Assessment Of Collective Bargaining And Industrial Conflict Management In Nigerian Universities

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Assessment Of Collective Bargaining And Industrial Conflict Management In Nigerian Universities


The major problem of the study is the poor management of Industrial Conflicts within the University in spite the mechanism (collective bargaining) at the disposal of the Actors (ASUU and Management) with which to curtail such menace. The main research question of the study: Does collective bargaining enhances effective industrial conflict management in PUT, Minna? The main objective of the study is the assessment of the effectiveness of collective bargaining as a strategy for industrial conflict management. The main hypothesis of the study is that, collective bargaining is not the most effective strategy for industrial conflict management in FUT, Minna. Survey and documentary methods of data gathering were employed and the data for the study was analyzed quantitatively with more emphasis on the latter. The study adopted conflict management Theory propounded by Mary Parker Follett, which suggested three methods of conflict management namely; domination compromise and integration. She approves integration as the best method of conflict management and this study agreed with her, because integration method is line with collective bargaining principle.

The main findings of the study revealed that collective bargaining is the most effective strategy for industrial conflict management in Federal University of Technology, Minna. The delay in compliance to collective agreements contributed significantly to industrial conflict. This research work therefore, recommended that the management and ASUU of FUT, Minna should always endeavour to embrace collective bargaining for industrial conflict management in order to promote industrial harmony and enhance employee performances in the University. The actors should strictly adhere to agreement reached collectively in order to forestall work stoppage by the union or closure by the management.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The practice of Industrial relations as a discipline and that of collective bargaining in particular emanated from the private sector the world over. Thus much of the practices of public sector collective bargaining are modelled after the private sector collective bargaining. However, in Nigeria, the obverse is the case as collective bargaining gained its root in the public sector at the turn of the century (Fashoyin 1992).

However, in Nigeria, the public sector pays lips service to the collective bargaining machinery. Governments at all levels (federal, state and local) have continued to set aside collective bargaining and give wage awards to score political points in spite of its commitment to ILO convention 98 to freely bargain with workers. The state or the government in the course of regulatory wages and employment terms and conditions revert to the use of wage commissions. Thus, wage determination is by fiat. This preference for wage commission can at best be regarded as unilateral system as collective bargaining is relegated to the background. Wage tribunals or commissions offer little opportunity for workers’ contribution in the determination of terms and conditions of employment can hardly be viewed as bilateral or tripartite. Thus, the state preference for wage commissions is anti-collective bargaining.

In spite of Nigeria’s commitment to conventions of the ILO with particular reference to such conventions as 87 of 1948 and 98 of 1949 which provide for freedom of association and the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. This stance of the state has stifled effective collective bargaining in the public sector. The use of ad hoc commission in addressing workers’ demands such wage determination and other terms and conditions is unilateral and undemocratic principles. Thus, it is antithetical to democratic values.

It was only in 1981 under the Shagari civilian administration that a tripartite wage bargaining took place following the general workers strike of May, 1981 organized by the NLC accessioned by the demand of NLC for wage review. This led to the minimum wage of #125. Damachi led tripartite minimum wage committee inaugurated by the Babanbgida regime on January 30, 1990; which was manipulated by President Babangida who determined the minimum wage of #250. The constitutional government of Obasanjo like its military predecessor, the Abubakar regime also avoided any tripartite collective bargaining in the fixing of the 1999 national minimum wage of #7,500 and recently the fixing of #18,000 national minimum wage which was passed into law in 2011 was not based on collective bargaining. The government merely consulted with officials of the Nigerian Labour Congress without carrying out on board private sector employers and state governments who were to implement the wage awards at the state and local government levels. This exclusion generated serious conflicts at those levels as state governments expressed inability to pay, and consequently conceded to various shades of collective bargaining and agreements. It should be noted that the preference of state for wage commissions was inherited from colonial administrators.

Collective bargaining in the public sector is carried out at three complementary levels through the machinery known as National Public Service Negotiating Councils (NPSNCs). The National Public Service Negotiating Council is subdivided into three councils;

Council 1: Used by the management (official) side represented by the Establishment Departments of Federal and State Governments. On the workers (staff) side the Association ofSenior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) whose members are drawn from grade levels 07-14 at the federal and State civil services. The ASCSN approximates the senior staff association in the private sector.

