The Federal Government has proposed a mandatory eight-week course at the Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS) for all newly elected labour leaders in the country.
Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said this, during a budget defence of the Ministry and Parastatal Agencies before the House of Representatives Committee on Labour on Monday in Abuja.
“The training is necessary to acquaint the labour leaders with the laws guiding trade unionism and trade dispute resolution in the country, along with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“The mandatory training will also enable the unions to know the limits of their powers and where the powers of their employers stop,” he said.
He also said that some union leaders were disobeying his ministry and even the labour laws of the country, because they lacked the basic training on the laws and their application.
“You know a lot of people who answer labour and union leaders are not trained in the labour laws of the country including those who are Professors.
“They disrespect labour laws. They disrespect the labour ministry, labour committees and everybody.
“So, we want to upgrade MINILS and make it mandatory that once you are elected as Comrade President or Secretary General or whatever, you must go there for a course that will last not less than eight weeks, to get certificated.
“Otherwise, you see people who are educated and knowledgeable and they are telling you that Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act (TDA) 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria is not applicable to them or anybody.
“How do you say that? You are insulting the parliament that is making laws,” he said.
He said:”if you are registered as a union and there is the Trade Union Act (2005) as amended and yet, you say that it should not apply to you and that you cannot tender an account of check off dues that you collected”
He noted that it was the same act that permitted the union to deduct the check off dues from the salaries of its membership.
Ngige also said that this was the same act that said the union must be audited every year and the audited account submitted to the Registrar of Trade Unions
“It is just like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that registers political parties. If you apply to be registered as a political party, INEC will register you but will ask you to tender the audited accounts of your party every year.
“You must conform as a political party, but if you default, the commission will penalise you, according to the law. There is no two ways about it.
”A labour leader who attended the university but lacks small knowledge of the laws guiding trade unionism is a dangerous person to the society,” he said.
He added that besides training labour leaders, the African ILO, having heard much about MINILS, designated it as an institute where other West African countries could come, pay fees and get Nigerian certification.
He appealed to the National Assembly to consider the institute for special intervention funds for an upgrade.