The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has dismissed allegations by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) that he was planning to proscribe NUPENG.
NAN recalls that NLC had on Monday called on Ngige to withdraw a letter written to NUPENG, which ordered the union to submit its financial returns within 72 hours.
Reacting in a statement on Tuesday by Head, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Rhoda Iliya, Ngige described the allegation by NLC and NUPENG as cheap.
The statement reads in part: “On 13th May 2019, a letter was written by the Department of Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations (TUSIR) of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, precisely by the Registrar of Trade Union to both the NUPENG and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
“The letter draws the attention of the Unions to the non-rendition of their financial returns for the years 2017 and 2018.
“The letter directed that the unions should comply according to the provisions of Sections 40 and 37(i) of the Trade Unions Act of 2004.
“It states that every registered body shall send to the registrar before 1st June in each year, an annual return in the prescribed form and shall be certified as correct by the duly appointed auditor.
“The NUPENG and TUC being in breach of this Section 37(i), the Registrar of Trade Union invoked Section 40 of the Trade Unions Act Cap T.14(LFN) 2004, which gives the Registrar of Trade Union powers to request that all the books of accounts of defaulting unions be submitted to the Registrar for further scrutiny to make for accountability in the management of the unions’ funds.”
The minister noted that this includes check-off dues of workers deducted at source from their salaries.
“The ever-combative, arrogant and ill-informed NUPENG leadership took to the press for base name-calling, reminding everyone of their ill-fated invasion of the private residence of the Hon. Minister and asking this group of junior cadre oil workers,” the statement continued.
“This is especially tanker drivers to be on red alert for a strike, thus threatening Nigerians instead of apologies for being in default. We warn NUPENG to cease forthwith with this senseless bogey of tanker drivers.
“It is evident that the ministry was only carrying out its statutory functions. NUPENG was not singled out, neither was it asked to provide only the annual report of 2018 as they had conducted their 2019 conference.
“The ministry, therefore, wishes to state that the minister has no intention of proscribing NUPENG or any Union whatsoever, though constitutionally empowered to do so if need be,” Iliya said.