The umbrella body of pensioners in the country, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call to order, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and stop him from plunging labour unions in the country into crisis.
The NUP is accusing the Minister of deliberately trying to factionalise the union, pointing out that as a way of achieving his intention, the Minister is sponsoring his tribal people to create a faction of the pension union.
The Nation had reported last week that a new pension body known as Federal Parastatal and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria had approached the Ministry of Labour for registration as a pension union, alleging that the NUP has failed its members.
General Secretary of NUP, Elder Actor Zal said in a statement made available to The Nation in Abuja that the action of those behind the new body was illegal and against the spirit and letters of the nation’s labour laws.
Zal challenged those behind the new body seeking registration to tell the world where those purported to be affiliates of the new body met and decided to form the union, adding that all sectors mentioned as members were already affiliated to the NUP and have not de-affiliated.
The statement reads “Our attention has once again been drawn to the renewed efforts by the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige to illegally regroup despite the pensioners resolve to remain in one indivisible union.
“To achieve this ignoble objectives Dr. Chris Ngige deliberately went shopping for few disgruntled elements within the union from his tribe, organized them and sponsor them with government money including PHCN superannuation fund to the tune of N407 million recently collected by the self-appointed interim president of the ministers pensioners association.
“We want to alert the general public that the effort of the Hon. Minister is self-serving and is not in the best interest of the country. Furthermore, what the minister is about to do is not only contrary to the existing labour law; it will amount to proliferation of industrial unions.
“This is what the labour law is actually guiding against. Section 3(2) of the Trade Union Act clearly settles this matter when it says “no trade union shall be registered to represent workers or employers in a place where there already exists a trade union.
“For this reason, the drafters of the Trade Union Act posited that there should be only one union in each Industry representing the interest of workers in that sector. For example, ASUU in the university, NASU to Non-Academic Staff, NUT for all teachers etc.
“The Minister’s intention of window shopping for ways to divide our union is not only barbaric and crude, but it is the height of insensitivity of a government appointee. The claim by the Minister that membership of the purported Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association (FEPPAN) is to include, PHCN, Power, Universities, Education, Finance, Banking, Aviation is unthinkable. Suffice it to say these bodies are all affiliates of the NUP and have not renounced their membership to the best of our knowledge.
“The mooters and hatchers of this idea should tell the world where the meeting to form the Association was held, the invitees to the said meeting where such decision was taken. It is therefore unthinkable and unimaginable for someone to just wake up and announce his intention to form a union (FEPPAN) and named himself the interim president and another dissident member of NUP as interim secretary general. Is that how to form a union? Are these the set of people the Hon. Minister should be hob-nobbing with?
“The Minister must therefore be called to order before he turns Labour Unions in Nigeria to pre- 1978 era when we had proliferation of Trade Unions. It is on the strength of the above that we call on President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to call the Hon. Minister to order as his intention to re-group NUP is recipe for factionalization and unwanted crisis in the union which has been enjoying relative peace.”
The Special Adviser to the Minister could not be reached immediately for his reaction.