Industrial Conflict And National Development
Industrial conflict is no new phenomenon. Literature is vast with contributions from authors, researchers and “News hunters”. In the event (If an overtly demonstrated conflict (strike) varied opinions are expressed as to the causing factors and the impacts of the strike on the employees, employers and the state.
The three actors bears the blame though varied magnitude depending on the circumstance and role played by the actor in either aggravating or resolving the crisis.
The question that is often enacted is “why societal segregation with pluralistic groups? Biblically, the segregation into master (employer) and servant (employee) groups exist to show this has been time immemorial.
However, the bible posits ethical behavior expected of the servant to the master and vice-versa. The servant is to obey legal orders of the master in performing his or her duties while the master is to give to the servants their appropriate dues (wages and salaries) and avoid threatening but motivating the workers. Strike is often frowned at when one considers the overwhelming destructive outcome of a protracted crisis. These theories supporting the unitary ideology had vehemently preached that employers and the employees should see themselves a one and partners in progress. As such no one should rock the boat lest they both sink.
According to the 1927 International Labour Office (ILO) Report, communist theory (unitary) of trade union presents two aspects which differ according to whether action is contemplated under a capitalist regime, it is the duty of the evolutionary trade union to unite, discipline and educate the masses with a view to the abolition of capitalism, and to progress towards the creation of a socialist regime. In terms of structure, attempts should be made to convert craft unions into industrial unions and one undertaking one union should be the norm, enabling all classes of workers in an undertaking or factory to form a compact group in the face of employer however, under a proletarian or communist regime, the trade union according to Burkharin and Preobrazhensky, must transform themselves into economic sections and organs of the state power. The illogicality of strike by workers when industry has become public property and Bourgeoisie capitalists has been overt thrown automatically follows.
The year 1938 was a landmark in the history of modern trade unionism in Nigeria, for it saw the beginning of a coherent public labour policy, under pressure from the British colonial office in London, the trade union ordinance which formerly legalized trade unions and made provision for their internal administration and external regulations. The intent of the law was to prepare Nigeria for the inevitable trade disputes, which would naturally accompany industrialization.
In view of the above positive consideration, strikes (conflicts) are not an aberration of ethical behavior but a necessary evil to promote development.
However, balance needs to be struck. Too much of conflict can paralyse the life and structure of a nation while increasing level of conflict leads to progressive growth in industrialization and unionization.
1.1 Background Of The Study
Over the years, Nigeria has had its fair share of industrial conflict. In this introductory part, I will briefly take a historical overview on accessions where collective actions are strategically employed (employers and repressive government).
Much of the easy development of trade unions occurred around and immediately after the First World War (1914) in which Nigeria alone with other West Africa British colonies participated with British Government. As should be expected, the effect of war on cost of living or war bonus as it was when popularly known, became an issue in trade union circles during and immediately after the war.
In response to demands for wages increase, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies appointed a one-man commission, Sir A Renton, to enquire into the report on the condition of living of the native staff. Following this enquiry 10% of wages was granted on war bonus but the staff and workers generally considered the rate inadequately. The demand of the union varies from 25 to 50% wage increase.
Inspite of petitions and pressure by labour unions, the government refuse d to grant the offer.
News of work stoppages spread through the railways. The General Manager refused to give consideration to the union’s grievance and demand for wages increase until the strikers resumed duty. They claimed that the grievance was not known before the strike and so the action was unconstitutional and illegal.
The above strike action which saw the mediate of Prince Eleko, the Oba of Lagos, was the first organized strike in Nigeria. On their part, the Union leader agreed to call off the strike in Nigeria. On the part of the Union leaders, there would be no victimization of strikers and that the grievance and claim was wage increase would be settled without out delay. The strike was eventually called off on January 19, 1920 on the government agreement to accept the conditions requested by the union.
Otobo (1988) writing on the colonial state and industrial relations with special attention on colonial labour policies states that “labour policy in the period 1862 to 1900 was directed stable labour force, ensuring a ready market for imported goods and wares and, to generate conditions favourable for ‘legitimate trade’ and other commercial activities of increasing importance to metropolitan business and to European national rivalries.
