A trade union is an organization made up of members and its membership must be made up of mainly workers.


5/27/20222 min read


A trade union is an organization made up of members and its membership must be made up mainly of workers. Its main aim is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the workplace. Trade Unions Act is the main legislation regulating trade unions in Nigeria. The Act makes provisions for the formation, registration, and organization of trade unions, federation of trade unions and the central labour organisation. Section 2 of the Trade Unions Act makes it a mandate for a trade union to be registered. The section further prohibits the operation of an unregistered trade union except for the purposes connected with having the union registered.

Section 5 of the Trade Unions Act provides that the Registrar of Trade Unions has the power to register trade unions in Nigeria. Application for registration as a trade union is to be made to the Registrar in the prescribed form, which must be signed by at least 50 members in the case of workers’ union and 2 members in the case of employers’ union.

As provided in Section 3(6) of the Act, the application is to be accompanied by 2 copies of the rules of the union (its Constitution) which must make provisions for the matters specified in the 1st Schedule to the Act, as amended, and a list showing the name, address, age and occupation of each of the persons by whom the application of each official of the union.

The Registrar is empowered to refuse the registration of a trade union, if it appears to him that any existing trade union is sufficiently representative of the interests of the class of persons whose interests the union is intended to protect.

In a situation where registration of a trade union is turned down, the affected party may appeal to the Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity. Where refusal to register is on the basis of name used, the right of appeal lies with the Minister and the Minister’s decision is final.

Notably, as provided in Section 3(2) of the Trade Unions Act, no combination of workers or employers will be registered as a trade union except with the approval of the Minister on his being satisfied that it is expedient to register the union either by regrouping existing trade unions, registering a new trade union or, in any other manner. However, no trade union will be registered to represent workers or employers in a place where there already exists a trade union.

A certificate of registration must be issued on registration and this is conclusive evidence of compliance with the law and that it has been duly registered. Registration grants legal recognition to a trade union. After registration of a trade union, it becomes a legal entity and acquires the attributes of corporate personality, though not a corporation.

However, the Registrar may cancel the registration of a trade union based on the fact that:

A] the registration of the trade union was obtained by fraud or mistake;

B] any of the purposes of the union is unlawful;

C] after warnings, the union had continued to contravene the provisions of the Act;

D] the purpose for which the union is in practice being carried on is a purpose other than that of regulating the terms and conditions of employment of workers; or

E] the union though still in existence, has ceased to function, or that the union has ceased to exist.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact



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