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THE ROLES OF TRADE UNION IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AN ORGANISATION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The existence of conflict in Nigeria industrial organisation can no longer be treated with disdain, neither can students suppress it.
This project is concerned with understanding the role and practices of industrial relation inNigeriaand how it promotes industrial harmony by emphasizing on the roles and effectiveness of the labour union executive in resolving industries conflicts.
This project shall rise to the challenge by stressing the role of the union executives by focusing on the questions of leadership quality, trade union education and experience, effective communication and management principles, the issue of financial rewards vis-à-vis the relationship between the executives and its members on one side and the employers (management) and employee (workers or union).
By the very nature of its formation and existence industrial organisation are perceived to have in its bowel, divergent and discordant interest, thus, making conflict within it inevitable, as it is also endemic in all human organisation.
Fajana (2005) cited by Joyce (2011) defined industrial conflict as the inability of these parties either between employers and employees or within their group to reach agreement on any issue connected with the object of employers and employees interaction, whether or not this inability results in strikes or lockout or other forms of protestation.
Thus, Edwin (1980) has argued convincingly that conflict perse is neither bad no contrary to good organisation but stressed that disagreement and the ensuring discussion can lead and mislead to a re-examination of basic assumptions and practices to the end that adjustment can be made to improve overall organisation effectiveness. In other words it is our intention in this project to embark on a thorough research analysis to conflict and conflict resolution within the context of an industrial work place through a case study of the roles of union leadership in industrial organisation emerged essentially out of the dual purposes in the “mutual expectations, of task accomplishment (organisation objectives) and membership though conflict has being so perceived in all industrial organisation but opinions differ as to causes and usefulness.
In view of the above, conflict springs up. Industrial conflict also refer to as trade union, therefore is defined as “any disagreement or dispute between workers and workers or between workers and employers regarding the condition of employments of workers and the general conditions relating to their employment “ industrial conflict can be formal or informal.
Informal conflict in an industrial organisation is usually associated with low skilled and purely educated workmen and such conflicts are generally unorganized, exhibited in individual actions such as absenteeism, sabotage, theft etc. Formal conflict on the other hand is associated with high skilled and well educated workers who are properly organized and such formal conflict is usually spearheaded by union leaders who are referred to as “agitators”.
It is above this background that the researcher thinks that attention should now be diverted and focused on trader union leadership if it is believed of this researcher that an enlightened, educated experienced, and responsible union executives has a lot to contribute in bridging the gap between the employers (management) and the employees (union members/worker) this creating the necessary conditions force a stable and harmonious industrial relations.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The Nigeria economic scene, has in recent years witnessed an increasing rise in industrial disputes and labour militancy which has been expressed in incessant strikes, lockouts, riots, work to rule dismissals expensive and length legal tussles and court actions etc between the management and the workers, sometimes between the unions and the government.
The situation is such that hardly a month passes in this country without one form of conflict or another between the various interest groups.
In 2019, the spate of industrial conflict resulting in major strikers, riot, work to rule etc cut across all spheres of the economic and political spectrum, from the public institution to the private sector, from the manufacturing industries to the oil companies. The case of the Academic and Non Academic Staff Union of the Nigeria Universities quickly comes to mind the disputes which become very protracted and political leading to a near collapse of the university and indeed the educational system as the universities remained close down for more than four months of the year.
We can also recall the cases of Messrs Wilbros Nigeria Limited an America Oil Serving Company and Horizon Fibers Nigeria Limited a Singaporean textile manufacturing firm to mention a few both located within the vicinity or the University of Port Harcourt at Choba, Rivers State, which in 1993 come close to folding up their operation due to work stoppage reasons which ranged from internal increases improved working conditions, fringe benefits an external influences over management function and union matter and activities.
These conflict though largely attributed to struggle over scare economic resources will on closer examination be found to have linkages with what I perceive as ‘union inadequacies’ concerning the strategic importance, role and effectiveness of labour unions, particularly the ‘union executives’ in the resolution of conflict within industrial and work organizations.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to determine the role of trade unionism in the resolution of industrial conflicts. Specifically the study will be;
- To find out the relationship between the executives and its members on one side and the employers (management) and the employee (worker/union).
- Examine how they settle the disputes that come out within their organization or individual organization.
- Determine how they resolve the conflict that arises within their industrial sector (organization)
- To find out the resolution to reduce industrial conflict.
1.4 REASEARCH QUESTION
In order to go about the study, the following research questions were raised:
- What is the relationship that exists between most union executives?
- What is the relationship between management and union members?
- How are industrial disputes settled within an organization?
- What could be done to reduce industrial conflict?
- What are the roles of the labour/union leaders in the settlement of industrial disputes and the roles of management in the settlement of industrial disputes?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The importance of this study lies in the fact that the issues bothering or militating against the effectiveness of trade union executives in the resolution of industrial conflicts. A study of how to enhance the performance and effectiveness of trade union leaders so that better means of communication between union and members labour and management will be established to minimize industrial conflict, where are counter productive to employees and organizational goals.
This study will therefore give us an orderly procedure for training, educating and improving the communication of trade union leaders to greater effectiveness in the resolution of industrial conflict in business organizations. It will provide us with information we need to develop the talents within trade union executives to march the present day sophisticated labour environment.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project covers a wide variety of industrial organizations both public and private organization such as banks, manufacturing industries, tertiary institutions (Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education etc) in Delta State.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study has the following limitations
- It is restricted to only track union leaders in selected organizations which in essence means that the study did not represent the board spectrum of the generality of Nigeria workers rather it beamed its research light on a segment of Nigeria workers.
- The study was restricted to only selected firms in the country, it would have been desirable to cover more of at least most of the organizations to ensure adequate representation and also to have a high degree of significance of the findings so as to provide a clear picture of the study.
- The most important constraints were time and finance which are both limited to carry on a research of this nature as both were of great importance in endeavors of this nature.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
In order to see through our conceptual lens effectively, we shall attempt to concisely operationalize the key concepts and terms used in this study.
v Industrial conflict: This refers to the situation of the interest of the major group in industry.
v Conflict management/resolutions: Here is used to represent the various steps and options which the management of an industry and the executive of the workers union decides to take in settling a conflict situation.
v Industrial relations: This refers to the basic principles and practice of ensuring a peaceful co-existence and harmonious interaction amongst the major interest group in industries between all the management and workers.
v Trade/labour union: This shall be defined in terms of what people perceived as the existing condition of employment and contextually as an association of worker form to promote, protect and improve through collective action, the social economic and political interest or members