This study is motivated by the unseemly
variety of problems faced by an average Nigerian worker and the
fundamental question as the level and quality of Trade Union
organization their defined ideologies and the motives of these unions
towards their members are examined.
The objective of this study is to seek
ways to correct these varieties of problems and to ensure that Trade
Union has enough impact positively on workers. Two research questions
were raised for the study while two research hypotheses were also
formulated. The survey research design was adopted for the study.
The questionnaire was the main
instrument used for the data collection. The data collected was
subjected to simple validity and reliability test and chi-square
technique was used to test the level of significance. Some of the
findings are that the level of positive impact on workers welfare
depends on the level of unity and maturity amongst the union leaders in
charge and also that minimizing unnecessary strike actions by union will
bring about high rate of productivity to the organization thereby
affecting workers welfare.
Based on the findings, recommendations
such as cordial system of dialogue between union and management should
be adopted in a case of misunderstanding.
Also that union member's welfare should
not be mortgaged in any way and there should be improved communication
between union and management and also union and members.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Certification - - - - - - - - ii
Dedication - - - - - - - - iii
Acknowledgement - - - - - - - iv
Abstract - - - - - - - - v
Table of content- - - - - - - - vi
List of tables - - - - - - - viii
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Objectives of the study
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Research hypothesis
1.6 Significance of study
1.7 Scope or delimitation of the study
1.8 Limitation of study
1.9 Definition of terms
2.2 Industrial Relations in the United States of America
2.3 Philosophical and Constitutional Foundations
2.4 Industrial Relations in the United States of America
3.2 Research design
3.3 Population of study
3.4 Sampling size
3.5 Sampling technique
3.6 Research instrument
3.7 Validity of Reliability of instrument
3.8 Method analysis
3.9 Source of data
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
4.2 Hypothesis Testing
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The term trade union has a variety of
meanings depending on the perception of workers and the definition
imposed by the legal frameworks in many countries.
Some workers organizations call
themselves staff or professional associations, or senior staff
associations, but all these are valid examples of trade unions.
Furthermore, trade union laws in the. UK and Nigeria defines a trade
"Any combination whether temporary or
permanent, the principal objectives of which under it's constitution
are.......... the regulation of the relationship between workmen or
between masters and masters, or the imposing of restrictive conditions
on the conduct of any trade or business and also the provision of
benefits to members".
An alternative definition of the term
Trade Union is "...an association of wage/salary earners formed with the
objective of safeguarding and improving the wage and employment
conditions of it's members and to raise members social status and
standard of living in the community.
The above definition emphasizes the sale
and purchase of labour power as a factor of production. The emphasis on
the terms, conditions of service is perhaps the factor that
distinguishes trade union from social clubs and other political
For although all these social groups may
show interest in workers' welfare but only the trade union is accorded
the legal recognition to negotiate terms and conditions of work on
behalf of it's members.
However, the law governing the trade
union formation and organization is the Trade Union Acts 1973 and the
Trade Union Amendment Act (Decree 22) of 1978 and the Amendment Act of
1979. The law., were further amended in 1990 and 1996. The Trade Unions
Act Cap 437 LFN, 1990 which makes provisions with respect to the
formation and general organization of trade unions. In 1996 Trade Unions
(amendment) Decree 4 of 1996 restructured affiliates of the Nigerian
Labour Congress to 29 Decree 22 restructured Trade Unions primarily
along industrial line.
For it to be recognized as a trade union it has to be registered which entails to:
1. Get an application form from the registrar of Trade Union.
2. Fill the form and return with the
signature of at least 50 members for workers and at least 2 members in
the case of employers.
3. Every registration requires the approval of the Minister of Employment Labour and Productivity.
4. Issuance of certificate of registration under the present law, 3 types of unions are recognized.
(i) Those belonging to junior workers.
(ii) Those belonging to senior workers
(iii) Those belonging to employers.
Union was formally organized in the
public sector in 1912. It was the Civil Service Union (CSU) formed
possibly because it was the vogue of the African Countries. In 1931, two
other unions were formed: The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and The
Railway Workers Union (RWU). The RWU was part of the CSU until it broke
off because of dissatisfactical with the tempo with which the CSU was
pursuing industrial relations activities. But the position of the CSU
could be better understood if we consider the cultural environment at
the time. Workers looked upon the colonial employer (largely government)
as a kind of father figure. Such arbitrary paternalism connotes that
the employer was revered over much with a lot of loyalty and this partly
explain the slow tempo of industrial activates by the union of
government workers. Besides, by definition, the civil service is
supposed to be an institution of the state just like the judiciary,
police or army. Clearly, it may amount to contradiction for the state to
unionize against itself. This sort of sovereignty-induced arguments
could have been used to brainwash civil servants and to discourage them
from militant unionism. At any rate, the RWU broke off from the CSU.
