Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Collective Bargaining and Conflict Resolution in Nigeria's Public Sector

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Collective Bargaining and Conflict Resolution in Nigeria's Public Sector

Article excerpt

The general objective of this paper is to identify the link between collective bargaining and labour conflict resolution in Nigeria's public sector. Other objectives are to examine the nature of collective bargaining and conflict resolution mechanisms; and to ascertain the effectiveness of collective bargaining in solving the problems arising from labour conflicts in the public sector. It should be noted that industrial peace and working harmony are essential to the realisation of the goals and objectives of public sector organisations in Nigeria. The paper comprises: abstract; introduction; conceptual framework/literature review; discussion of findings; conclusion and recommendations. The paper observed that even though the history of collective bargaining in Nigeria is traceable to the public sector, the machinery has performed relatively poorly due to the uniqueness and employment practices of government as an employer of labour and its regulatory role. Predicated on the Dunlop/Flanders' industrial relations model and the survey research method as utilised in this study, it was also found that there is limited appreciation of the role of collective bargaining, and this hampers its efficacy in labour conflict resolution in Nigeria's public sector. This results from the narrow view of collective bargaining in approach and practice by managers of industrial relations in the public sector. The recommendations suggested can adequately invigorate the use of collective bargaining in labour conflict resolution in the public sector.

Key Words: Collective Bargaining, Conflict Resolution, Public Sector, Trade Union

The extent to which public sector organisations characterised by rigid bureaucratic structure and mechanistic management philosophies of the classical theorists could promote workers participation in management; particularly in consultation with the unions is subject to serious investigation. Attitudinal tendencies like this circumscribe the potency of collective bargaining as a platform for labour conflict resolution.

There are those who believe that poor workers' welfare and insensitivity on the part of employers or their management representatives offer some explanations for causes of conflicts in organisations. In this respect, it is posited that the wage structure in the Nigerian Public Sector and by extension the living conditions are low. Salaries/emoluments are not only poor, but payment can be quite irregular. When this is viewed against the backdrop of ostentatious living among political leaders/elites and managers of the Public Sector, conflict becomes inevitable especially in situation where the machineiy and process of collective bargaining is not given firm footing.

The widely held misconception that union-management interaction must be adversaiy and combative is anchored on the existence of dual interest groups (in organisations) with different goals and motivation. One group is represented by employers of labour or the management whose primaiy concern is profit maximization or service deliveiy at any and all costs. The second group is made up of workers-their goal is to achieve improved welfare and better working conditions. The achievement of these seeming disparate goals dictates attitudes and strategies that bring the interest groups on collision path and ultimately conflict. Collective bargaining then rises to this challenge.

Perfidy or deliberate refusal to honour collective agreements arrived at through the consensual process of collective bargaining are rife among employers/management representatives of some public sector organisations. When processes like these are jettisoned, an atmosphere of conflict which collective bargaining ought to neutralize festers.

The thrust of Dunlop/Flanders' model of industrial relations are: that industrial relations is an area of relations between workers' union; managers of organisations and government as regulator; these three actors develop a web of rules governing their relations in the workplace; the web of rules consists of procedural and substantive rules of relations; industrial relations is viewed as a subsystem within the larger system/society and it is the larger society that provides the external environment which influences industrial relations actors and institutions. …

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