Trade Unions in Nigeria, unlike popular belief, isn’t a politically influenced group used to frustrate the ruling government. Trade Unions mainly fights to protect the rights of its members, irrespective of what party the ruling government is from.
That brings the question…
What are Trade Unions?
Trade Union is any registered organization of workers with the same occupation and interest. It is established to serve as a mouthpiece in protecting the member’s interests and rights. It’s a platform used to expressed members’ opinions on policies.
Nigerian Trade Unions
Trade Unions in Nigeria are quite popular and powerful especially the Nigeria Labor Congress. The major trade union in Nigeria is the Labor Congress affiliated with over 43 other trade unions.
As a result of its numerous members, it has great bargaining power which grabs a lot of attention whenever it is at war with the government.
Mainly, the Nigerian trade unions go on peaceful protest and sometimes strikes, when unable to reach an agreement with the government. Trade Unions in Nigeria is a great platform used to unify the peasant’s interest and goals.
The Nigeria Labor Congress is sitting at the front as one of the major trade unions. It has about 43 affiliated trade unions from many sectors and industries.
There are many types of trades union in Nigeria which unifies together with the Nigeria Labor Congress as one. Here are the types of Trade Unions in Nigeria.
1. Professional (White Collar Union):
These are types of unions created to unify the voice of professionals in their various fields. Examples of such professional fields include Nursing, Medicine, Law, Accounting, and so on.
2. General/ Labor Union:
This is the most popular, containing a huge lot of Nigeria Labor forces and workers. Most Skilled workers and artisans fall into this group. A notable example of this is the Nigeria Labor Congress consisting of various workers from different fields.
3. Craft Union:
This is mainly for a particular occupation or craft eg Association of Tailors.
4. Industrial Union:
This is a union unifying the voice of all members in a particular industry.
Having known the types of unions in Nigeria. The following are the major trade unions in Nigeria.
20 List of Trade Unions in Nigeria.
1. Nigeria Labor Congress(NLC)
NLC is an umbrella body for all types of workers in Nigeria. The most popular and powerful trade union was established in 1978 by Wahab Goodluck. NLC is a result of 4 bodies merging together. The 4 bodies that merged to form NLC includes;
Nigeria Worker Council (NWC)
Labor Union Fronts (LUF)
Nigeria Trade Union Congress(NTUC) and
United Labor Congress (ULC)
NLC clashes many times with both the federal and state governments. Mostly, on salaries, reduced subsidy, members’ rights, and welfare.
Due to its numerous clashes with the government, it was dissolved twice in history before it was re-introduced in 1999. Under the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida and Sanni Abacha’s are when it was dissolved with the president of the Union arrested.
The last NLC strike was in 2012 during Goodluck Jonathan’s regime which lasted for 21 days.
2. Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This is also one of the most popular trade unions in Nigeria known for its endless clashes with the government. This trade union is strictly for University lecturers. ASUU which was formerly called the Nigerian Association of University Teachers was founded in 1978.
ASUU airs it’s disagreement mainly with strikes and mostly it’s on delayed Salaries, University fundings and arrears, and other members’ rights. The current President of ASUU is Dr. Nasir Issa Fagge.
3. Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
This popular trade union is for medical doctors and dentists only. It was established in 1951 with its head office in Abuja. They have over 30 branches across the country with more than 35,000 members.
It’s one of the strongest unions in the health sector, capable of causing tensions to the whole country. As the union’s refusal to work can lead to a lot of complications and death in the hospital.
4. National Union of Petroleum and National Gas Workers (NUPENG).
This trade union is one of the 29 industrial unions affiliated with the Nigerian Labor Congress. It consists of all workers in the oil and gas industry, as it’s members including the tank drivers.
Like NMA, the refusal to work by this union can paralyze the country. We all know the usefulness of Oil to the country’s economy.
5. Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN)
PENGASSAN is a sister union to NUPENG as the unions belong to the same industry. Unlike NUPENG, PENGASSAN only consists of senior staff in the industry as its members.
6. National Union of Journalist(NUJ).
This is another trade union in Nigeria which embodies all journalists and media professionals in the country. It was created in 1995 on the 15th of March. The trade union help in promoting nationalism while protecting the journalist and media rights.