Similarly, the NUT want a better forum
where they could maintain good professionalism and forge a good standard
of education in Nigeria. The NUT was also dissatisfied with the wide
differential that existed in the wages of government teachers and their
mission school counterparts, formal organization of workers into unions
dated back to 1912. Yet no significant development in industrial
relations took place until the late t930's.
In 1938, the absence of legal backing
for Nigeria Labour Unions was removed when the colonial administration
passed the trade union ordinance into law and this facilitated the
formation of new ones.
Specifically, the law allowed any group
of five or more workers to form a trade union. Most of the unions that
emerged were centered around one employer or one enterprise and
comprised of few members indeed. The result was of course the growth of
large number of ineffective trade unions, which continued until the
Other factor perhaps played equally important part in charting the nurse of development in Nigeria Trade Union movement.
These factors are the 1939-45 world war,
and the emerging nationalist movement. The war brought serious hardship
both to workers and the general public in the form of acute shortages
of essential commodities with the corresponding, rise in prices and
stagnant money wage (Otobo, 1987). So when rationing was introduced in
Lagos, workers joined trade unions in large number.
The central trade union the country is
the NLC (Nigeria Labour Con tress) Trade Unions to a large extent, has
played a significant role in transformation witnessed in the condition
of workers over time.
NIGERIA TRADE UNIONS
The central trade union in the country
is the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), which was formed in 1975 as the
umbrella trade union and recognized by Decree Number 44 of 1976 as the
sole representative of all trade unions in the country. The NLC has a
national executive and secretariat, as well as state councils in all
states. It had more then 100 affiliated unions. Although most labour
matters were channeled through the NLC, the affiliate unions had engaged
individually in union activities, such as strikes and lockouts. In the
1980s, the NLC was torn apart by leadership struggles, ideological
differences, and ethno-regional conflict. The NLC nearly broke up in
1988 after disagreements over election: of its leadership, resulting in
the federal government's appointing an administrator for several months.
The NLC organized a nationwide workers' strike in 1986 to demand the
retention of government subsidies on petroleum products and continued to
articulate workersdemands on matters such as minimum wages and
improved welfare conditions. Several other trade unions were also
active. A few, such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, were
proscribed for alleged antigovernment activities.
In Nigeria, trade unions have become
important agent of socio-economic transformation and class struggle
(Aremu, 1996; Akinyanju 1997). The role began from the period of the
colonial struggle and continued tall the post independence era. In the
later period, trade unions played an important role in the struggle
against dictatorial military rule and the restoration of civil rule in
the country more importantly during the civilian era, trade unions were
in the forefront in the struggle against unpopular government policies
• Retrenchment of workers and
• Refusal to honour agreement on wage increase
The present discussion seeks to provide a
critical assessment of the impact of Trade Union on workers welfare in
particular and on their overall emancipation in general.
TRADE UNIONISM UNDER MILITARY RULE
Nigeria's history is bereft with
contrasting political climate. Since independence in 1960, the country
has been under military dictatorship for twenty-nine year while
democratic .rule span for the remaining seventeen years. The long years
of military rule has had its impact on the nation's trade unionism and
workers struggle in the country. Therefore, military regime though an
aberration, has nevertheless featured prominently in Nigeria's political
history. In view of the dictatorial tendency of such military
administration, trade unions have a Herculean task in responding to
policies and unpopular programmes of such regimes. The: first challenge
posed to trade unions is with regards to how they can mobilize the
members to agitate against unpopular and repressive programmes of
military administration. Examples abound of instances of how trade
unions successfully mobilized workers for action meant to achieve their
emancipation and improvement in the general condition of members.
Trade union movement in Nigeria attained
its highest crescendo of activities during military dictatorship. While
trade union activities were heightened under previous military regimes
of General Gowon (1967-1975) General Muritala/Obasanjo (1976-1979)
General Buhari/Idiagbon 1984/1986), General Babangida (1986-1993), it
was during General Abacha's regime (1993-1998) that witnessed active
involvement of trade unions in the struggle both for the improvement in
the living standard of members and restoration of democratic rule. For
example, in 1992, then was widespread discontent in the country in
which citizens were hay sassed, repressed and hungry (Akinyanju, 1997).
