NUT accuses governors of using ASUSS to destabilise union

•Says status to unionize primary, secondary schools teachers sacrosanct

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has accused some state governors of misleading and using some breakaway members, under the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) to destabilise the 90-year-old union.

Addressing a press conference titled: “NUT vs ASUSS: Putting the record straight,” in Abuja on Thursday, the leadership of the Union said the status of NUT to unionize the teachers in Secondary and Primary schools remain sacrosanct.

The NUT National Deputy President, Comrade Kelvin Nwankwo, who spoke on behalf of the National President, Dr Nasir Idris, said the NUT is backed by the jurisdictional scope of trade unions as contained in the Trade Union Act CAP T.14 LFN 2004.

Comrade Nwankwo explained that there was no Supreme Court judgement that gave ASUSS recognition to unionize the secondary school teachers, adding that the breakaway members were lying to deceive Nigerians and destabilize NUT.

He said: “Some people are using them especially some state governors that are not ready to perform their duties by paying salaries to workers. The Bible says a worker deserves his wage. We are doing ourselves, how I wish they would come back to their senses and know that they are doing themselves very great harm.

He challenged those who called themselves ASUSS members to come out and produce the court judgement that gave them such ruling.

Comrade Nwankwo said: “The National leadership of the NUT unequivocally lay bare and throw light on the deliberate mischief, misinterpretation and falsehood being circulated on various print and electronic media and blog platforms: that the Supreme Court on the 15th January 2021 delivered judgment granting secondary school teachers a new trade union known as Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS); which is rather strange and unfounded. May we promptly state that ASUSS is not registrable as a Trade Union.

“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 Hon. 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.

“The contest of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the Suit of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) vs Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) was upheld by the Federal High Court Abuja, which was appealed by the ASUSS to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively.”

He said, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court, he said the NUT is awaiting the transmission of the matter to the Court of Appeal for the rehearing on the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

The NUT added: “The group of secondary school teachers led by Mr Samuel Omaji 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.”

Citing several correspondences from the Ministry of Labour and Employment to the group, he said ASUSS cannot be registered as a trade union.

One of the letters with ref No. ML.ITU/128/1/200 on 5th October 2007 addressed to ASUSS by the Registrar of Trade Unions said: “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 Minister of Labour and Productivity in a letter Ref No: ML.IB/19.T.31 of August 2009 said:
“Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) is not a registered trade Union and cannot unionize secondary school teachers.”

The extant provision of the Third Schedule Part A No. 26 of the Trade Unions Act CAP.T.14 LFN 2004 provides that 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.”

Comrade Nwankwo, therefore said, “as severally established by the Registrar of Trade Unions, that Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) is the body that is statutorily registered to organize teachers in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria.”

He called on teachers in the primary and secondary school across the country to ignore the misleading statements and publication being made by the group under ASUSS.

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