The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) expressed its unhappiness with the Federal Government, namely the Ministry of Labour and Employment, regarding the failure to pay the withholding wage of its members and threatened to take legal action.
Chris Ngige, minister of labor and employment, is alleged to have given certificates of registration to CONUA and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Lecturers in Academics (NAMDA) during the peak of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike in October in an effort to weaken ASUU’s position.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the president of CONUA, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, claimed that despite the government’s knowledge that its members were not participating in the eight-month strike, their paychecks were still being withheld.
The Trade Disputes Act CAP. T8’s Section 43 (1b) states that “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remunerations for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment.” He claimed that the non-payment of their withheld salaries violated this provision.
“This provision adheres to international best practices. We have decided to seek legal redress for the illegal withholding of our legitimate salaries by taking the matter to court in accordance with the rights guaranteed by our laws, in light of the aforementioned and as a law-abiding union that pledged to do things differently, he said.
In a letter to Ngige in April 2022, CONUA formally informed the Federal Government of its non-participation in the strike. This was followed by a press conference in Abuja on August 19, 2022, where it was categorically stated that CONUA was not a part of any strike that was currently in progress and that the “No Work, No Pay” principle should not apply to union members.
According to the statement, the union had written to the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Accountant-General of the Federation to remind them that it was incorrect to group their members with those who had called and begun a strike action.
“It was yet another shock that our members didn’t receive the outstanding backlog of salaries along with the November 2022 salary,” he stated.