Recognising new academic unions will destroy cordial industrial relations -NLC to Ngige


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says the recent recognition of two new academic unions by the federal government is designed to “destroy” cordial relations.


Nigige had recently presented letters of recognition to two new unions — Congress for Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).


The recognition of the two new unions took place amid the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).


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


Ngige had, however, appealed to NLC to allow the new unions to exist, insisting that the Trade Dispute Act 2004 gives him the sole power to recognise new trade unions, either by registering a new union or regrouping existing ones.


The minister also said the last segment of section 3(2) of the Trade Union Act 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.


Responding to Ngige’s plea, NLC, in a letter by Wabba, said the minister’s claim that section 3(2) does not refer to regrouping is “fatally flawed”.


Wabba said a previous statement by Ngige that the new unions applied for registration in 2018, citing irreconcilable differences, is a clear contradiction of the minister’s claim of regrouping as justification for awarding certificates to them.


“The question on the mind of every rational Nigerian is what is your motive for registering CONUA and MAMDA? Is it re-grouping of trade unions or is it a response to the application made by CONUA and MAMDA since 2018 to be registered unions?” the letter reads.


Wabba added that article 3(2) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise makes it clear that public authorities should not interfere in the activities of trade unions.


“Unfortunately, you have accused us of interference when the opposite is the reality,” the letter reads.


 “Your biased attempt to ‘re-group’ an existing trade union or actually individuals (something our labour laws never contemplated) in utter disregard to tripartism which is a core pillar of ILO is an attempt to interfere with, infiltrate and balkanize an existing trade union — at best to score on vendetta and at worst to destroy cordial industrial relations in Nigeria.


“We are also concerned that your ’patriotic‘ intervention to rescue the so-called expelled and insufficiently represented academic staff in our universities came after you publicly admitted your utmost frustration with your inability to resolve the ASUU strike.


“Overall, Honourable Minister, we still want to believe that you were not properly advised on this matter.


“As the Chief Labour Law Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we believe that you will take advantage of our presentation of the true position of the law to redress this grave injustice done to our labour jurisprudence by the ‘awarding’ of trade union certificates to CONUA and NAMDA.”

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