industrial conflicts in tertiary institutions: issues, challenges and management (the case of college of education ekiadolor benin)

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This study focuses on industrial conflicts in tertiary institutions with particular reference to the College of Education, Ekiadolor Benin. It examined the issues, challenges and management of industrial conflicts. It was discovered that conflict is a universal concept which is prevalent in all human societies and organizations. It is seen by most people in the negative angle, as a concept occasioning disruptions in work schedule and bringing about losses when handled with levity.

        However, when properly managed, it produces positive result. The college of Education, Ekiadolor Benin which is the main focus of this study, has been beset with many bout of industrial conflict all through the period of this project. The issues involved include; delays in payment of salaries, management`s meddling with staff union matters, poor implementation of staff welfare needs among others. Poor funding by government and overcrowded curriculum were the main challenges faced by the leadership of the institution.        Industrial conflicts lead to unduly prolonged academic calendar and brought about higher expenditure profile on both student and management. Dialogue with union leaders by management and third party involvement in dispute resolution, are some of the tactics used to tackle the industrial conflicts.

        In the course of his study, several theories where examined. The System Theory was adopted as the basis of explaining industrial conflict in tertiary institutions with particular reference to College of Education Ekiadolor Benin. Questionnaires were designed to elicit the desire responses. The responses were analyzed using simple percentage.

        In conclusion, it was evident that industrial conflicts cannot be completely eradicated in organizations but can be reduced to the barest minimum with tactful, proactive and diligent management of manpower and resources.



1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the study

1.2 Statement of the problem

1.3 Research question

1.4 Objectives of the study

1.5 Hypotheses

1.6 Significance of the study

1.8 Scope of the study

1.9 Limitations of the study

1.10 Methodology

1.11Definition of Terms


2.1 Review of Related Literature

2.2Meaning of Industrial Conflicts

2.3 Stages and Models of Conflict

2.4 Models of Conflicts

2.5 Types of Industrial Conflicts

2.6 Theories of Labour Conflict

2.7 Causes of Industrial Conflicts

2.8 Sources of Industrial Conflicts

2.9 Resolution of Industrial Conflicts

2.10 Collective Bargaining

2.11 Functions of Collective Bargaining

2.12 Forms of Industrial Action

2.13 Historical Development of Labour movements in Nigeria

2.14 Objectives and Function of Trade Unions

2.15 Government Intervention in the Labour Movement

2.16 Effects of Industrial Conflicts in Nigeria

2.17 Appraisal of the Conflict Management Technique/Collective

Bargaining technique

2.18 Summary of Literature Review


3.0 Research Design and Methodology

3.1 Research Design

3.2 Area of study

3.3 Population of the study

3.4 Sample and sampling techniques

3.5 Sources of Data

3.6 Instrument for Data collection

3.7 Methods of Data Collection

3.8 Methods of Data Analysis


4.0 Data Presentation and Analysis

4.1 Test of Hypotheses


5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary of findings

5.2 Conclusion

5.3 Recommendation




Table 3.1 Population of the study

Table 3.2: Distribution of Sample Size

Table 3.3: Instrument Distributed and Returned

Table 4.1: Questionnaire Distribution and Collection

Table 4.2: Sex Distribution Table

Table 4.3: Marital Status Table

Table 4.4: Age Distribution Table

Table 4.5: Percentage Distribution of Highest Educational Qualification

Table 4.6: Length of Service

Table 4 7: Causes of Labour Management Conflicts

Table 4.8: Management Reactions to Labour Demands

Table 4.9: Management Consultation with Labour

Table 4.10: Level of Satisfaction with the facilities in the office

Table 4.13: Resolution of Conflicts

Table 4.15: Maintenance of Industrial Peace

Table 4.16: Channel of Workers demand across to management

Table 4.17: Avenue for Improving Industrial Peace

Table 4.18: Participation of third party in conflicts resolution

Table 4.19: The Outcome of party intervention in conflict resolution

Table 4.20: The best way to handle labour-management

conflicts in the institution.

Table 4.21: Description of Labour-management relationship

Table 4.22: Experience of Industrial Conflicts

Table 4.23: Whether the conflicts occurred during the study period

Table 4.24: Ways conflicts affect the workers/employees

Table 4.25: Likely affects of unresolved conflicts on the institution

Table 4.26: The ultimate losers when conflicts result into a strike




Conflict is generally regarded as a disagreement emanating from interests or ideas (Esquivel & Kleiner 2007: 2). Organizational conflict is the discord that occurs when the goals, interests or values of different individuals or groups are incompatible and those individuals or groups block or tend to frustrate each other’s attempt to achieve their objectives. These actions and reactions make conflict an inevitable part of organizational life since the goals of different stakeholders such as managers and staff are often incompatible (Jones et al 2000: 7).

