Court grants ASUSS right to form association, breakaway from Bayelsa NUT

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Yenagoa Judicial Division, has granted teachers operating under the Academic Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), Bayelsa State Chapter, the right to form an association and breakaway from the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Bayelsa State, for the purpose of caring for the welfare and interest of its members even though it is not registered as a trade union.

The court, in its judgement on the suit with number NICN/YEN/37/2019, also considered the fact that since ASUSS is duly registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, the NUT has no right to collect check-off dues from members of ASUSS without a written consent or prevent ASUSS from collecting check-dues for the welfare of its members if they have a written consent to do so.

Delivering the judgement on the suit, filed by Mr Kalama Tonpre and Hector Jonhson on behalf of the NUT Bayelsa State, seeking a perpetual injunction restraining teachers to assemble or associate under the name of ASUSS for not being a registered Trade Union, the presiding judge, Justice Bashar Alkali, further said that the NUT has no power to grant waiver, regulate or accredit ASUSS, therefore its demand is invalid.

It would be recalled that secondary school teachers had massively withdrawn their membership for NUT in 2017 on the grounds that the leadership of the union is not protecting and promoting the interest of its members and requested their employees to stop deducting check-off dues from their salaries in favour of the NUT.

As a result, the NUT dragged the defendants, Igbudu Pedro, Ibietan Simeon, Ohis Quincy, Godspower Nancy and others, to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in 2019, seeking a perpetual injunction restraining teachers to assemble or associate under the name of ASUSS, claiming that the association is harassing members of the NUT for paying their check-off dues.

Parts of the judgement read “there is nothing in the Trade Union Act, Labour Act or Pension Reform Act that empowers the NUT Bayelsa State Chapter to regulate or accredit other associations with the same objective.

“There is no evidence of the fact that members of ASUSS are members of NUT and no document to show that NUT obtained consent of each member of ASUSS to the deduction of a percentage as check-off dues.

“Therefore, ASUSS acted within their constitutional rights in forming the association to care for the interest and welfare of their members even though not as a Trade Union.

“Any deduction of check-off dues to the NUT without consent of from the person whose wage is to be deducted is a nullity as same lacks validity for failure to fulfill the said condition.

“The NUT has no power to grant waiver, regulate or accredit ASUSS or any other association. Thus, ASUSS may collect dues deducted from their members for the purpose of getting registered as a Trade Union. It is immaterial if the association so formed is registered as a Trade Union or not.”

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