The Federal Government has withdrawn the recent threat to activate the 'no work no pay policy' against striking university teachers.
This was disclosed by the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an exclusive chat with Vanguard yesterday.
Ogunyemi also said that the negotiation meeting between ASUU and the Federal Government would continue tomorrow, stressing that what the union was doing was to rescue the education sector from imminent collapse and to ensure that the children of the poor get access to quality and affordable education.
The ASUU boss also said that last Friday's meeting between the two parties did not yield much results.
He said: "Well, we have confirmed that they have withdrawn that threat (no work no pay). So it appears the threat is not there for now. But even if the threat is there, we are prepared for that because for our members, no sacrifice is too much to salvage Nigeria's education.
"Shortly before our action while the NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) hullabaloo was going on with federal government, they went to the Federal Executive Council that they were activating that rule."
Meanwile, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN said yesterday: "Although the Federal Government referred to "extant rules" to justify the 'no work, no pay' policy the directive is anchored on section 43 (1) of the Trade Disputes Act which provides that "any worker who takes part in a strike shall not be entitled to any wages or other remuneration for the period of the strike... ". In resorting to the desperate measure the Federal Government was not properly advised. Otherwise, it would have realized that even under the defunct military junta the application of 'no work no pay' rule, threat to eject lectures living in official quarters, promulgation of a decree which made strike in schools a treasonable offence and the proscription of ASUU did not collapse any of the strikes called by ASUU.
"It is submitted that the latest strike embarked upon by ASUU has complied with the provisions of section 31 (6) of the Trade
Disputes (Amendment) Act, 2005. Since the law does not punish acts which are lawful in any democratic society section 43(1) of the Trade Disputes Act cannot be invoked to justify the seizure of the salaries and allowances of members of the ASUU who have decided to participate in an industrial action that is legal in every material particular. Under the current labour law regime only those who take part in illegal strikes are liable to be prosecuted and forfeit their salaries and allowances.