Development of Nigerian Labour Congress

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BACKGROUND TO THE FORMATION OF NLC
Labour organization in Nigeria dates back to 1912 when the workers in the Civil Service under the then Colonial administration organized themselves into workers representatives. This then became known as the Nigeria Civil Service Union. This led the way for workers in other sectors to agitate for the formation of Trade Unions before and after independence in 1960. By 1975 during the Military regime of General Murtala Mohammed, Trade Unions in the country had risen to over 1000 which include Mushroom Unions. In 1976, the Government established a Commission of inquiry into the activities of the various Unions and appointed an administrator to oversee the unions and come up with a structure for the proper administration of the Unions. This became necessary because most of the Unions were polarized into ideological divide which was creating problems in the country. By the end of 1977, they were restructured into 42 unions along industrial line. The government also insisted on the formation of a Labour Centre as there were various multiple centers. This led to the inauguration of the Nigeria Labour Congress in February 1978. The then 42 Industrial Unions became affiliates of the Nigeria Labour Congress with a legal backing of Trade Union (Amendment) Decree 22 of 1978. In 1989, the Trade Unions were again restructured to become 29 affiliate unions to the Nigeria Labour Congress. The NLC thus became the strong backbone of the other unions. It coordinates the affairs of all these unions and these unions are deemed to be affiliated to the NLC. Although were some specifications and guidelines in the procedure for such affiliation, the NLC became the centre force between the government and the various trade unions affiliated to it. The affiliated trade unions must make some reservations to the NLC from the monies collected from their members. It is the NLC that has in a long run intervened in the government face off with the skilled/professional workers in the country. (Okolie, 2008).Given the central organization of trade unions, any union which fails to pay its contribution is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of twice the amount of the contribution. The NLC waxed very strong despite incessant harassments, detention and intimidation on the leaders by various governments especially during the military regime of Abacha and the Obasanjo led democratic government. NLC under the famous labour leader Comrade Adams Oshomole suffered a similar fate as the government nearly caused an unhealthy disintegration of the various unions affiliated to NLC. As earlier noted, given the provision that all trade unions must be affiliated to the NLC some exceptions were given to some senior staff skilled/professionals like the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which until the recent plea of re affiliation to NLC has remained a separate trade union that tends to fight for the welfare of its members for effective performance and more so for national development cum nation building. The NLC’s influence on ASUU was only on persuasive nature. (Okolie, 2008) .The union has continued to press on the government for better funding, proper remuneration, research grants, revamp of the educational sector and the general welfare of its members. It is important to note that these trade unions are structured in such a way that it gives protection to its members in cases of breach of contractual agreement between them and the authorities concerned while not forgetting its enduring task of fostering national development. However, union leadership succession may sometimes present a façade of democratic process but in reality, those elected are usually the products of the training school of unionism under the political tutelage of present leaders and or ex -leaders of the unions. (Sola, 2008) The immediate consequences of lack of democracy is the development of inter- personal or inter- group...
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