Trade Unions In Nigeria: Types | Solutions to Problems Facing Trade Unions

Trade unions attempt to improve workers’ conditions. They act as mediators between members and employers in collective bargaining on employment terms and benefits.

They work hard to assure members’ equitable treatment and social fairness.

Trade unions aim to promote peace and resolve disputes between members and employers.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is the main union for all employees . This union represents all Nigerian workers. It was founded in 1950 and reorganized in 1978.

Trade Unions In Nigeria

Types Of Trade Unions

Nigeria has four main trade unions:

  • Unions. Unions represent Nigerian industrial employees.
  • Craft Unions. These unions represent skilled handiworkers, such as barbers, tailors, and carpenters.
  • General Unions. It represents all Nigerian workers. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is one example.
  • White-Collar Unions. These unions cover all white-collar jobs.

Aims And Objectives Of Trade Unions In Nigeria

Some of the aims and objectives of trade unions in Nigeria, according to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), are:

  • To keep working to improve the economic, political, and social well-being of Nigerian workers, defend it, and move it forward.
  • To support and protect the rights, well-being, and interests of workers at work and in society as a whole.
  • To promote and protect the rights, interests, and well-being of pensioners and to make sure that society recognizes them.
  • To keep making people’s lives better and to improve their wages and other working conditions.
  • To support and defend trade unions, human rights, the rule of law, and democratic government.
  • To work for the industrialization and prosperity of Nigeria as a whole, and to protect jobs, make sure there is full employment, and make sure workers are treated well at work.
  • To keep trying to change public corporate policies and laws on all levels, for the benefit of workers, social groups with fewer opportunities, and trade unions.

Achievements Of Trade Unions In Nigeria

Since Nigeria got its independence, trade unions have been at the center of a number of important worker rights movements. Some of the most important things that the NLC, which is the umbrella group for all trade unions in Nigeria, has done are:

Review of the minimum wage

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been a leader in three different campaigns to change the minimum wage. The first time was in 1981, when Hassan Sunmonu was in charge. The price went up from 120 to 125.

After that, it went from 5500 to 7500 while Obasanjo was in charge. Lastly, people fought hard for the new minimum wage of 18,000, which was finally put into place on March 27, 2011.

Stiff resistance of government policies

On January 9, 2012, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which are the two largest groups of workers in the country, called for an indefinite strike to protest the removal of fuel subsidies on January 1, 2012.

The fight for freedom and democracy

Nigerian trade unions have been very important in the fight for democracy. Some of the most important things that people did to help democracy in Nigeria were to fight against military rule, especially during the campaign for free and fair elections in June 1993, and to fight against corruption.

Challenges Facing Trade Unions In Nigeria

Even though trade unions in Nigeria have done a lot of good things, they still have a lot of problems. I will talk about some of these issues below:

Not Always Paying Attention

In Nigeria, trade unions are more active in the larger businesses and in areas with a lot of businesses. But trade union activities are not very strong in the smaller groups.

This is the main reason why workers in smaller companies with weak unions are often treated unfairly by their bosses.

Small Size

Nigeria has more than a hundred trade unions right now. Most of these unions are small in terms of how many there are. Their small size means that their decisions and positions don’t matter.

Insufficient Fund

Only a small number of trade unions in Nigeria have a lot of members. The rest always have fewer people in their group, which hurts their financial strength and income.

Also, most of the members of bigger unions don’t pay their dues. This also hurts the financial health of the union in a big way.

Poor Leadership

Nigerian trade union members always fight over who should be in charge of the union during elections.

During elections, trade unions are known for leadership fights, disagreements, and division. This is because most of the members are always more concerned with their own needs than with the needs of the union as a whole.

Another problem with the way trade unions are run in Nigeria is that corrupt politicians often take advantage of union leaders. This has hurt the reputation of trade unions in Nigeria in a big way.


Some trade unions in Nigeria have a bad name because both their leaders and their members are very corrupt. Both members and leaders have been accused of bribery, gross misconduct, abusing their power, and stealing the union’s money and property.

More and more unions

Another thing that makes it hard for trade unions to grow in Nigeria is that there are multiple unions in the same field.

This always leads to fights and competition. Also, when there are multiple unions in the same field, workers tend to split themselves up between the different groups. This makes them less effective and hurts their ability to bargain as a group.


Most members of trade unions don’t care much about what the union does, and they hardly ever show up to meetings.

This is mostly because workers don’t have enough time, don’t care about money, or don’t know what the benefits of joining a trade union are.

This way of thinking hurts the union’s ability to bargain as a group and to fight for workers’ rights when their rights are violated by their employers or the government.