Friday, September 15, 2017 11:27 am
President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his Trade Union Counterpart (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, have waved off the United Labour Congress (ULC) of Nigeria which gave the Federal Government strike ultimatum as an illegal, unregistered organisation.
They said this today, 15th September, 2017, when they addressed a press conference at Paschal Bafyau Labour House, Abuja.
Wabba and Kaigama revealed that some leaders, since their failure in the 10 March 2015 delegates conference of the NLC, have tried to use every tactic to destabilise the industrial relations scene in the country. “They just collected forms for the registration of dozens of ‘shell trade unions or trade unions without membership’, and rather than wait to get registration, they just proclaimed their existence, perhaps because they know very well that by the extant laws-the Trade Union Act, and the Trade Union Amendment Act, there was no way they could get recognition and registration for the dozen or so ‘Shell Unions”’.
They argued further that the fake unions “had not being registered, and would not be registered since all the areas have effective Union coverage presently that are affiliates of the NLC and TUC.”
Moreover, they said: “We had pointed out in our January 18th, 2017 letter to the Honourable Minister of the dangers posed by the activities of these erstwhile colleagues of ours, who rather than accept the decision of Nigerian workers to reject their leadership, are bent on creating anarchy in the industrial relations system in the country, by trying to register these mushroom and member-less Unions.
ULC has threatened that workers in the union would embark on an indefinite strike if the Federal Government “fails to meet their demands by Friday.”
In a meeting held by the National Administrative Committee (NAC) the union said that it had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government as a result of the decision of the Central Working Committee (CMW) meeting which was held on August 22, 2017 and expired on September 8, 2017.
Following a statement issued during the congress meeting, the union noted that the federal Government’s failure to meet their demands has led to a proposed strike which will begin on September 15, 2017.
ULC “urges all Nigerians to, therefore, take precaution and stock up on basic necessities as the strike will be very effective, as we hope to cripple all modes such as petroleum supplies, disrupt banking operations which will make life a bit difficult for Nigerians.
“This course of action though very painful at this time is the only alternative available to us, as we have exhausted all known peaceful processes towards an amicable resolution of the dispute.
“We, therefore, call on all genuine patriots to join hands in solidarity with us to urge the Federal Government and state governors to be kind enough to meet the demands of Nigerian workers and masses.”
To counter ULC, below is the text of the Press Statement by Wabba and Kaigama at Paschal Bafyau today
Gentlemen of the press.
We have called this press conference to address the subject of an alleged seven days final strike notice, issued recently by our erstwhile colleagues, who are parading themselves as a trade union centre, going by the name of “United Labour Congress of Nigeria”.
Our initial reaction was to ignore the purported ultimatum issued via a press statement on 11th September, 2017, as a mere attention seeking gimmick. However, since the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has entered into correspondence with these individuals, and they have in turn resorted to an exercise intent on blackmail with the ultimate goal of using this weapon to obtain registration, we feel constrained to making the following comments on the unfolding situation.
Despite listing twelve (12) demands in their 11th September press statement, we have no doubt that those behind the ultimatum were only hoping to blackmail the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to register their association as a central labour organisation, as they stated in their demand numbers 9-12.
We have no doubt the officials of the Federal Ministry of Labour would deal with the situation as the laws of the country governing labour relations are very clear on the procedure guiding registrations of Trade Unions and trade union centres.
Against the background of persistent mischief and dragging the names of our two centres to the mud by the promoters of the United Labour Congress, it has become pertinent to once again recall the events leading to their current desperation.
Since their failure in the March 2015, 10th delegates conference of the NLC, these individuals have tried to use every tactic to destabilise the industrial relations scene in the country. First they tried to factionalise the NLC, and for almost two years were parading themselves as factional leaders of the NLC. When they realised that they were largely ignored by Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people, at the beginning of this year, they dusted up the name of one of the four trade union centres that in December 1975 voluntarily merged to form the NLC, and now purports to have become a new Labour Centre in the country, called the United Labour Congress.
Unfortunately for our erstwhile colleagues, they just collected forms for the registration of dozens of “shell trade unions or trade unions without membership”, and rather than wait to get registration, they just proclaimed their existence, perhaps because they know very well that by the extant laws-the Trade Union Act, and the Trade Union Amendment Act, there was no way they could get recognition and registration for the dozen or so “Shell Unions”.
These mushroom Unions were carried out of existing industrial unions. However, the Trade Unions Act CAP T14, LFN, 2004, Section 3 (2) provided that: “But no trade union shall be registered to represent workers or employers in a place, where there already exists a trade union”.
These fake Unions had not being registered, and would not be registered since all the areas have effective Union coverage presently that are affiliates of the NLC and TUC.
We had pointed out in our January 18th, 2017 letter to the Honourable Minister of the dangers posed by the activities of these erstwhile colleagues of ours, who rather than accept the decision of Nigerian workers to reject their leadership, are bent on creating anarchy in the industrial relations system in the country, by trying to register these mushroom and member-less Unions.
In the same letter, we had drawn attention to the fact that under the 2005 amendment to the section 34 of the Principal Act, it was clearly stated that a (new) federation of trade union(s) may be registered if (a) I (b): “it is made up of 12 or more trade unions, none of which shall have been a member of another registered federation of trade unions”.
The main promoters of the so-called new federation are individuals from NUEE and NUPENG both are affiliates of the NLC. By the extant law as passed just some years ago, they cannot form another federation.
Distinguished gentlemen of the press, the section on Registration of Trade Unions in Part 1, Section 2, is very clear that un-registered trade unions and federation(s) are prohibited from functioning. Under this section, a federation of trade unions shall not come into existence until it is registered.
Our erstwhile colleagues are therefore trying to take advantage of the unstable security and industrial relation situation in the country to increase the tension and give bad name to trade unionism. Nigerians need to know that they are not a legitimate organisation recognised by the laws of our country. They are largely a collection of individuals who find it difficult to accept the will of Nigerian workers, as very clearly demonstrated during the March 12-13 2015 election that took place at the Eagle Square, Abuja in which they were roundly defeated.
In conclusion, we wish to state without equivocation that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has acted within the confines of the law by not registering ULC and the phantom Unions they put forward. No unregistered organisations or individuals can hold our dear country to ransom.
We urge the Federal Ministry of Labour and workers to discountenance the threats of this illegal association. The ministry must be steadfast in upholding the laws governing trade union practice in the country.
Finally, our colleagues are still members of the labour family, in unity lies our strength. We once again extend our hands of comradeship and urge them to return to the fold.
• Text of Press Statement by the President of Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni and his Trade Union Counterpart Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama at Paschal Bafyau Labour House, Abuja, on 15th September, 2017