NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY WORKERS UNION AND NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY (NATIONALINDUSTRIAL COURT) H ON. 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/4/81 DATE OF JUDGMENT WEDNESDAY, 17TH FEBRUARY, 1982. LABOUR LAW Trade dispute -Arbitration Tribunal - Duties on - Section 9(1), Trade Disputes Act, 19 (as amended). LABOUR LAW Award - Power of Minister to refer back to tribunal for reconsideration. LABOUR LAW Trade union - Staff categorization Company's staff within the designation executive or senior staff- Categorization by company as part of its management Whether legitimate - Section 3(3) and (4), Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978. LABOURLAW Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978 Constitutionality of- Section 41 of the 1979 Constitution. TRADE DISPUTE Arbitration Tribunal - Duties on - Section 9(1), Trade Disputes Act, 1976 amended). TRADE DISPUTE Trade dispute - Award - Power of Minister to refer back to Tribunal for reconsideration. TRADE UNION LAW Staff categorization -Company's staff within the designation executive or senior staff -Categorization of by company as part of its management - Whether legitimate - Section 3(3) and (4), Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978. TRADE UNION LAW Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978 -Constitutionality of- Section 41 of the 1979 Constitution. ISSUES: 1. Whether the Industrial Arbitration Panel Award as conveyed to the Nigerian Ports Authority Workers' Um<m by the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity was not the original award of the Panel. 2. Whether the Respondent's categorization of its employees on salary Grade Level 08 and above as part of its management force was legitimate and justified. FACTS: There was a dispute between the Appellant and the Respondent, which was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP). The IAP made a "No Award" in respect of claim 6 which sought that all Nigerian Ports Authority Employees on Grade Level 01 to Grade Level 11 be regarded as members of the Nigerian Ports Authority Workers' Union. THE Appellant objected to the "No Award" decision, which was referred to the National Industrial Court. The Appellants contended that since staff on Grade Level 11 downwards in the National Electric Power Authority, the Federal Radio Cooperation of Nigeria and the Civil Service belonged to such unions as the National Union of Journalists; Civil Service Union of Nigeria. Thus, IAP Award amounted to discrimination against the Appellant and could not be defended on the basis of the Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978 which defines "executive or senior staff” as any member of the staff recognized as projection of management as all staff in the public corporations from salary Grade Level 11 downwards perform identical functions since they are all within the Civil Service Unified system. On the part of the Respondent, it was contended that the Respondent had power under the relevant statutory authority to designate all its employees on salary Grade Level 08 and above as part of its management force. It was also contended that it was not bound to adopt the decision of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (F.R.C.N) on the categorization of its employees as junior or management staff. It was further contended that the Respondent led evidence during the proceedings before the IAP to show that officers on Grade Level 08 - 11 perform management functions. HELD; (Dismissing the appeal and affirming the IAP Award): 1. On Duties on arbitration tribunal under section 9(1), Trade Disputes Act, 1976 (as amended) - By section 9(1) of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976 (as amended), an arbitration tribunal is obliged to make its award within certain specified period; at the same time, the tribunal is also enjoined to send a copy of the award only to the Minister and shall not communicate the award to the parties affected. 2. On Powers of Minister to refer award back to tribunal for reconsideration - By virtue of section 9(2) and (2a) of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976 (as amended), the I Minister has power to refer an award back to the Tribunal for re-consideration before 131 release and publication to both parties. 3. On Whether company can designate "executive or senior staff as part of its management - By the combined provision of section 3(3) and (4) of the Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978 no executive or senior staff shall be a member of or hold office in a trade 1 union whose members are workers of a rank junior to his own; but such executive or I senior staff may form and be members of or hold office in a trade union of workers of I equal or higher rank than his own. And for the purpose of the section; "executive or senior staff' means any member of staff recognized as a projection of management1 within the management structure, in terms of status, authority, powers, duties and] accountability, which are reflected in the conditions of service, and by virtue of which the membership of a trade union of junior staff grade may lead to a conflict of the union or to the management. Thus, in so far as the categories of a company's staff fall within the designation] "executive or senior staff' as defined in section 3(3) and (4) of the Trade Union (Amendment) Act, 1978, the Respondent's action in implementing the above mentioned provisions of the law by designating its employees on salary level 8 and above as part of its management force is perfectly legitimate and justified. 4. On Constitutionality of the Trade Union (Amendment) Act - The validity of the provisions of the Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 1978 cannot be questioned by reference to section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution in view of the provision of section 41 of the said constitution, which inter alia, states that nothing in section 37 of the Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of public order.