7. National Union of Teachers(NUT).
This one of the trade unions in Nigeria that rarely goes on strike. It is mainly for teachers in both primary and secondary schools across the whole country.
It was first to lead by Ransome Kuti Oludotun and mainly for protecting and advocating teachers’ rights.
8. Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
The Nigeria Bar Association consists of Nigeria’s lawyers who have once passed through the Nigerian Bar.
It was established in 1933 and has a strong power in the political arena. The trade union helps in protecting countries’ and humans’ rights. The union is responsible for maintaining laws and orders.
9. Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and education institutions (NASU)
It is one of the trade unions in the educational sector. It mainly represents the non-teaching staff in the universities in Nigeria.
The sister union to ASUU was established in 1977. Like ASUU, NASU has clashed with many managements, the government in Nigeria while protecting its member’s interest.
10. Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics(ASUP)
This is also one of the influential trade unions in Nigeria. The trade union which is in the educator sector was created in 1978 and also an affiliate of NLC.
Like ASUU, it’s mainly for lecturers, those teaching in Polytechnics, colleges, and other technological institutes. They mainly fight for the right of their members and helps in standardizing the level of education.
11. National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW)
This is another trade union in Nigeria which is different from others. Unlike other trade unions created by some group of professionals, NURTW consist of transport workers, companies, and street/ park touts.
It was established in 1957 to monitor the conduct of their workers and advocate for members’ interests.
12. National Society of Engineers(NSE).
This is another professional trade union strictly for professional engineers and it was founded in 1958. It was created by the young Nigerian Graduate(Engineers). It’s basically created to elevate the profession and for regulations of
13. Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).
This particular trade union is similar to NLC in its activities even though it isn’t as powerful as NLC. It’s for senior staff in the labor force.
TUC has been rebranded at least two times since it was established. It was first called Federation of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (FAN), then later Senior Consultative Association of Nigeria (SECAN).
14. Nigeria Insurance Association(NIA).
This is another trade union in Nigeria responsible for protecting the Insurance Companies in Nigeria. They also protect the insurer’s interest by regulating all the insurance companies’ activities.
The trade union was established in 1971 with the goal of unifying their voice to speak to the government when necessary.
15. Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(MAN).
This is an industrial trade union with over 2000 manufacturing industries(both public and private). MAN was established in 1971 aimed at promoting Nigerians products. They also help to regulate the production of goods.
16. Actors Guild of Nigeria(AGN).
This is one of the trade unions in Nigeria from the movie industry. AGN is basically for Nigerian actors protecting them from discrimination, exploitation, and any unfavorable condition.
Also serves as a platform for promoting Nigerian movies.
17. Director Guild of Nigeria(DGN)
It’s a brother trade union to AGN. Directors of films and movies are the members of this trade union.
The group also helps in regulating the standard of movies produced in the industry.
18. National Association of Nigeria Traders(NANT)
This is also an industrial trade union that promotes the buying and selling of goods. It’s the union representing all forms of business that involves trading whether mini or medium enterprise.
The trade was registered in 2001 even though it has been active since the military regime in 1997.
19. Cocoa Association of Nigeria(CAN).
This is one of the numerous trade unions in Nigeria from the Agricultural sector. It was established in 1986 with the aim of empowering Cocoa farmers and enhance Cocoa production.
20. Association of Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE).
This trade union consists of most of the companies producing food, beverages, and tobacco as its members. It was created in 1979.
Importance of Trade Union.
What is really the importance of trade unions? Are they really beneficial? You may be wondering what is really their essence.
Trade Unions have been a unifying platform for members in making their voices heard by the government. The role of the trade union in Nigeria can’t be overlooked as trade unions are forces the government now reckons with.
The following are little out of the functions of the trade unions.
1. Protecting the right of members in all ways.
2. Negotiating with the government on increasing salaries and wages, with members’ working conditions.
3. Provide many learning opportunities for members.
4. Influencing government policies with their unified voice.
5. Enhancing Sectors standard and monitoring members’ behavior.
Depending on the specific trade unions, they provide many indispensable roles for their members. It’s a platform that encourages peasants and average workers to speak up against bad policies.
What trade union do you belong to? Have you benefitted from them in any way? Share with us what you have gained from them.