Council 11: Used by the management (official) side, this is made up as in council above, On the Staff side, two unions Nigerian Civil Service Union (NCSU) and Nigerian Union of Civil Service Typists, Stenographic and Allied Staff (NUCSTSS). Employees covered by this council are drawn from the clerical, secretariat, executive and non-industrial cadres usually on grade levels 01-06.

Council 111. Used by the management sides as in council 1 & 2 above. On the staff side are five unions namely:

  1. The Civil service Technical Workers Union of Nigeria (CSTWUN).
  2. Printing and Publishing Workers Union (PPWU).
  3. National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).
  4. Medical and Health Workers Union.
  5. Customs Excise and Immigration Staff Union (proscribed in 1988).

It should be noted that bargaining issues (scope of bargaining) in the public sectors are spelt out in the constitution Oof the NPSNC .This constitution approximates the procedural agreement in the private sector and it is applicable to practically all employers in the public sector. It should be noted that the above applies to the pure civil service.

The National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) applies such as Power- Holding Company of Nigeria Plc (formerly NEPA); Universities, NRC, Nigeria Ports Authority etc as well as NITEL to mention a few.

Thus, collective bargaining in the public sector is faced with practical difficulties; one of these difficulties concerns the issues of bargaining. Many of the substantive issues which are within the scope of the NPSNC are decreed either by legislative or executive acts or through political commission periodically set up0by civil service rules. Thus, both methods of job regulation are quite distinct from collective bargaining in public employment. Thus, the role of NPSNC in Nigeria is virtually irrelevant owing to the decisive role and influence of other government agencies. These developments have undermined the relevance of collective bargaining in the public sector (Kaufman, 1998).

Under Nigeria labour law, the most important step in the collective bargaining procedure is for the employer or employers’ association to recognise the trade union as a bargaining agent for the employers within the bargaining unit in relation to terms and conditions of employment. Section 24 of the Trade Unions Act provides that for the purpose of collective bargaining all registered unions in the employment of an employer shall constitute an electoral college to elect members who will represent them in negotiations with the employer. Similarly, for the purpose of representation at Tripartite Bodies or any other body registered Federation of Trade Unions shall constitute an Electoral College taking into account the size of each registered federation for the purpose of electing members who will represent them. Where a trade union is recognised, the next step is for a recognition agreement to be drawn up to determine how the negotiations will be conducted, the composition of the machinery and other procedural matters.

Once a trade union has been recognised and a recognition agreement is drawn up between the parties, bargaining can then proceed as provided by the law. In this regard, the Wages Board and Industrial Councils Act 1990 provides for three bargaining fora in Nigeria. The three fora have appropriate wages and conditions of service as their main objective Bargaining can be effected by Industrial Wages and Area Minimum Wages Committee or Joint Industrial Councils.

The contract of employment by the employer is by nature imbalanced due to the fact that its content is largely determined by the employer by the virtue of him owning the means of production and this places him/her in a stronger bargaining position. As employees need work more than the employer needs the services of a particular employee, they tend to accept any terms and conditions offered to them, even if they turn out to be exploitative. This is especiallytrue of employees who enter the labour market without special skills. The high unemployment rate facing most countries also leaves employees with very little choice but to accept whatever is on offer.

As employees desire recognition, satisfaction, fair wages and salaries, job security and good working conditions, so also the employers seek to secure labour at the price that would allow a reasonable margin for investment and further expect an uninterrupted production and distribution of goods and supply of services which is planned on calculated cost and risk. Government on its parts desires a well regulated relationship between and among industrial relations actors for a strong economy .The process that have been used particularly in western developed countries for the attainment of these goals and aspirations of all the parties involvedis through collective bargaining .In Nigeria, like in most developing countries ,if collective bargaining as internal mechanism fails due to the inability of the actors (ASUU and Management) to reach agreement other statutory mechanism follows, that is mediation, arbitration, conciliation and so on.(Adegun, 1998).

