NIGERIA AIRWAYS LIMITED AND NIGERIA AIRWAYS ASSOCIATION OF AIRCRAFT ENGINEERS & TECHNOLOGISTS (NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT) Hon. Justice (Chief) P.A. Atilade President Dr O.I. Odumosu Member S.O. Koku,ESQ. Member DR. E.C. Iwuji Member Alhaji Z.M. Bello Member SUIT NO: NIC/20/78 DATE OF RULING WEDNESDAY, 23RD JANUARY, 1980 LABOUR LAW "Trade dispute" - Meaning of - Section 37(1), Trade Disputes Decree, 1976. LABOUR LAW Trade dispute - Arbitration tribunal appointed under Trade Disputes Decree - Act or proceeding of- Whether can be questioned. LABOUR LAW Trade dispute - Parties thereto - Who are - Fact that trade union extinguished - Whether trade dispute thereby extinguished. LABOUR LAW Trade union - Where defunct - New trade union -Power of National Industrial Court to allow to take over case of old union - Section 26(1 )(g), Trade Disputes Decree, 1976. LABOUR LAW Trade union - Where extinguished - Application by new trade union to take over the conduct of a case therefrom - Power of court to grant -Rationale for. TRADE DISPUTE "Trade dispute" - Meaning of- Section 37(1), Trade Disputes Decree, 1976. TRADE DISPUTE Arbitration tribunal appointed under Trade Disputes Decree - Act or proceeding of- Whether can be questioned. TRADE DISPUTE Parties to trade disputes - Who are - Fact that trade union extinguished - Whether trade dispute thereby extinguished. TRADE UNION LAW Trade union - Where defunct - New trade union -Power of National Industrial Court to allow to take over case of old union - Section 26(1 )(g), Trade Disputes Decree, 1976. TRADE UNION LAW Trade union - Where extinguished- Application by new trade union to take over the conduct of a case therefrom - Power of court to grant -Rationale for. ISSUE: Whether there was nothing for the court to adjudicate upon after the Respondents had been replaced by the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers. FACTS: A trade dispute had arisen between the parties. The matter was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (I.A.P), which recommended an Award to the Commissioner for Labour. When the proposed Award was communicated to the objectors, a notice of objection dated 12th May, 1978, was promptly filed by their Counsel, Chief F.R.A Williams. Consequently, the Commissioner for Labour referred the dispute to the National Industrial Court. Before the objection could be heard, Chief Williams raised a preliminary point, which was subsequently reduced into writing by means of a notice of motion. He contended that the effect of the Trade Unions (Amendment) Decree No.22 of 1978, which came into effect on 3rd August, 1977, section 2(1) thereof, and section 2 of the Trade Union Decree No.31 of 1973, was that a trade union shall not perform any act unless it has been registered; and that where a trade union ceases to be so registered it shall no longer carry on with an appeal. He contended that the Respondent was no longer in existence. He referred to Schedule 3 of the Amendment Decree which contained a list of Registered and Recognized Trade Unions, item 4 of which reads: "National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers ". He contended that all the proceedings prior to the date when the Honourable Commissioner referred the matter to the court were null and void, and accordingly the reference or purported reference to the court was equally void. In his reply, Counsel for the Respondent, Mr. Sikuade referred to the application of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers Ref. No. NAAPE/E11 of 29th November, 1978 signed by the Secretary of that organization, asking that they be substituted for the Nigeria Airways Association of Aircraft Engineers and Technologists. The new organization was listed in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 6 of the 8th February, 1978, Vol.65, Item No.4. He contended that the notice concerned merely the restructuring of registered trade unions and did not abolish them. Before the hearing of the objectors' notice of motion, the court had given both Counsel a copy each of the ruling of the court on a similar application in Suit No. NIC/18/78 Persons Running the Affairs of the defunct Western Textile Company Ltd., and Another V. National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, "Ado-Ekiti case ". In that case, the court held inter alia that the fact that a trade union is extinguished does not affect the right of appearance of the workers, and that there is no question of a party to a trade dispute being extinguished. HELD: (Granting the application to substitute another party for the Respondent): 1. On Parties to a trade dispute - Trade disputes are those disputes between workers and employers. Therefore, the parties to a trade dispute are either workers or employers. The workers may choose to be represented by one organization or another. The privy right, however, to be a party to a trade dispute belongs to the workers on the one hand, and the employers on the other hand. The fact that workers call themselves by a name or another, or group themselves under a trade union, is irrelevant to the settlement of a trade dispute. The actual parties to a trade dispute are the workers on the one hand and the employer on the other. 2. On Whether fact that trade union extinguished means that one of the parties to a trade dispute is non-existent - The right of appearance before the National Industrial Court belongs to the workers. The trade unions are only the representatives of the workers. Thus, the fact that a certificate of registration to a trade union, which is a party to a trade dispute, is cancelled does not mean that one of the parties to a trade dispute is non-existent. "Alien, therefore, a trade union is extinguished by operation of law, the trade union's rights may or may not be extinguished. It is perfectly in order for the new industrial union worker, which the workers are re-grouped to apply to the court to represent the interest of the affected workers. 3. On Whether act or proceeding of arbitration tribunal appointed under the Trade Disputes Decree can be questioned - By section 8(4) of the Trade Disputes Decree No.7 of 1976 an act, proceeding or determination of an arbitration tribunal appointed under Section 7 of the Decree Shall not be questioned on the ground that a member or assessor was not validly appointed or on the ground of any unfilled vacancy authorized by subsections (2) or (3) of the section. 4. On Power of the National Industrial Court to allow a new trade union to take over conduct of a case from a defunct trade union - The court can exercise its powers under section 26(1 )(g) of the Trade Disputes Decree No.7 of 1976 to allow an application by a new trade union to take over the conduct of a case from a defunct trade union, to represent the interests of the affected workers. Moreover, It is within the court's right to use its wide powers and jurisdiction in the settlement of a trade dispute referred to it by the Commissioner. 5. On Meaning of "trade dispute" - By section 37(1) of the Trade Disputes Decree No.7 of 1976, trade dispute means any dispute between employers and workers, or between workers and workers, which is connected with employment or non-employment or the terms of employment and physical conditions of work of any person.