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Allow new academic unions to exist, they have different worldview– FG tells NLC

  The federal government has appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to rescind its opposition to the registration of the two new acad...

 


The federal government has appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to rescind its opposition to the registration of the two new academic unions in the Nigerian public university system.

 

Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, made the call in a statement by Olajide Oshundun, the ministry’s head of press and public relations, on Tuesday.

 

The new unions are the Congress for Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

 

Ayuba Wabba, national president of NLC, had demanded the withdrawal of the letters of recognition issued to the unions on the grounds that their registration contravened the laws guiding trade unions.

 

In his reply, Ngige appealed to NLC to allow the new unions to exist in the spirit of freedom of association.

 

The minister insisted that the trade dispute act 2004 gives him the sole power to register new trade unions, either by registering a new union or regrouping existing ones.

 

He reiterated that the new unions were offshoots or by-products of regrouping, and their applications were considered by two committees of his ministry.

 

Ngige noted that the registrar of trade unions was involved when the first recommendation for approval was given in 2019, and again in 2022.

 

The minister added that the unions were recognised to protect “these groups of university teachers whose worldview differs from the restive parent union”.

 

“Comrade president, do not unnecessarily oppose the registration of these new academic unions,” the letter reads.

 

“Because with ASUU, they are all like seeds on the academic soil of Nigeria and which will grow into big trees we don’t know, but the one which her trees are not bearing good fruits, we already know.

 

 “So, as an uncle of the unions, oppose none in the spirit of freedom of association.”

 

Ngige noted that the matter was a subject of litigation in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) and that Wabba failed to mention that in his narration of court cases.

 

Ngige recalled that the NICN in suit no. NICN/ABJ/219/2019 buttressed its earlier ruling on the matter and which had stated, inter alia, that the power to register trade unions resides with the minister of labour and employment.

 

He noted that the last segment of section 3(2) does not refer to the regrouping of existing trade unions, hence, the differentiation within the section between registering a new trade union and regrouping existing ones.

 

 “We note your reference to section 5 of the same act, which deals with the ‘procedure on receipt of application for registration’ of a Trade Union,” the letter reads.

 

“Section 5(4) in particular states that the registrar shall not register a trade union if it appears to him that any existing trade union is sufficiently representative of the interests of the class of workers concerned-CONUA members were ostracised and de-unionised by ASUU.

 

 “Do we as the ‘Competent Authority’ on labour matters, including trade union services, pay homage to ASUU and acquiesce to leaving a large segment of lecturers and academia un-unionised, without protection, without a voice, and without a right at work?

 

“Are these workers not covered by the same ILO Conventions nos. 87 & 97?”

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