An organization can achieve its objectives only if its members cooperate and coordinate their efforts toward a common goal. For this to occur, everyone must subordinate a degree of individual and personal freedom to that of the organization. Such behaviour is not achieved, however without a struggle and therefore the possibility of conflict  and conflict situations.  Life generally is full of conflict. Conflict cannot be ruled out in people’s life. Conflicts are found in families, organizations, nations, market places and even along the streets.

Conflict is widely seen as one of the persistent problems in organizational life. The fact of its centrality is indicated by the fact that even in organizations where it appears to have been eliminated like Japanese firms and ‘high tech’ companies, there still exists high level of work pressure and a tendency for conflict and tensions to be internalized within employees, rather than being expressed as open disputes between management/leadership and the worker (Eze, 1997). Thus, people who claim that conflict can be eliminated misunderstand how organizations work.

A conflict arises within an organization when one or more of its members (individuals, groups or network of groups) covertly or overtly oppose another member or group. Their goals, desires and interests are not only unharmonious; they may also be incompatible (Akpala, 1990).

Industrial conflict in Nigerian tertiary institutions are not peculiar to College of Education Ekiadolor, but such equally bedevil the management and administrative set up of other tertiary institutions in Nigeria. These problems were experienced at the University of Benin between the management and students during the 2009-2010 academic session over absence of water and electricity in the campus for about a week duration. Also the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma had a showdown with the authorities over increase in school fees in 2011-2012 academic sessions.

Staff of College of Education, Igueben disrupted academic activities in 2013 over the use of their cooperative money to pay salaries. It is therefore true to ascertain that conflict in tertiary institutions is a common phenomenon which will either make or mar such institution depending on how it is managed.


Tertiary institutions are formal organizations with special goals of channeling and shaping the destiny of mankind. Through teaching, research and public service, 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 cooperative action between management and staff (Onah, 2005). Some shared and opposed interests are found when workers and management work together. Those shared enhance industrial harmony and peace, while those opposed, generate industrial conflict (Crouch, 1977). Differences between workers 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 Umezuruike, 2004). The failure in management is attributable to poor management of industrial conflicts within the organization. We are in ever-changing economic, technological, social and political era in which conflict has become inevitable in a dynamic organization.

Change and economic growth bring opportunity but they also bring risk particularly in an era of worldwide rivalry for market resources and influence.

In College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin, the causes of industrial conflict are as a result of non-payment of salaries and fringe benefits as and when due, strikes, lay-offs, denial of promotion, dispute settlement procedures and so on. It is therefore the task of management and labour to minimize risk involved in conflicts while taking advantage of the opportunities they provide.

In the College of Education Ekiadolor, it was discovered during the pilot study that some of the problems of industrial conflicts, which were discussed verbally with the staff of the institution were as follows:

* Poor funding which leads to non-payment of salaries and fringe benefits as and when due

* Inadequate infrastructure

* Retirement benefit issues

* Management interference in staff union matters through divide and rule tactics

* Failure to implement some federal government circulars e.g. circular on retirement age.


The central questions that will therefore form the basis of this study are:

  1. What are the immediate causes of poor management approach on industrial conflict between the workers (labour) and management (organization) in College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin?
  2. How were the conflicts managed by the labour on one hand and the management on the other hand?

3. To what extent has the management of these conflicts affected the morale of workers needed in enhancing their performances?

Attempts to provide answers to these questions and suggest measures for possible solutions for any future conflicts constitute the basic research questions of the study.


The general objective of this study is to find out how industrial conflicts are managed in Nigerian tertiary institutions with emphasis on College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin. The definite objectives of the study therefore, are:

  1. to examine the causes of industrial conflict between the workers and management in the College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin.
  2. to appraise the management of conflict as it affects the morale of workers.
  3. to investigate how conflicts are managed between the two bodies i.e. labour

and management;

  1. to determine other issues involved in industrial conflict in College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin;
  2. to suggest remedies to the problems emanating from the research findings and make appropriate recommendations.


This research work was directed toward testing of the following hypotheses. Therefore, the following hypotheses  were formulated to guide the study;

Hypothesis I

Ho: The management of labour conflicts in the College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin is not as a result of the management’s refusal to meet up with the workers welfare needs.

Hi: The management of labour conflicts in the College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin is as a result of the management’s refusal to meet up with the workers welfare needs.


Hypothesis II

Ho: The labour leaders and top management’s handling of the labour/management conflicts does not reduce conflicts.

Hi: The labour leaders and top management’s handling of the labour/management

conflicts reduces conflicts.