Wages were generally low. However, the leadership of the central labour
organization (NLC were collaborators of the military junta, hence could
not monster any res stance against the military government. It was
against this background that the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria
Universities (ASUU) embarked on a nationwide strike in 1992 to advance
the improvement of the working condition of its members. The high level
of poverty among members fostered unity of purpose among members. The
strike was largely successful in terms of total participation of members
and the Military government was forced to negotiate with the union.
The experience of the struggle towards
revalidation of true annulled June 12 1993 presidential election is
another instance of workers struggle during military era. The struggle
was spear-headed by workers union in the oil sector, namely, National
Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Gas
Workers Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN). While the strike was
effective with regards to full participation of a large number of
members, it nevertheless failed to achieve its goal of de-annulling the
election. However, the strike further strengthened the unions and made
members conscious that the could achieve a lot by remaining steadfast
with their unions.
Again, during Gen. Babangida's regime
(1986-1993) trade unions were able to mobilize their members to protest
against the negative effects of the Structural Adjustment Programme of
the government. The protest led to the introduction of some relief
measures meant to caution the effect of economic policy on the citizens.
Obasi (1986) has observed that SAP has led to economic privation of
workers thereby heightening their consciousness which in turn leads to
increasing militancy on their part. Such actions on the part of workers
through their unions have forced government to adopt some relief
measures especially in the areas of wages and salaries increment.
Trade unions also performed the role of
sensitizing its members and the general public against government
repressive programmes such as increment in petroleum price. Past
experiences have shown that on each occasion that government desires to
effect change in fuel price, trade unions have played significant role
in mobilizing its members arid the general public on the need to resist
From the preceding discussion, one could
observe that the activity of trade union movement in Nigeria was
heightened during military rule. The dictatorial climate provided by
military regimes has the effect of pushing trade unions towards
increasing militancy. Such undemocratic government could not tolerate
active unionism and hence had to resort to intimidation, repression
through arrest of union leaders and outright ban of radical unions.
These actions in return further fuelled radicalism on the part of the
TRADE UNIONISM UNDER DEMOCRATIC RULE
Democratic government in contrast to
military provides quite a different political environment for trade
unionism. Under colonial rule, government did not grant recognition to
trade union until 1931 with the enactment of Trade union Ordinance. The
colonial state relented the radical posture of trade unions. Moreso,
since the unions collaborated with nationalists for independence
struggle and therefore made concerted efforts to weaken the unions by
harassing the leadership and divide the rank and along ethnic line
(Ochefu, 1996). These repressions were heightened after the general
strike of 1945 which marked a water-shed in the anti-colonial struggle
in Nigeria. The successful collaboration between nationalises and labour
leaders during the strike led to the forging of link between the two
groups and the radically transform the nature and of nationalist
struggle for independence.
According to Ochefu (1996) labour's
venture into anti-colonial polities was borne out of the conviction that
the colonial state as an agency of capital had to be removed if labour
was to get a fair share of the contribution for production of goods and
services. Similarly, its alliance with petty bourgeois elements like Dr.
Nnamdi Azikwe and the NCNC way also informed by the concrete reality
that labour could not do it alone.
Ochefu (1996) further argued that the
colonial administration found it necessary to prevent the unity of
forces between the nationalists and labour unions because such unity
constituted a greater threat to the colonial government. The colonial
government reaction was in forms of intimidation, detention of union
officials while preventing the formation of a central labour
organization. They also fuelled sub-national settlements within the
ranks of labour and as well promoted ideological schism with segment of
the leadership. The actions led to fractionalization within the labour
unions which served to limit the effectiveness of the unions.
Cambridge (1989) and Rodney (1979) have
observed that union i,2aders played a very significant role during the
anti-colonial struggle and that though nationalist leaders may or may
not emerge from the leadership of workers organizations, however, all
nationalists' leaders sought and developed alliances with workers
organizations in order to destabilize the colonial administration. This
alliance made it possible for effective mobilization of workers for
strikes aimed at seeking political goal.
