. These are work and society, decent jobs for all, organisation for work and production, and governance at work.

While emphasizing that the national dialogue cannot be over-emphasized, Ngige noted that apart from opening window of opportunities for the advancement of ILO’s mandate for social justice through engagement of all stakeholders to debate and contribute to the reflection on the future of work. It will also establish a High-level Commission on the Future of Work that will organise activities at the 108th Session of the ILO Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2019, during its centenary, where the Report of the Commission will be discussed.

He further said it is very imperative to note the outcome of the dialogue, aside from serving as an input into the High-level Commission’s Report in 2017, it will also serve as a roadmap for addressing the challenges of unemployment in the country. He emphasized that the present administration is strongly committed to the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic development, productive employment and creation of decent jobs for the teeming youths.

The Permanent Secretary was in turn represented by the Acting Director, Productivity Management and Standard Department in the Ministry, Ms Nene Dike. He commended the ILO for initiating the National Dialogue on the Future of Work, aimed at developing strategies to meet the policy changes in the world of work, to be presented at the culminating event marking 100 years of ILO existence.

Dr. Illoh said it was pertinent to state that one of the expected outcomes of the National Dialogue is to provide a roadmap for addressing the impacts of the multidimensional changes in the world of work. He urged the participants to adopt strategic thinking in arriving at reasoned national document that will contribute to repositioning the Nigerian economy.

The Director of ILO Country Office in Nigeria, Dr. Dennis Zulu, said the main objectives of the Initiative is to generate a better understanding of the forces transforming the world of work, and the implications for governments, workers and employers. It will provide a constructive forum for the exchange of ideas and information between the tripartite constituents as well as other key stakeholders in the formulation of policies and new approaches. Also, to articulate and promote policy alternatives, innovative partnerships and good practices that can be replicated by governments, employers and workers and other key partners.

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