There are many trade unions in Nigeria. These are organized groups of people under the same occupation and similar interests. They are formed with the aim of protecting their interest and serving as a medium for speaking up for the people.
Trade unions in Nigeria are a very strong and powerful tool and the two major ones are the Nigeria Labor Congress(NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and they have over 40 affiliates. With their strength in number, they have a great negotiating power which the government adheres to.
When their demands are not after negotiating, they embark on a peaceful protest, then a full-blown out strike. The power these trade unions wield is more than enough to hold the government to ransom by either crippling the economy or paralyzing service delivery in some strategic areas
There are various types of trade unions that are affiliated with NUC
- Professional/ white collar: they are the unions of professional bodies or professionals in different fields, for example, law accounting, medicine etc.
- General/ labor union: these consists mostly if artisans and some skilled workers
- Craft union: mainly for a particular occupation eg, tailoring, carpentry
- Industrial union: these are unions of all members in a particular industry, e.g., entertainment industry
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Top 10 Trade Unions In Nigeria
1. Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC)
This is an umbrella for almost all unions and it was established in 1978 by Wahab Goodluck. It was formed from the merging of four unions Nigeria Trade Union Congress (NTUC), Labor Unity Front (LUF), United Labor Congress (ULC), Nigeria Workers Council (NWC).
They have been at loggerhead with the government both state and federal severally mostly based on salary issues or issues or issues on member’s welfare and rights.
This union has been dissolved twice since its introduction in 1978 because of its many clashes with the government, this took place during the military regime. First under Ibrahim Babangida in 1988 and secondly in 1994 under Sanni Abacha.
The last strike occurred under the rule of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which lasted for 21days. The union joined hands with other socio-political groups to protest the decision of removal of subsidy on petroleum products
2. Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU)
Recently, it has been one of the most pronounced unions known for its never-ending clash with the government. It was known in the past as the Nigerian Association of University Teachers and was founded in 1978.
Their strikes are mostly as a result of delayed salaries of lecturers, university findings and other payments accrued to the university and also member rights. The current president is Dr Issa Fagge. The strikes this union has embarked on has begun to leave mixed feelings and reactions in many Nigerians because the strikes are becoming too frequent. They have had strikes ranging from 2 weeks to 3months, 5months and above.
3. Nigerian Medical Association (NMA)
This was founded in the year 1952 with its headquarters in Abuja and has over thirty (30) branches in the country with more than thirty-five thousand (35,000) members including those in the diaspora.
It covers all six major specializations on internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and Gynecology, Paediatrics, Public Health and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. This union is for medical doctors and dentists only.
When it comes to health, this is one of the strongest unions and causes tension in the country as a whole because their refusal to work will lead to the death of many and complications in the hospital
4. National Union of Petroleum and National Gas Workers (NUPENG)
This union has a strong effect on the lives of the people of the country. This is one of the many unions affiliated with the NLC. It consists of all members and workers in the oil and gas sector including tank drivers.
It has the power to cripple the economy as oil is the major source of income in the country.
5. Petroleum and National Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PEGASSAN)
This is affiliated or can be said to be related or a sister to NUPENG as it is also about the oil and gas sector but PEGASSAN deals with only the senior staff of the industry. Just like NUPENG, a strike of this union can disrupt the whole economic flow of the nation.
6. National Union Of Journalists (NUJ)
This covers all media personnel and journalist in the country. The union was founded on the 15th of May 1995. It works on promoting and protecting nationalism and all journalist and media aides and all their membership right
7. National Union of Teachers (NUT)
This is for teachers of primary and secondary school and they rarely go on strike. It was first led by Ransome Kuti Oludotun and its main purpose is to advocate and protect teachers’ rights. This was created in 1931 from the merging of two teacher’s associations in Nigeria.
Lagos Union of Teachers was formed in 1925 with Canhon Lucas as the president and association of Headmaster’s of Ijebu school (AHIS) which was created in 1926.
8. Nigeria Bar Association (NBA)
This is made up of lawyers who have been called to bar (passing through law school or through the Nigerian Bar). It was created in the year 1933 and has a strong force in the political arena. The union takes on the responsibility for maintaining law and orders, the union helps in protecting the country and humans right
9. Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Education Institution (NASU)
This union also falls under the educational sector but represent the non-teaching staff in the Universities in Nigeria. It was founded in 1977 and just like ASUU, they have had issues with the government while fighting for the rights of their member.
10. Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP)
This is another educational sector and was created in 1978. This is mainly for lecturers of the polytechnic, colleges and other technological institutes. They fight for the standardization of the level of education.
Above, we’ve seen some top unions and we still have more for the craft union and other forms of union. The aforementioned are the ones always making headlines either threatening protest or strike due to the failure on the part of the government (federal government especially) in keeping their part of the demands of the union.
This also shows the importance of the Unions to their members and the country at large. In a way, they check the government attention and behaviour towards the civil servants, making the government more diligent in its service to the civil servants.