The National Industrial Court has declared the Federal Government’s “no work, no pay” position against the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, legal.
Justice Benedict Kanyip in his judgment on Tuesday, held that ASUU was not entitled to salary during the period it embarked on strike.
The court also insisted that in line with Section 43(1a) of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, ASUU members, who participated in the eight months’ strike were not entitled to salaries.
“Although employers and workers can enter an agreement for which the workers will be paid during the period of a strike action when such agreement was not made, no worker is expected to get paid.”
Justice Kanyip however declared that the Federal Government and the Minister of Education, the claimants in the suit, were wrong to have asked the Court to impose sanctions on ASUU for embarking on a peaceful strike.
The Judge termed it as a gross violation of their rights to freedom of association, as stipulated by the International Labour Organisation, ILO’s jurisprudence.
“There is nothing before the Court to prove that ASUU was not peaceful during the strike,” the Judge said.
“No employee should be victimised or sanctioned for embarking on a peaceful strike.”
The Court also ruled that the claimants could not force ASUU to accept payment of its members’ salaries through Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, so long as they confirm their budgetary allocation.
The Court clarified that because of universities’ autonomy, the claimant’s submission that ASUU’s payment platform system failed the integrity test it was subjected to by NITDA was mere hearsay.
The Court also held that in line with Section 18 of the TDA, no employer should embark on lockout, and no worker shall embark on an industrial action when a trade dispute is apprehended, and reconciliation is ongoing.
“Section 43(2) of the Trade Dispute Act, which gives sole powers to the Minister to determine if there has been a lockout by an employer, falls contrary to section 6 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“The determination of a lockout is for the Court to decide and not for the executive arm of the government.”
Justice Kanyip concluded that concerning the declaration sought by the claimants, the Court ruled that since the strike had been called off on the order of the same Court, it would not go beyond the presiding judge’s ruling.
The claimants in the suit had dragged ASUU before the Court to determine the substantive suit filed during the union’s eight-month strike in 2022.
The claimants had also sought the interpretation and application of some TDA formulated through six questions, six reliefs and six determinations.