By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has said that no new trade union has been registered as Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS).
It described as baseless claim by ASUSS that its registration has been upheld by the Supreme Court ruling, saying that such matter was never before the apex court.
Addressing a press conference at the NUT national headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the Deputy National President of the NUT, Mr. Kelvin Nwankwo said that under extant provision of the Third Schedule Part A No. 26 of the Trade Unions Act CAP.T.14 LFN 2004, the Nigeria Union of Teachers is mandated to exercise jurisdiction over: “Teachers employed in educational institutions of all types, but excluding Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and other tertiary institutions.”
He said only NUT and no other union is recognised by the law to unionise teachers in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria.
According to Nwankwo, “what was brought before the Supreme Court was the contest of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the Suit of ASUSS was upheld by the Federal High Court Abuja, which was appealed by the ASUSS to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, respectively”.
“To the best of our knowledge the subject matter on appeal is ASUSS vs NUT, which was before the Supreme Court bothering on the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to grant the restraining order sought by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) against the Minister of Labour and Productivity to unilaterally register a trade union contrary to the provisions of Ss. 3(2), 5 (4) of the Trade Union Act CAP. T14 LFN 2004,’ he said.
He said the Supreme Court in its lead judgment held that the panel that ruled on the case at the Appeal was not competent and directed that the case be send back the Appeal for re-adjudication.
Speaking on the claim of registration by ASUSS as a trade union, the NUT deputy president said that there is no evidence to that effect.
“May, we promptly state that ASUSS is not registered as a trade union,” he said.
Nwankwo quoted several correspondences by the Minister of Labour and Employment and that of the Registrar of Trade Union to back up the union’s position.
“Our numerous correspondences from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity herein clearly sates: in the letter ref No. ML.ITU/128/1/200 on 5th October, 2007 addressed to ASUSS, in that letter, the Registrar of Trade Unions said inter alia:
“I refer to your letter dated August 13, 2005, on the above subject and to inform you that your association is not registrable as a trade union in view of Section 5(4) and 3(2) of the Trade Union Act Cap 437 of LFN 1990
“Also in August 2009, the Minister of Labour and Productivity in a letter ref No: ML.IB/19.T.31 of August, 2009 where the Hon. Minister said:
“Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) is not a registered trade Union and cannot unionize secondary school teachers”
“We urge all well-meaning teachers of secondary schools in Nigeria to remain law abiding and cooperate with the NUT for the prosperity of the teaching profession, education in Nigeria and the current provision of the Trade Union Act and Labour Laws,” he said