By Matthew Abi
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has debunked allegations by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that he has plans to proscribe NUPENG.
A statement by the Ministry made available to Newsdiaryonline said it was only carrying out its statutory functions for which NUPENG was not singled out.
Clarifying that the minister had no intention of proscribing NUPENG or any union whatsoever, the Ministry stressed that constitutionally, he was empowered to do so if the need arose.
It therefore warned the leadership of NUPENG to desist from misleading the public by spreading wrong information about the minister.
“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 Unions, to both NUPENG and Trade Union Congress (TUC) drawing the attention of the unions to the non-rendition of their financial returns for the years 2017 and 2018,” the Ministry recalled.
The letter, it stated, directed that the unions to comply according to the provisions of Sections 40 and 37(i) of the Trade Unions Act of 2004, which 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 dully appointed auditor.”
“The NUPENG and TUC being in breach of Section 37(i), the Registrar of Trade Unions invoked Section 40 of the Trade Unions Act Cap T.14 (LFN) 2004 which gives the Registrar of Trade Unions 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, which are check of dues of workers deducted at source from their salaries.
“The TUC president personally came to the ministry to explain his predicament and asked for extension of time on compassionate ground, 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 honourable minister and asking this group of junior cadre oil workers, especially tanker drivers, to be on red alert for strike,” the Ministry further stressed.
It warned NLC to desist from engaging in unprofessional dispute with the minister over constitutional right of the president to make political appointments.