Indications have emerged that the Federal Government may withdraw the registration of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, as a trade union following its alleged failure to submit its audited reports as required by law in the past five years.
Already, the Registrar of Trade Unions has reportedly written a querry to the union on why its certificate of registration should not be withdrawn for running foul of the law, Vanguard reported on Thursday.
This is as university lecturers in the medical field have applied to the Minisrry of Labour and Employment to be registered as a separate trade union under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics, NAMDA.
The group has also said that it did not join the ongoing strike embarked upon by its parent body ASUU, rather, its members were locked out due to the industrial dispute declared by the union.
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It said that it would soon start examination for the 500 and 400 levels of medical students, noting that the country has shortage of medical doctors and that it would not be in her interest to lose a year because of any strike.
Speaking while receiving members of NAMDA, who had visited him to express their solidarity with the Federal Government on the ASUU imbloglio, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige acknowledged receiving the group’s request for registration.
The Minister lamented that the university based unions have been in the habit of not obeying the law that sets) them up with regard to the submission of their yearly audited account.
He said that he was constrained to allow the hammer of the law to descend on ASUU because of the prolonged strike as any action taken by the government would be wrongly interpreted.
He maintained that going by the provisions of the law, the leadership of the university based unions that collect check-off dues from their members are mandated to render account on how the money is spent.
Responding to the group’s request to be registered as a trade union, Ngige said, “I am happy today that you people have noticed what is wrong with medical education and decided now to form a single trade union.
“Yes, we have received your application about two or three months ago. Even when NMA had come to make an oral application for you people, I told them that it is not done that way. If you understand what you need, you come to be registered as a trade union. Registration as a trade union has its own rights and privileges.
“The privileges are as follows. As a union, you are enjoying freedom of association as people of like minds. People who have the same profession. People who have the same ideas. People who believe in the furtherance of the production of medical doctors in their country.
“You also have the advantage that as a union, you get check off dues from your members, automatically done at source by the employers in which case now, universities. These are the advantages.
“What are the disadvantages? The disadvantages is that you have to obey our laws. The laws of the land. That is where you elite fail, especially SSANU, NASU, ASUU, NAAT. All of you in the university system. They have not been obeying trade union laws.”
He further said, “ASUU has not responded to the relevant section of Trade Union Creation for submission of audited accounts. How do they utilise their money? The money they collect as check off dues, should be accounted for. So, the Trade Union Act says that in June of any given year, unions should produce audited account at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“The Registrar of Trade Unions has written them to show cause why we should not withdraw their certificate of registration. They have not responded to the letter. Rather, I learned that they came last Friday with bundles of papers and said they are their audited account.
“Of course, he rightly told them that ‘I didn’t ask you for your audited accounts anymore. I need you to respond to my query on why disciplinary action should not be taken against you. If disciplinary action is taken against ASUU now, although I am restraining him, they will say that it is because we are in court. They will say that we are being victimised because we are on strike. We are being punished. Whereas, they have been running foul of the law.
“Five good years, they have not tendered an audited account of their activities, at least, for the benefit of their members. For now, you are their members. They should give you account of how they spent your money. They have not done so.”
Speaking on ASUU strike, he said, “You went on strike. The Minister of Labour brought you here one week after and