The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been asked by the federal government to withdraw its objection to the registration of two new academic unions in the public university system of Nigeria. This request was delivered to the NLC by the federal government.
Sen. Chris Ngige, who serves as the minister of labor and employment, made the request in a statement that was distributed on Tuesday in Abuja by Mr. Olajide Oshundun, who serves as the head of press and public relations for the ministry.
The Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics and the Congress for Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) are reportedly the names of the two new unions, as reported by various sources of news (NAMDA).
Recent reports claim that the Ministry in Abuja delivered letters of recognition to CONUA and NAMDA. This information comes from many news sources. However, in a letter to Ngige, the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, sought the revocation of the letters granted to the unions. The reason for this is that their registration contravened the regulations that guide trade unionism.
In his response, which was sent to the NLC on October 12th, Ngige had pleaded with the organization to honor the principle of Freedom of Association and let the new unions operate.
The minister claimed that the Trade Dispute Act of 2004 gave him the exclusive right to establish new trade unions, either by forming a new union or by regrouping existing unions.
He repeated that the new unions were offshoots or byproducts of regrouping and that their applications were assessed by two ministry committees. In addition, he stated that the applications were reviewed by both committees.
He stated that this was the case with the Registrar of Trade Unions participating when the first recommendation for approval was issued in 2019, and again in 2022.
He further stated that CONUA and NAMDA were gathered from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the purpose of increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the system.
The minister stated that, more crucially, to preserve these groupings of university professors whose worldviews diverge from the unruly parent organization. “Dear Comrade President, I beg of you not to oppose in an unwarranted manner the registration of these brand-new academic unions.
“Because with ASUU, they are all like seeds on the academic soil of Nigeria, which will develop into enormous trees we don’t know, but we already know that her trees are not giving excellent fruits.” “Therefore, as an uncle of the unions, he opposes none in the spirit of Freedom of Association,” he stated.
He stated that it should be noted that Section 3 (2) of the Trade Dispute Act, CAP T14 gives the Minister of Labour and Employment, the exclusive ability to register new trade unions, either by establishing new trade unions or by regrouping existing ones. This should be highlighted.
He added that the matter was a subject of litigation in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in the most recent case, which the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) failed to mention in his narration of court cases, but he did mention that the matter was a subject of litigation in the court.
“The case of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) and the regrouped Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN) from NUP, in which the Law on Regrouping of Trade Unions was fully investigated and decided upon.
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“Unlike the incidents provided by the President of the NLC to misinform the general public and regrettably lead his affiliate Trade Union – ASUU astray,” he stated.
Ngige recalled that the NICN in Suit no. NICN/ABJ/219/2019 buttressed its earlier ruling on the matter and that this earlier ruling had stated, among other things, that the power to register trade unions resides with the Minister of Labour and Employment. Ngige also recalled that this earlier ruling had stated that the power to register trade unions resides with the Minister of Labour and Employment.
He made the observation that the latter portion of Provision 3(2) does not make any reference to the regrouping of existing trade unions; hence, there is a distinction made within the section between registering a new trade union and combining existing ones.
According to him, we have taken notice of your reference to Section 5 of the same Act, which addresses the “Procedure on receipt of the application for registration” of a Trade Union.
“In particular, Section 5(4) of the Act specifies that the Registrar shall not register a trade union if it seems to him that any existing trade union is sufficiently representative of the interests of the class of workers concerned. Members of CONUA were excluded and de-unionized by ASUU.
“As the “Competent Authority” on Labor affairs, including trade union services, should we pay respect to ASUU and submit to leave a huge proportion of lecturers and academia un-unionized, without protection, without a voice, and without a right at work? “Are the International Labor Organization’s Conventions Nos? 87 and 97 not applicable to these workers?”
Ngige stated on NAMDA that the medical professionals who lecture in the universities do not support the unlawful strikes that are being conducted by ASUU for an extended period of time.
They stated that the strike had interrupted medical training and created resultant damage to the educational system as well as, by implication, the quantity, and quality of future medical physicians and dentists in Nigeria.
“Since the eight-month-long strike by ASUU began on February 14, 2022, they have continued to teach, and some of them have even seen their pupils through graduation.” Teachers of medicine at the universities in Maiduguri, Bauchi, and Sokoto are, without a doubt, loyal citizens.
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He went on to say that “moreover, their particular demands are rather distinct from those of the rest of ASUU members, and they are often left out on welfare and career development in the universities – the basic duties of a recognized trade union.”
Ngige advised the NLC President not to use his position to fool the general public by leading them astray with false quotations from labor authorities. As a result, Ngige added that the NLC President should stop using his position to deceive the general public.
He went on to say that if ASUU believes it has been wronged, it is within its rights as law-abiding citizens to petition the courts for a judicial remedy, just like the Federal Government has done through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“That is by virtue of the powers conferred by Section 17 of the TDA, transmitted the FG/ASUU trade dispute to the NICN for adjudication, due to the refusal of the union to comply with the provisions of Section 18 of the TDA, conciliation having failed,” he said. “That is by virtue of the powers conferred by Section 17 of the TDA.”