Industrial crisis may be looming in
the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as the Board of the tax agency on Sunday announced the dissolution of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) in the Service with immediate effect.
The FIRS said in a statement by its spokesperson, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, the decision to proscribe the Chapter of the Union followed the the discovery that the ranks of the union were made up of senior staff of tax agency.
An official of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) who spoke with our reporter on Monday in reaction to the proscription order by the FIRS Board described it as a recipe for industrial crisis.
The official, who requested that his identity should not be revealed, as he was not in a position to speak on the issue officially, said the implication is that the rights of members of the proscribed union to assemble on a platform to freely discuss their issues and concerns about their work have been stifled by FIRS management.
“The right of workers to join any group of his choice is not only an inalienable right guaranteed under freedom of association in the Constitution, but it is a fundamental right guaranteed in the relevant international Labour laws of which Nigeria is a signatory to,” the official said.
Our reporter could not reach any of the representatives of the proscribed union for their reaction at the time of this publication.
However, the FIRS said for reasons outlined in its official announcement to all staff, in line with Gazette No. 6 Vol 65 February 8, 1978 and the National Industrial Court Judgement June 27, 1995, the operations of NCSU FIRS Unit today is considered illegal as there are no longer any junior staff cadre employees in the service.
“There is accordingly no legal or other basis whatsoever for the continued existence of a junior staff cadre union in FIRS as the cadre of staff it is deemed to cover do not exist within the organisation,” the FIRS spokesperson said.
He referenced a letter from the Federal Ministry of Labour to the Head of Service of the Federation dated February 19, 2015, which he said confirmed the above position in categorical terms.
The statement further clarified that the right of workers to decide which union to belong is not absolute, but must be exercised within the limits of Trade Unions Act CAP T14 LFN 2004. He cited the confirmation of the position in the judgment of the National Industrial Court – NCSU vs ASCSN (2004) 1NLLR Part 3, 427.
“In the light of all the above, the FIRS Board at its meeting No. 30 held on the 24th June, 2021 therefore directed that, in view of items 1 & 2 above, the activities of NCSU FIRS Unit in the Service are henceforth considered illegal and the Union (NCSU FIRS Unit) is hereby proscribed with immediate effect,” the statement said.
“The Management also assured staff that it is unreservedly willing to work and cooperate with the only legitimate representatives of staff, that is to say the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria. ” “Accordingly, staff were called upon to redouble their efforts in executing the FIRS mandate of assessing, collecting and accounting for tax revenue for all levels of government as contained in the FIRS Establishment Act (2007),” it added.