1.2 Problem Of Study
Industrial conflict disrupts the achievement of the economic growth and development for the nation as a result of the loss of output in the industries affected.
Industrial conflict (strike) also has political implications to the state and government labour relations. This is because it could arouse political agitations on ordinary citizens due to strikes in strategic or essential sector of the economy, such as the nationwide strike embarked upon to force Abacha’s regime to de-annul the June 12, 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
Moreso, industrial conflict (strike) could largely fuel cost-push and excess liquidity, inflation in the national economy as a result of workers winning. Large wage countries are not likely to attract foreign investment from individual foreign industrialist, thereby constituting a barrier, blocking the achievement of state development objectives.
Industrial conflict (strike) also affects the employers/management through loss of productivity, loss of output inability to meet customers’ demands, inability to supply customers’ orders on schedule, loss of profits, etc.
Other losses include the loss of contract years as client avoid a company likely to face a strike action.
This study seeks to investigate the effect of industrial conflict on national development in Nigeria with a view to proffering the, way forward for industrial harmony and development in Nigeria.
1.3 Objective Of The Study
The objectives of this study are to examine the concepts of industrial conflict vis-a-vis National development. The objectives therefore include the following:
- To identify the effects of industrial conflict in its diverse forms on the employers of labour and their employees.
- To identify the impact of industrial conflict on national development.
- To identify sources of industrial conflict (external and Internal) in industrial relations.
- To identify the various forms of conflict resolution such as IAP, NIC, Conciliation and mediation, etc.
- To proffer solutions to industrial conflict in Nigeria
1.4 Relevance Of The Study
In a country like Nigeria where economic, social and political environment are occurrences of conflict in industries can never be ruled out. That there are no open or overt demonstration of grievances (strikes and lockouts) does not rule out the existence of other forms of conflict expressions.
A study of this nature is of high importance, more so no that the Nigeria, industrial relations system is experiencing and increase in such overt manifestations.
As indicated earlier, the year 1994 records strike involving NUPENG, PENGASAN, factors of Nigeria Labour Congress, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Volatile politically motivated public demonstrations.
Directly or indirectly, there have been untold implications on the development of the nation and a research on it is timely.
Man-hour loss due to the various manifestations of conflicts has had tremendous negative effects on productivity as regards quantity and quality of outputs.
The extent to which industrial conflicts affects productivity, hence the level of national development. This forms the bedrock of this research.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
This project is specifically set to empirically set to test empirically, the hypothesis that “industrial conflict affects corporate productivity and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hence retarding national development.
1.6 Research Questions
The research shall deem it fit to answer the following questions, in order to satisfy the objectives of the study.
- What is industrial conflict and national development?
- What are the causes of industrial conflict?
- Is there any linkage between industrial conflict and national development?
- What are the structural reforms put in place to reduce industrial conflict in Nigeria?
- What are the basic strategies for measuring industrial conflict?
- What are the determinants of workers attainment or intergenerational income mobility.
- What are structural implications of industrial conflict on National development?
1.7 Limitation Of The Study
In carrying out this study there were a number of obstacles faced, which affected the comprehensiveness of the study.
The obstacle faced in carrying out this study includes:
- Reluctance of the personnel of private establishments in giving information.
- Inability of obtaining current information from government agencies.
- Time constraint is also a contributing factor
- Difficulty in getting relevant textbooks, seminar papers, journals, and so on.
- Financial constraints.
The researcher inspite of these tried her very best to make this study a comprehensive one by going extra length.
1.8 Operational Terms
The operational terms of the research relates to the extent to which it would wing its arms and the study shall consider the flow of government expenditure on labour force and Per capita Gross Domestic Product (PGDP), revolving round the sphere of Nigeria economy between 1987 to 2007. Thus, efforts shall be made to enunciate and amplify upon the work of other researchers that had mentioned much on industrial conflict and national development over the years.
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