The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) has reacted a court ruling which order the lecturers to call of the lingering strike and resume work immediately.
Justice Polycarp Hamman held that the strike was a breach of the Section 18(1)(2) of the Trade Disputes Act, which prohibits their action.
He said the use of “shall” in the Act connotes mandatory provision not to embark on the strike pending the determination of the main suit before the court.
The Judge further held that the industrial action is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
The judge noted that the strike has caused irreparable damage to the careers of many students in Nigeria.
Subsequently, the court suspended the ASUU strike citing its discretionary powers over trade union disputes.
However reacting to the court order on wednesday, The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said it is set to appeal the order by the National Industrial Court (NIC) directing the suspension of its seven months old strike.
“In a terse statement sent to members of the union on Wednesday by the Chairman of Lagos Zone of ASUU, Adelaja Odukoya,” urged them to “remain calm.”
The union said its lawyer is already filing an appeal.
Renowned human rights activist, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is the counsel to ASUU.
The statement by ASUU is titled; “NIC Back to Work Order on ASUU: Be Calm.” It urged members and Nigerians to remain united, even as it suggested that the order would be vacated.
The statement reads in part; “Our Comrade President, Comrade Victor Osodeke, has urged members of our Great Union to remain calm as there is no cause for alarm on the back to work order delivered earlier today.
“Our lawyer is filing an appeal and stay of execution of the judgment. Members should remain resolute and strong. A people united can never be defeated. Solidarity without compromise.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students and the National Coordinator of Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Hassan Soweto, have reacted to the industrial court order.
Mr Soweto described the court verdict as unfair and shameful, saying it is a confirmation of his belief that “the judiciary is simply an arm of the apparatus of the capitalist state, just as the police and the army.”
He called on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to declare a 48-hour nationwide warning strike in reaction to the court order.
He said the Nigerian court’s role “is to defend the interest of the corrupt ruling elite who are busy stealing the money required to fund public education.”
He said; “At this stage, all we can say is that our solidarity with ASUU on its resolve to fight for adequate funding of public universities remains unshakeble despite this court order.
“We urge the NLC and TUC not to allow the government use the court to frustrate the legitimate struggle of ASUU. We call on the labour movement to respond to this unfair court order by escalating action into a 48 hour warning general strike and mass protest.”