Lagos---His Lordship, Hon. Justice Isaac Essien of the National Industrial Court, sitting in Lagos, has granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Association of Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institution whether by itself or through their officers and or members from relating with GTL Registrars Ltd purportedly on behalf of Adeleye Mary Arit and 39 others in any matter relating to the their employment.
The court held that the jurisdiction of the association to unionize worker in part B of the third schedule to the Trade Union Act clearly excludes the Adeleye Mary Arit and 39 others-claimants who work for GTL Registrars Ltd which is not a financial institution.
The claimants by an originating summons dated the 7th day of February 2019 sought for determination Even if the claimants qualify as persons contemplated to be members of the defendant association (though not conceded), is it not a breach of the claimant’s fundamental rights to freedom of association for the defendants to compel the claimants’ membership of its association, in the face of the claimants’ resistance?
Upon the determination, The claimants sought among others for A DECLARATION that the claimants being the Senior Staff of GTL REGISTRARS LTD, do not fall within the Jurisdictional scope and or category of membership of the defendant, having regard to the nature of business of the claimant’s employer and cannot therefore be required and or compelled to be registered as members of the defendant.
AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant whether by itself or through their officers and or members from relating with the claimants’ employers--GTL REGISTRARS LTD-purportedly on behalf of the claimants or any of the claimants in any matter relating to the claimant’s employment or howsoever.
The defendant filed a counter affidavit, counter claimed and sought for determination whether the claimants as members of the defendant/counter-claimant are not bound to pay their check off dues up till to the point of resigning their membership of the defendant/counter-claimant.
Counsel argued none of the businesses of the claimant’s employers can be categorized as banking, insurance or financial activities that the employees of any organization whose activities fall outside this classification cannot be unionised by the defendant.
He stated that the activities of the claimants’ employers are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and not by CBN.
In response, the defendant counsel argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to determine whether the claimants’ employer is a financial institution or not.
Counsel further maintained in the alternative that assuming the court has jurisdiction to entertain the action, that the claimant employer has always been a financial institution and relied on ASSBIFI letter from the state controller of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity addressed to the managing director of the defunct Union Registrars Ltd, stating that Union Registrars is a financial institution.
Defendant posited that claimants employer is a financial institution within the meaning of section 66 of BOFIA Act 2004 urged the court to resolve issue one against the claimant.
The presiding Judge, Justice Essien while delivering the judgment affirmed court jurisdiction and held that defendant counsel argument on jurisdiction clearly misrepresents the law.
“To rely on The Association of Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Other Financial Institution (ASSBIFI) letter in urging this court to recognize the employers of the claimants as a financial institution for the purpose of unionizing the claimants is to put their claim on a very faulty foundation.
“No institution, person, ministry howsoever called can usurp the interpretative jurisdiction of any court of law in Nigeria over a statute that is considered in a matter before a court.
“Even assuming but not conceding that the Memorandum of Association of Union Registrars Ltd could be used to determine the operational activities of GTL Registrars Ltd. the mere fact that there are clauses that suggest the engagement in financial activities would not qualify GTL Registrars Ltd as a financial institution in the absence of evidence that GTL Registrars Ltd, carry on such businesses.
In all, the court held that GTL Registrars Ltd is not a financial institution recognized by section 66 of the Bank and other Financial Institution Act 2004 and the defendant cannot unionize the claimants who are the employees of GTL Registrars Ltd.
His Lordship granted AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant whether by itself or through their, officers and or members from relating with the claimants’ employer GTL –Registrars Ltd purportedly on behalf of the claimants or any of the claimants in any matter relating to the claimants· employment or howsoever and awarded Cost of N100,000 against the defendant.