The social cost of conflict is so enormous that a serious manager would do all within his capacity to find out the best strategy /or conflict resolution. In case of tertiary education, like Nigerian Universities, unsettled conflict has serious implication on the number of years the students would spend in the Universities as well as the victim of retrenchment exercise accompanying the face-off between the labour union and the employer.

It is against this background that this research work sought to assess the effectiveness of collective bargaining as a strategy for industrial conflict management in Nigerian Universities using Federal University of Technology, (PUT) Minna as its case study.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Universities are formal organizations with special goals of channeling and shaping the destiny of mankind. Through teaching, research and public service (obani, 1995). They produce individuals who through their intellectual contributions to society better the lots of mankind (federal government of Nigeria, 2000). These goals are accomplished through human cooperation action (Onah, 2005) between management and labour union (academic and non-academic ).Some shared and opposed interests are found when workers and management work together. Those shared enhance industrial harmony and peace, while those opposed generates industrial conflict (Crouch, 1977). Differences between employees and management in terms of goals, needs, talents, skills, status, competencies, perception, aggressiveness and other diverse features of members of organization makes conflict inevitable (umoren, 2001,Jaja and umczuruike 2004).

The failure of the management of Federal University of Technology (PUT) Minna is attributable to poor management of industrial conflicts within the university; the conflicts have given rise distrust and hostility among professionals’ academics thus contributing in hampering the smooth, effective and efficient administration in the university. It is also appeared that ‘despite this situation the management of the university seemed to develop nonchalant attitude towards these conflicts. If this conflicts is not properly manage, it can be descriptive and negative as people involved will see one another as enemies rather partners in progress. This is unwholesome for the University community and Nigeria Educational system as a whole. We are in ever-changing economic, technology, social, and political era in which conflicts has become inevitable in a dynamic organization. Hence, there is need to employ effective strategy for industrial conflict management. Change and economic growth bring opportunity, but they also pose threat particularly by in an era of worldwide rivalry for market resources and influence.

In Federal University of Technology (PUT) Minna, the causes of industrial conflict are as a result of poor consultation in terms of decision making, poor working conditions and non -payment of salary as when due.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of industrial conflicts between ASUU and Management in Federal University of Technology, Minna?
  2. How effective is collective bargaining as a strategy in managing industrial conflicts in Federal University of Technology, Minna?
  3. Do Management and ASUU members delay in compliance to collective agreement reached in FUT, Minna?

1.4 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to assess the effectiveness of the collective bargaining as a strategy for industrial conflict management in Federal University Technology Minna. However, the intermediate objectives of the study include the following:

  1. To find out the causes of industrial conflicts between ASUU and Management in Federal University of Technology, Minna.
  2. To determine how effective collective bargaining as a strategy is in managing industrial conflicts in FUT, Minna.
  3. To find out whether the delay in compliance to collective agreement reached contribute significantly to industrial conflicts in FUT, Minna.

1.5 Statement of Hypotheses

In order to achieve the objective of this study the following hypotheses was formulated.

Hypothesis I
  • H0: Collective bargaining is not the most effective strategy for managing industrial conflicts in Federal University of Technology, (FUT) Minna.
  • H1: Collective bargaining is the most effective strategy for industrial conflict management in Federal University of Technology, Minna.
Hypothesis II
  • H0: Delay in compliance to collective agreement does not contribute significantly to industrial conflicts in FUT, Minna.
  • H1: Delay in compliance to collective agreement contributes significantly to industrial conflicts in FUT, Minna.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is significant, in the sense that it focuses on the effectiveness of collective bargaining for industrial conflict management in FUT, Minna. This study is unique, because it focused on how collective bargaining can be use in achieving industrial harmony in our Universities. It is the beliefs of this study that if the problems that have been affecting industrial harmony in our Universities are discovered and the way to overcome it is improved, that is finding the effective strategy to curtail such problems. The efforts of the stakeholders to have a conducive learning environment would be attained.

Also, this study apart from adding to existing literatures in the management of industrial conflict in our educational sector, it would also serve as point of reference to actors in other sectors on how collective bargaining can be employed in managing industrial conflicts in their respective organizations.

