The MInister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, says only the National Industrial Court (NIC) can guide the Federal Government on what to do with the withheld eight month salaries of varsity teachers.
The minister, who spoke in Abuja yesterday, said the government was awaiting the NIC decision on whether it should pay the arrears to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) or not.
Ngige said: “The matter is in court. We are waiting for the court to call us back. It is part of the substantive issues remitted to the court for pronouncement; whether they can be paid that (eight months withheld salary arrears) or not.
“The court has not called us. It is when the court calls us and we appear that the issue of out of court settlement or alternative dispute resolution will arise.”
According to the minister, he has not met with the leadership of ASUU since the matter was referred to the NIC.
“Only the court can direct resumption of negotiation with the leadership of ASUU,” Dr. Ngige said.
But activist lawyer and counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana (SAN), urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the payment of the eight salaries to the lecturers who were on strike between February and October.