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NAICOM, workers bicker over Union membership

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THE last may not have been heard about the upsurge between the Management of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) over the restriction of the Union to junior staff.

NAICOM in a letter addressed to staff on December 9, 2016 without a signature restricted AUPTCRE to junior cadre, following the advise from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment which, according to NAICOM, specified the jurisdictional scope of the Union.

The letter reads, “….All junior staff employed in the Federal and State Corporations, Civil Service Employees classified as technical; workers of sports commission and stadia; public recreation clubs by whatever name called; swimming pools, amusement centres including carnivals, circuses, zoological gardens and services similarly classified…”

According to the NAICOM’s letter, “It is clear from the foregoing that only Junior Members of Staff of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) can be members of AUPCTRE.”

For the purpose of emphasis, it went on to reaffirm that, “Only drivers (being Junior Staff) in the Commission fall within the purview of those to be unionized by AUPCTRE in NAICOM.”

Stopping ofthe deductions

The Commission however stopped the deductions of senior staff for AUPCTRE, stating in the letter: “The deduction of monthly Union Check-Off dues for all Senior Staff who hitherto were members of AUPCTRE will therefore be discontinued with immediate effect.”

“Management has approved the establishment of a Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) to cater for the needs of Senior and other junior staff who do not wish to be members of AUPCTRE.”

It added: “The Administration and Human Resources Directorate has been directed to commence the process of establishment of the JCC.”

Members of the Union who sternly disagreed with the position of the management wrote to its members to disregard the management letter on membership.

Reacting to the development the chairman of AUPCTRE, Comrade Ibrahim Abdullateef, described the position of the management as intimidating and unrealistic.

Abdullateef said: “We had earlier made Management to understand that our joining AUPCTRE was based on our freedom of Association as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended), which guarantees the right of every person to form or belong to any Trade Union or any other Association for the protection of his interest.”

The Union argued: “Also in support of our action is the International Labour Organisation Convention 87, which recognizes the right of workers to belong to Unions of their choice. Similarly, Convention 98 provides that workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of entire Union discrimination in respect of their employment.”

“Management has failed to take note of Section 9(6a) of the Labour Act which states that: ‘ No contract shall make it a Conditions of employment that a worker shall or shall not join a Trade Union or shall or shall not relinquish membership of a Trade Union. “

“Also section 12(4) of Trade Union Act, 2005 provides in part: ‘notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act,Membership of a Trade Union by employees shall be voluntary and no employee shall be forced to join any trade union or be victimized for refusing to join or remain a member.”

“The Jurisdictional scope clause quoted in the Memo was deliberately misinterpreted by Management, as it contravenes the above mentioned relevant extant laws and the AUPCTRE Constitution Rule 3 on Membership and Obligation filed with the Registrar of Trade Union (Appendix 1).”

“Also drawing from the second sentence in the jurisdictional scope quoted: “Civil Service Employees classified as technical” does the word Employees   not cover Senior and junior cadres? Assuming without conceding that AUPCTRE is for Junior Staff cadre as alleged, we are unaware of any law that bars Senior Staff from joining such Union.”

“We demand that Management should reverse its directives contained in the memo of Friday, 9th December, 2016 which was sent to staff, and in particular, the directive relating to deduction of monthly Union Check-Off dues for all Senior Staffs of NAICOM.”

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