THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have resolved the differences between their two house affiliate unions in the Corporate Affairs Commission thereby bringing them to join forces to fight against the CAC’s anti-union posture.
The two labour centres made this known in a letter to the Registrar-General of the CAC dated Thursday, February 25, 2021, obtained by National Record.
The two unions in the CAC, the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), an affiliate of NLC, and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), an affiliate of TUC, had disagreed on ways to address CAC’s anti-union policies, which negatively affect mainly the members of AUPCTRE.
The Registrar-General of the CAC, Mr Garba Abubakar, had on January 11, 2021 at a media briefing in which he was reacting to threats by members of AUPCTRE to embark on strike following disagreement with the management, stated that AUPCTRE was no longer recognised by the CAC because it is a junior workers union.
Mr Abubakar had claimed that AUPCTRE was no longer in existence in the CAC because the National Industrial Court (NIC) had in a decision declared that as a junior staff union, it had no jurisdiction to organise CAC workers.
“AUPCTRE is no longer recognised as a senior staff union in CAC because of the decision of the National Industrial Court that declares AUPCTRE a junior staff union.
“A copy of the judgment has been made available to us and there is no stay of execution on the judgment. To that effect AUPCTRE stopped existing in CAC. It has been dissolved.
“Staff of the Commission have been advised to join any organised union of senior staff of their choice. All union dues deductions from staff salaries have been stopped,” Mr Abubakar had warned, stating that the CAC management will not tolerate disruption of the Commission’s activities by any group of persons under the guise of strike.
Although the ministry with supervisory oversight over CAC, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, had swiftly intervened to truncate a strike which was scheduled to commence on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the position of CAC management had pitched AUPCTRE and SSASCGOC on a war path.
AUPCTRE’s ground for issuing a strike notice to the management of CAC is the allegation that Mr Abubakar-led CAC imposed several anti-workers policies since his appointment. AUPCTRE’s CAC branch Chairman, Comrade Ibrahim Makirfi, accused Mr Abubakar of denying the union’s members promotion and threatened to stop remitting check-off dues.
At its recent National Executive Council meeting, the NLC resolved that it would lead all its affiliate unions to join AUPCTRE to picket CAC headquarters for 3 days, starting from last Wednesday, February 24 over the alleged anti-union infractions of the CAC under Abubakar’s management.
However, the leadership of SSASCGOC had initially maintained that such action is a call to anarchy as it remains the only recognised union in the CAC in line with the decision of the National Industrial Court. The union said it would therefore not fold its arms if the NLC embarked on the picketing.
SSASCGOC in a letter addressed to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, stated that AUPCTRE has no jurisdiction as pronounced by the NIC judgment and can therefore not speak for senior staff, either in CAC or any statutory corporation, until the judgment of NIC is overturned at the Court of Appeal, which is the appellate court for the NIC.
The letter, signed by SSASCGOC’s General Secretary, Comrade Ayo Olorunfemi, argued that NLC and AUPCTRE can only speak on behalf of junior staff of CAC which they represent according to the Trade Union Act and NIC judgments, and pleaded with the Minister to call a meeting of the NLC/AUPCTRE, TUC/SSASGOC, Registrar General CAC, EFCC, DSS, ICPC and the Federal Ministry of Labour so as to resolve the disagreement.
The harmonised position
The two labour centres in the letter co-signed by Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of NLC, and Comrade Hassan Anka, Assistant General Secretary of TUC, addressed to the Registrar-General of CAC that they have resolved the differences between the two unions and harmonised their positions in order to ensure the protection of workers rights in the CAC.
In the letter entitled; “Position of the Two House Unions in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on Workers’ Concerns in the CAC,” the NLC and TUC said in their meeting on Thursday, February 25, 2021, they both established, “in furtherance of the defense of workers’ rights and interests at the CAC” that “the two unions – AUPCTRE and SSASCOC [sic] – exist to pursue and fight for the promotion and defense of workers’ interests in line with the extant laws;” that “both AUPCTRE and SSASCOC [sic] have the right to exist and operate in the Corporate Affairs Commission; and” that “the two unions can only successfully defend the interest of workers in CAC in an ambience of understanding, shared purpose, unity, and solidarity.”
The two also revealed that they both agreed “that both AUPCTRE and SSASCOC are united in condemning and rejecting the punitive transfers of AUPCTRE executives in CAC; …both AUPCTRE and SSASCOC [sic] unanimously oppose and reject the purported dissolution of AUPCTRE in the CAC; and…both AUPCTRE and SSASCOC [sic] reject the decision of the management of the CAC to stop the deduction and remittance of check-off dues to AUPCTRE starting from February 2021.”
On the basis of the above, the NLC and TUC made a two-point resolution demanding, one, “that the management of the Corporate Affairs Commission should in the next three working days invite the leadership of the two-house unions and the two national labour centres – NLC and TUC – to a meeting to address all the issues of concern to workers at the CAC;” and secondly; “that the leadership of Organized Labour – the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress – would suspend further picketing actions against the Corporate Affairs Commission while awaiting the immediate convening of a meeting between the CAC management and Organized Labour.”
Sending a message of the renewed synergy of the two centres and the two unions in the CAC, Comrade Wabba had on the picketing line on Thursday stated: “I want to assure you that all of us are working assiduously to try to see to it that the core values of unions that extends solidarity to each other and even try to ensure that injury to one is injury to all will continue to be respected
“We are coming up with a united voice to continue to defend the rights and privileges of Nigerian workers and even by extension, the citizens of our dear country who actually look up to Labour to play the traditional role of protecting citizens’ rights.”