By G9ija

Teachers in the secondary schools in Nigeria have been advised to disregard claims by the splinter group, Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), that the Supreme Court, on January 15, 2021, delivered judgment granting it autonomy as a new trade union.

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), at a media briefing, said the information credited to ASUSS was strange and unfounded, as ASUSS is not registrable as a trade union.

National president of NUT, Dr. Nasir Idris, represented by the deputy president, Mr. Kelvin Nwankwo, said the warning became necessary in order not to cause confusion and disaffection among teachers in public secondary schools in the country.

“The group of secondary school teachers making a hollow, deceptive and false claim to have obtained judgment to unionize secondary school teachers is reckless, complete falsehood and extraneous to the decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as and other relevant labour laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the labour leader said.

He noted that NUT would not have joined issues with ASUSS but had to speak up because it had begun spreading misinformation to the public, claiming to have been granted power to be a trade union.

The NUT president maintained that NUT was the only recognised teachers’ trade union at primary and secondary school levels in Nigeria, noting that the true position of ASUSS was still pending in court.

Nwankwo also explained that the Ministry of Labour and Productivity had clearly informed ASUSS that it was not registrable.

He said, “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 13th August, 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 Honourable 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’.”

He added that the Third Schedule Part A, No. 26 of the Trade Unions Act CAP.T.14, LFN 2004, also provides that the Nigeria Union of Teachers shall exercise jurisdiction over: “Teachers employed in educational institutions of all types, but excluding universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions,” as severally established by the Registrar of Trade Unions, that NUT was the body statutorily registered to organize teachers in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria.

“With this provision of the Trade Union Act, we call on all teachers of secondary schools in Nigeria to disregard the baseless claim by ASUSS, as no such matter of membership of secondary school teachers was before the Supreme Court and the status of NUT in unionizing teachers of primary and secondary schools remains sacrosanct and backed by the jurisdictional scope of trade unions as contained in the Trade Union Act CAP T.14 LFN 2004, cited above,” he stated.

The deputy president said the NUT would clock 90 years by July 2021, while the leadership has been mutually rotating between the secondary and primary school teachers and, out of 15 presidents the union had produced, only two had been selected from the primary school arm, while the others were drawn from secondary schools arm.

The union said, for over a decade, it had achieved the 27.5% Teachers’ Peculiar Allowances, which the teachers in Nigeria have been enjoying, including the so-called members of ASUSS, who have continued to reap where they did not sow.

He added further, “So far the NUT is contemplating putting to a stop the parasitic roles of the so called ASUSS who continue to enjoy the negotiated benefits of the NUT even when they endlessly sabotage our efforts in achieving them, what a paradox?”

“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.”