Hypothesis III

Ho: Improper management of conflicts does not result to low morale of the workers.

Hi: Improper management of conflicts results to low morale of the workers.

Hypothesis IV

Ho: Inadequate funding will not lead to conflict between labour and management.

Hi: Inadequate funding will lead to conflict between labour and management.


With the rising wave of industrial conflicts in the country in recent times and its attendant negative effects, an in-depth study of the problems becomes necessary. It is therefore hoped that the results of the study will have the potentiality of redirecting management’s attention to some of its rigid features with a view to correcting some of its inherent deficiencies in them, which contributed to and constituted the labour/management conflicts in the study area.

The evaluation of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in relation to its employers will in essence be useful, as it will reveal areas of weaknesses that should be improved as well as areas of power or strength that should be encouraged for effective and efficient management of an impending danger that may result to conflicts in the areas of work. The findings and recommendations of the study will also be significant as they will contribute and generate further research interest in the areas of labour/management conflicts and conflict as a whole.

Finally, an effective research into this area of work and consequent prescriptions for the problems that may be made in the research findings will not only improve the proper handling of industrial conflicts in College of Education Ekiadolor but will act as a blueprint for the whole federation and will also help to reduce the numerous problems which create the gap between labour and the management in carrying out their responsibilities. It will also stimulate further researches into conflict and its management not only in tertiary institutions but also in other government and non-governmental organizations.


The study focuses on the management of industrial conflicts in Nigerian tertiary institutions with particular reference to the College of Education Ekiadolor. To achieve this, the study looks at the background of the College, causes of conflicts, how conflicts were managed, and to determine the extent these conflicts have gone in shaping the economy and life of the workers within the institution. The research covers the public sector of the country. It is believed that the outcome of the finding will be applicable to similar institutions within the country.


The data collected from the various sources will be analyzed through the use of simple percentage.



The term organization implies three basic things as used in this work:

(a) A group of persons working together for a common purpose e.g. companies, schools and institutions.

(b) A network of relationships among individuals and activities. This implies the structural and strategic arrangement of persons, positions and roles

(c) A process of executive function aimed at ensuring that resources, activities and authority relationship are so coordinated to achieve specific goals

Industrial Conflict:

Industrial conflict is a disagreement between two or more members of an organization over means/manners of achieving certain goals within the establishment (Szilagyi, 1981). Industrial conflict can be described as the existence of not only grievances in the workplace, but also grievances that result to strikes, work stoppages, lockouts or any other labour actions that are unfavourable to the employer.


Grievance is a complaint against an organization that has been formulated and is handled through the systematic procedure of collective bargaining. Grievance may be grouped into two, namely: individual grievance and collective grievance. Grievances involving an individual are usually over his rights and what he thinks he is entitled to as an employee in his place of work. Collective grievances are concerned mainly with economic matters except in cases where individual grievances develop into collective grievances. The economic matters that cause collective grievances are those that relate to collective bargaining.

Morale: This refers to the level of confidence and positive feelings among staff.


Conflict or dispute is said to exist between two or more individuals or work groups; when they disagree or clash over significant issue(s). Although generally viewed in a negative light, conflict can be of some value to the enterprise. It provides opportunities for new leaders to emerge and for the enterprise to change its objectives in order to respond to changing environment. Franklin Roosevelt felt that conflict was necessary for effective policy making by appointing advisers who would clash and then assuming the role of an arbitrator in their disagreement, he was able to weed the bias out of the opinion they offered. Conflict is an essential aspect of social system and its component parts, and conflict can create room for a thorough analysis resulting to better decision.


In the course of this work, management will be looked at in two different perspectives.

(a). Management in terms of the work of a manager-planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and controlling the affairs of an organization. It includes the total system of an organization, which involves getting organizational personnel to accomplish their work so as to achieve the organizational goals.

(b). Management in terms of people who are placed in-charge of the affairs of others.


An employee or worker is “Any person who enters into a contract with another (the employer), to perform work under the control of the employer in return for wages or salaries or some other valuable considerations”.


A strike is defined in the Trade Dispute Act of 1976 as “a cessation of work by a body of persons employed, acting in combination or concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding on any member or person employed to continue to work for an employer in consequence of a dispute, done as a means of compelling their employer or any person or body of persons employed or to aid other workers accept or not to accept terms of employment and physical conditions of work”.

Trade Union:

Section 3 (8) of the Trade Union Act of 1973, defined trade union as

“Any combination of workers or employees whether temporary or permanent, the purpose of which is to regulate the terms and conditions of employment of workers, whether the combination in question would or would not apart from this act, be an unlawful combination by reason of any of its purposes being in restraint of trade and whether its purposes do or do not include the provision of benefits for its members”.


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