The National Industrial Court (NIC) recently gave judgement resolving the crisis over jurisdictional scope of trade unions. In this interview with MOSES JOHN, Secretary General of SSASCGOC, Comrade Ayo Olorunfemi speaks on the level of compliance among other issues.
Another problem this judgement has settled is the issue of some organisations who don’t know which union should unionise statutory corporations. Even though there is a clear listing of the SSASCGOC in the Trade Union Act, they still do not know. This judgement has made an unambiguous pronouncement as to the unions that have been created to unionise workers in statutory corporations and government owned companies in Nigeria.
So, SSASCGOC has been pronounced as the union that has the jurisdiction to unionize senior staff in statutory corporations and government owned companies in Nigeria, both state and federal. Now, the challenges we are having with a particular union in the civil service coming into statutory corporations have been laid to rest by this judgement. Therefore, they can no longer go to any statutory corporation by whatever name called, whether it is a commission, agency, organisation. If they go there, what they are doing there is illegal and they don’t have legal backing and the right to do so. We are equally ready to push them out of these organisations and take adequate care of our members.
One of those organisations is the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). The staff have put efforts, for more than three years, suffering seriously, suffering victimisation, financial embarrassment, unfair labour practices as a result of being forced into joining a union of civil service when they are actually a statutory body corporate.
If NIMC is a body corporate, it is clear by virtue of the Act that established it and pronounced it as a body corporate-that is a statutory corporation. All the staff are aware of it, even the management is aware. We have been wondering why the management of NIMC has chosen to force the staff of the organisation into the civil service and some people in the Federal Ministry of Labour is supporting them. Few people in the Ministry of Labour, particularly the minister seems to have been supporting them at all cost. We believe that there are certain things that have been going wrong but as times go on, we will let Nigerians know what has been going on in that place.
As per level of compliance, we are pleased to tell Nigerians that very good number of agencies within the last one month has started implementing the judgement. The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has since implemented, Nigeria Tourism Development Commission has implemented, the Corporate Affairs Commission has called us to come and unionise our members. A good number of them like that have told us they are ready to implement this judgement, even at the state level.
The only challenge, and only organisation that is playing with and resisting the court judgement is the National Identity Management Commission. Even many of such organisations, we understand have gotten this judgement and working on how to implement.
Standard Organisation of Nigeria too has implemented this judgement, they have implemented it. We don’t have any problem with SON. Also at the state level, some Controllers of Labour at state level have issued statement on this judgement to say that it is unambiguous and organisations in their jurisdiction should comply with this judgement.