Ironically, though the succeeding post
colonial administration inherited the fear, suspicions are hatred for
labour from its predecessor. Trade union activities were regarded by
government as destabilizing to the interest of the state. Hence, right
from the First Republic (1960-1966) the posture of government has been
to regard trade unionism with suspicion, and therefore took various
measures to recapitulate the unions. This deliberate action of the
Nigeria government has resulted into state intervention in trade union
movement in what is regarded as the principle of "guided democracy"
A significant instance of trade union
activities towards enhancement of workers welfare under democratic rule
was in 1981 under the regime of Alhaji Sheu Shagari when trade unions
successfully mobilize their members for general strike which forced the
government to increase the monthly minimum wage to one hundred and
twenty five naira (N125.00k). The prevailing democratic atmosphere
during this period enabled the unions to pursue its goal of improving
the working lives of members though struggle for wage increase.
During the current political
dispensation, trade unions have had cause to mobilize members to embark
on concerted actions aimed at resisting unpopular government programmes.
For instance, since 1999, when democratic rule was restored in the
country, the Federal Government has severally increased the pump price
of petroleum products. On each if these instances, the control labour
congress had to mobiles the workers for strike against the policy.
However, this did not go well with the government which responded by
enacting what is now popularly known as anti-Labour Legislation - the
labour bill of 2005. The law among other things seeks to decentralize
the labour union in the country. Critics of the Bill have argued that
the measure is meant to weaken the power of the Nigerian Labour Congress
which has successfully mobilized the Nigerian workers for strike
against the Federal government.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Analyzing the Nigerian Trade Union so
far, the researcher has been able to point to the fact that over the
years, trade unions in Nigeria have evolved from informal to highly
formal bureaucratic organizations. In the process, an unstable, yet
unique system of industrial relations seems to have emerged in Nigeria.
However, inspite of the apparent
militancy and power of the unions, very little is known about the
internal dynamics of the unions. The closest attempt (Owarieta 1997)
merely addressed the general factors that lead to industrial conflicts
Thus, such fundamental questions as the
level and quality of trade union organization, their defining ideologies
and the motives of the union 1 Waders are not examined. As Hartman
(1978:70) has argued. Some environmental constrains also contributes and
impinge on industrial relations in Nigeria. They are:
l. The tendency of labour disputes
to become destructive, and the state to deploy coercive measures in it's
control. Citing an ex ample with the Nigeria oil industry which can be
said to be acknowledged as the most strategic and this is perhaps why it
has experienced a lot of bitter industrial disputes.
After the annulment of the June 12 1993
presidential election by the military dictatorship, the unions in the
oil industry embarked upon one of the longest and most consequential
strikes in the nation's industrial history. The strike ended up with the
arrest and detention of the leaders of the two workers' unions in the
industry (National Union of Petroleum, Energy and Gas) NUPENG and
(Petroleum, Energy and Gas senior staff Association of Nigeria)
PENGASS-'%,N as well as the proscription of the unions, the branch
unions continued to embark on both official and wildcat strike action.
The frequency and success with which the strike actions were prosecuted
have led to the impression that the trade unions in the oil industry
have become too militant and powerful for management End employers in
the industry and the Nigerian government as a whole (Owarieta, 1997).
2. Inability of the trade union
leaders for a long time to conduct -Trade Union matters with deserved
maturity. Also, unions are increasingly being run by full-time
officials. These officials get paid more, than workers and see the union
as "just another job".
At times, some of these leaders become
conservative on some issues that need a deserved approach, they'll
rather spend their- time negotiating and sometimes they even make
undemocratic decisions. Some even oppose socialism. The NLC was torn
apart by leadership struggles, ideological differences and
ethno-regional conflict. It was affect in 1988 after disagreements over
election of its leadership resulting in the federal government's
appointing an administrator for several months.
3. The dominance of the employers'
lobby by multinationals to determine with the states' support, the
direction and size c;; pay, perquisites and employment conditions.
4. The undue role of the various states as explained by the need to control labour for development efforts.
5. The inconsistencies of the state
as socio-economic policies are jettisoned midstream and others are
adopted in their places.
6. The difficulty of separating pure labour from political disturbances.
7. The paternalistic value of the
workers that put elaborate respect on elders rather than on authorities
and thus the reliance on informal machinery like elders; religious
ministers and state governs -s for settling disputes.
These features are expected to continue because industrialization is yet to be carried to a satisfactory level.
8. Some of the trade unions still
continue their seeming misunderstanding of their roles in the
development process structure of ownership of industry has not changed.
The political system has not matured to the extent that instability and
thence inconsistencies of government policies can be forestalled. The
state has so much motivation to continue it's intervention in the trade