Industrial court directs government to implement 2009 collective agreement with SSANU

Samson Chijioke Ugwoke

Samson Chijioke Ugwoke

The National Industrial Court has directed the Federal Government to fully implement the 2009 collective agreement it entered with the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).

The ruling also directed the Federal Government to fund University Staff schools adequately if it is the proprietor of the Federal Universities and Staff schools as contained in the agreement.

These were contained in the lead judgment delivered by Justice N.N. Esowe on the case instituted by SSANU against the Federal Government and the National Salaries and Wages Income Commission, on the interpretation of the Collective Bargain Agreement.

The court in the judgment stated that any other interpretation or order apart from the above as well as any circular emanating from any other place contrary to the spirit of the agreement was null and void and tantamount to the breach of the agreement.

It further held that the matter before the Industrial Court was for the court to inquire into the trade dispute existing between SSANU and the Federal Ministry of Education and National Salaries Income and Wages Commission over the dispute.

The term of reference from the Minister of Labour to the Industrial Court was for the interpretation of item 10 (1) and (2) of the Collective Agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and SSANU in November 2009 in view of circular of 27th August 2014 issued by the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission.

The Collective Agreement had stated that the Universities shall bear the full capital and current cost of the Universities Primary Schools.Justice Esowe said: “The term of reference to the National Industrial Arbitration Court was to interpret item 10 (1) and (2) of the November 2009 Collective Agreement actually signed on the 5th November 2009 within the contest of the circular issued by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission. What this means is that this court cannot go outside its terms of reference.

“The function of the court here is one of interpretation as such one of a question of law.Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to the National Income, Salaries and Wages Commission, Chigozie Iwuoha said that the government would go through the judgment to analyze it to know the next line of action.

Counsel to SSANU, Wofai Jimmy Robert said: “If the Federal Government fails to abide by the judgment, we would most respectfully consider that as an irresponsibility on the part of the government.

“We believe that this is a country of laws and we have a government that has prided itself in the obedience of laws and the rule of law. If the government feels uncomfortable with the ruling of the court, as their counsel had rightly said in court, they know what to do.”

In his reaction to the judgment, the National President of SSANU, Samson Chijioke Ugwoke, described pronouncement as a landmark judgment.He added: “This is a landmark judgment and I will say that I am happy because, the judiciary is still the last hope of the common man. The judgment of today goes a long way to vindicate SSANU and myself as the President of SSANU.” 

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