Why medical union raised check-off dues to NLC, by Wabba
THE steady increment of the check off due the Medical and Health Medical Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) paid to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was informed by the rising fortune of the union over the past four years.
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who is also the immediate past President of the MHWUN, Ayuba Wabba, disclosed at the 9th National delegates’ conference of the union in Abuja, that MHWUN did not deliberately increase its check-off dues but simply complied with the Trade Union Act.
His explanation: “At the 2003 NLC delegates conference, our union was competing from the rear with just nine delegates. During the next conference of the NLC in February 2007, our delegation had increased to 75 out of total of slightly 1,000 delegates, which made our union to occupy the fourth position among affiliate industrial unions. During the 10th delegates conference of the NLC in 2011, our union had moved to second position and by the last conference in February/March this year, we had pushed ourselves to the number one, with 527 delegates out of slightly over 3,000 total delegates to the conference.
“This tremendous growth took place because we reformed our union by plugging area of leakages. We also insisted that the 10% of our check-off dues which is due to NLC should deducted at source and paid to Congress as and when due. As we grew our finances via check-off dues from N175million in 2004 when we took over the leadership of the union, to over N1.1billion in 2011, over N1.68billion in 2012 and over N2billion mark in 2013 and 2014, so did our payment to the NLC increased over the period. Some of our detractors have sought to argue that our payments to the NLC over the years since we took over leading this, has been because of the ambitions of some of us in the leadership, to occupy elective positions in the NLC. The truth of the matter is that we only chose to do what is right. Those of our colleagues in other unions that are shortchanging the NLC by paying less than the 10% statutorily meant for the NLC are breaking the Trade Union Act and therefore breaking the law. We therefore refuse to be apologetic for doing what the law requires of us.”
Wabba stressed that the increment the MHWUN paid to the NLC over the past few years has also robbed off positively on other members of the union as many that contested for positions at the state level won. With most of them coming on board, Wabba said such privilege position will increase the voice and visibility of the union in the NLC affairs and struggles.
Again, he added: “During the recently held state delegates conference of the NLC, our members won leadership positions in majority of the states in the federation. This means that with our members occupying leadership positions at both national state structures of the NLC, when the NLC goes to discuss workers welfare issues at any level of government at the federal and state, our direct representatives are on those discussions/negotiation tables. Therefore, funding of the NLC is another way of ensuring that we protect the interest of medical and health members across the country.
We therefore must continue to take our funding obligations to Congress with all seriousness.”
On the precarious state of the health sector, Wabba declared that Nigeria must come to terms with decay in sector, saying there is urgent need to go back to the basic and prioritize investment in health infrastructure, training and re-training of human resources and strike to attain set targets in the sector.
Speaking on the danger of losing the steam and return the union to the unpleasant past, Wabba stated that the new incoming leadership will have rich documentation of all relevant organ decisions and processes that will serve as guide on how the union had been administered since he took over in December 2004.
“As a leadership, it is our hope that the next set of leaders at the national and state levels of our union will be committed people who would strive to build on the firm foundation we have laid to move the union further forward and not to retard it or cause reversals. In the unlikely event of this happening anytime in the future, I have implicit confidence that the rank and file will resist such retrogression,” he said.