Finally, this study would also be significant to Universities management who are now in vantage position to apply management of industrial conflicts by consultations in all issues involving labour.

1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study

Our focus in this research work is concerned with how effective collective bargaining would be in ensuring harmonious working relationship between management and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Federal University of Technology, Minna. There are many in-house unions existing in FUT, Minna, but our scope is confined to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which is the one of the vibrant union in this country, because they don’t compromise standard. The period covered by the study is 2001 – 2011. The justification for this period is the fact that we are in democracy in which our expectations about government are becoming high, that we expects much compliance to constitutional provision by the government and every agreements it enters into with the union.


The limitation faced in the course of this study was lack of access to vital information that could have been of great help in this research work.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms


This can be defined as a disagreement or clash between ideas, principles or people. Industrial Conflict: This could be defined as the inability of employers and employees to reach agreement on any issue connected with the subject of employer-employees interaction.

Collective Bargaining

This is defined as a situation whereby the employees and the employers are free to negotiate their relationships about the terms and working conditions without government interference.

Trade Union:

This is an association of employees for the purpose of promoting and protecting the interest of their members about terms and conditions of employment. Employee: Is anyone who has agreed to be employed under a contract of service to work for some form of payment.


Is a legal entity that directs a servant employment and pay or is obligated to pay him or her salary or wages in compensation.


This is the employer’s action of closing a business for the purpose of enforcing a demand on employees by causing them to be thrown out of work.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

Ultimately, research study is all about to discover the underlying cause(s) or principle(s) behind a phenomenon. For instance, the central focus of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the collective bargaining as a strategy for Industrial Conflict Management in Nigerian Universities. To achieve this Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna was chose as a case study. The time frame for this study was from 2001-2010, this period was characterised by series of industrial actions in our Universities. Data for this study was collected from both primary and secondary sources. Yamane’s sampling technique was used in arriving at the sample size of this study. The study used Mary Parker Follett Conflict Management Theory as its theoretical framework.

On the whole, this study has established that collective bargaining is the most effective strategy for industrial conflict management in Federal University of Technology, Minna. It further argued in this study that for any meaningful socio-economic development to occur governments must ensure stability in educational sector at levels. It is also the submission of this study that, collective bargaining as a conflict management strategy is central to any government and stakeholders in industrial relations that is set to ensure industrial harmony and stability in our educational system and extension the national development.

5.2 Conclusions

An attempt has been made in this study through a case study research to assess how collective bargaining can be employed as a strategy for industrial conflict management relations at the workplace generally. A critical look at the respondents’ views has amply demonstrated that collective bargaining has gained prominent degree of recognition as an effective approach to conflict management and industrial harmony not only in the literature but also in practice. This agrees with Ubeku (1985) and Fashoyin (1992) findings that strike is destructive both to the employers, employees and the society at large, leading to decrease in productivity, loss of contract year, loss of profit resulting from loss of revenue, net earnings and idle equipment.

As such, every university could employ collective bargaining in managing industrial conflict as it create room for divergent interest of the actors to be put forward for discussion in a round table conference with the aim of integrating them or coming out with lasting solution to the conflict(s).

Also, this study revealed that the breach of collective agreement contributes significantly to industrial conflict in Federal University of Technology, Minna. This was because the majority of the respondents in the six (6) variables confirmed to this assertion.

5.3 Recommendations

It is in the light of above findings that this research study strongly recommends the following for implementation.

  1. The government, business organizations, employers of labour, employees, non-profit organizations and all stakeholders in industrial relations should endeavour to embrace collective bargaining, consultation with union representatives and negotiation between employers and employees as the machinery to manage industrial conflicts in their effort to promote industrial harmony, enhance employees performance, increase productivity and improve the living standard of the generality of the people.
  2. The management and employers of labour should always avoid delay in compliance to collective agreement reached with the union representatives.
  3. The management of the Federal University of Technology, Minna should ensure that they adequately consult their lecturers on any issues that affect them and also to try as much as possible to improve the welfare their employees by given them their entitlement as at when due.
  4. The management in order to maintain industrial harmony should ensure that they implement collective agreement reached to the latter.

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