A CASE FOR THE REVIEW OF TRADE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURE IN NIGERIA

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A CASE FOR THE REVIEW OF TRADE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURE IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

In Nigeria, in spite of the statutory mechanisms put in place to mitigate disputes, the phenomenon has been on the increase and on a consistent basis. The statutory dispute settlement procedure has not fostered industrial harmony to a large extent. Consequently, how to achieve effective settlement of trade disputes has, over the years, posed great challenges to industrial relations in Nigeria. The objective of this dissertation therefore is to appraise the effectiveness of trade disputes settlement mechanisms in Nigeria. The doctrinal method has been adopted for this research. Thus, the research analyzed materials derived from both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include statutes and judicial decisions while the secondary sources include books, journals, articles, newspapers and internet materials. The dissertation found among others that, the framework of substantive law established by the state for the resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria lack some critical components of trade disputes resolution. For instance, section 25 (1) and (2) of the Trade Unions Act granted recognition to registered trade for purpose of collective bargaining, but N1, 000 fine section provided for non-compliance is inadequate to serve as deterrence. Additionally, the law has not set up an independent an agency that would monitor whether or not the employers have really accorded recognition to employees for bargaining purposes. It is also found that the process of mediation and conciliation at the ADR Centre established in the NIC is likely to be unattractive for workers because of the overbearing influence and discretion exercise by the President of the NIC. Against this background therefore, the dissertation recommends that section 25 (2) of the Trade Union Act should be amended to allow the sanction for the refusal by employers to recognize trade union for bargaining purposes to be determined based on the financial strength of each organization. Furthermore, there is need for the Government to set up an independent agency like the ACAS and NLRB to monitor whether or not the employers in the country grant trade union due recognition for bargaining. Additionally, the NIC Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) Centre Instrument need to be amended to make the appointment of the Director of the Centre to be done subject to the confirmation of the senate and to provide a fixed Panel for the ADR Centre with its membership drawn from the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress. This way, workers would feel adequately represented.

 

 TABLE OF CONTENTS 
Cover Title ………………………………………………………………….i
Title Page……………………………………………………………………ii
Declaration…………………………………………………………………iii
Certification…………………………………………………………………iv
Dedication……………………………………………………………………v
Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………vi
List of Cases………………………………………………………………  .vii
List of Statutes………………………………………………………………ix
Abbreviations…………………………………………………………………x
Table of Contents………………………………………………………………xi
Abstract………………………………………………………………………….xiv
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION 
1,1 Background to the Study…………………………………………………1
1.2Statement of the problem…………………………………………………4
1.3Aim and Objectives of the research………………………………………6
1.4Justification of the research…………………………………………………6
1.5Research Methodology of the research……………………………………7
1.6Scope of the Research…………………………………………………….7
1.7Literature Review…………………………………………………………..8
1.8Organisational Layout……………………………………………………17
CHAPTER   TWO:   HISTORICAL   DEVELOPMENT   AND   CONCEPTUAL
DISCOURSE ON TRADE DISPUTES IN NIGERIA 
2.1Introduction……………………………………………………………….19

 

2.2 Meaning of Trade Dispute……………………………………………….19
2.3 Parties to a Trade Dispute………………………………………………22
2.3.1Worker……………………………………………………………………23
2.3.2Employer…………………………………………………………………25
2.4 Subject matter of Trade Dispute………………………………………….26
2.4.1Employment or Non-employment………………………………………26
2.4.2Terms of Employment…………………………………………………..27
2.4.3Condition of Work………………………………………………………..29
2.5 Historical Origin of Trade Dispute in Nigeria……………………………29
CHAPTER THREE: FORMS AND CAUSES OF LABOUR DISPUTE 
3.1 Introduction……………………………………………………………..…35
3.1.1 Strike and Lockout…………………………………………………… ..36
3.1.1.2 Restriction to the Right to Strike and Lockout in Nigeria……………40
3.1.2Pickets…………………………………………………………………47
3.2 Causes and Effects of Trade Disputes in Nigeria…………………….…51

 

CHAPTER FOUR: COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN NIGERIA: PROSPECTS

 

AND CHALLENGES. 
4.1 Introduction……………………………………………………………….57
4.2 Collective Bargaining……………………………………………………57
4.2.1 Conditions for Collective Bargaining …………………………………60
4.2.2 The Legal Status of Collective Agreement ……………………………65
4.2.3 Status of Collective Agreement under the Statutes in Nigeria ………….68
4.3 National Industrial Court………………………………………………..70

 

4.3.1 Resolution of Trade Dispute by the National Industrial Court (NIC)..73
4.3.2 Establishment of an ADR Centre at the National Industrial Court…75
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 
5.1Summary………………………………………………………………80
5.2Findings………………………………………………………………80
5.3Recommendations……………………………………………………82
 Bibliography  ………………………………………………………….84

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1         Background to the study

Contract of employment is indispensable in economic growth and development of every modern society as it regulates and coordinates the efforts of labour and management (social partners) toward production of goods and services essential to the needs of individuals and the society. In Nigeria, these goods and services constitute an important source from where income is generated to sustain the economy and to enhance the citizen‟s well-being. Central to the existence of a productive employment relation however, is an atmosphere of harmonious co-existence characterized by mutual respect between the parties who appreciate that they need each other as management alone cannot create wealth. However, the emergence of free market economy has brought with it complexities in labour management relationship, which is being fraught with perennial conflicts of interests and mutual suspicion, with each party standing astute to wield its own weapon to protect its perceived interest in the relationship. This near hostile relationship usually results in trade disputes culminating in strikes, which have almost crippled the economy in the country.1

Industrial actions involve the interruption of economic process in the workplace as a method of inducing pressure collectively by workers on their employers.2 These actions have both costs and benefits to the three social partners (government, labour and management) and the society at large. For instance, most trade disputes aim at changing

1Ogbuanya, N.C.S. (2012) Arbitration as a means of settlement of Trade DisputesThe NigerianExperience, In: Contemporary Issues in the Administration of Justice. Treasure Hall Konsult, p. 174.

  • Audi, J. A. M. (2005) Strike as a Labour Union Tool in Nigeria: Reflections on the Trade Union Act,2005, Ahmadu Bello University Law Journal, Vol. 23-24, P.94.

the bargaining position of the workers. Labour union mandate its members to embark on strike, in the hope that it will pressurize management to take a desired course of action in line with labour demands for improvement in conditions of services, better living standard of workers and their families.3However, it should be noted that the costs of industrial disputes have always outweighed the benefits. Trade disputes as exemplified by strikes, to a large extent, have a great bearing on the smooth and orderly development of the economy and the maintenance of law and order in the society. They sometimes arouse public resentment because they may hurt the public more than the parties involved in the dispute. For instance, strikes have a dramatic effect on the public, particularly in essential industries. The costs of strikes include loss of production or output; disruption in essential services (oil, electricity, education, and banking); capacity under-utilization; scarcity and high costs of essential items; unemployment and manpower contraction amongst others.4 A strike-prone country is not likely to attract foreign investors as this index has become one of the major considerations for foreign industrialists and multinational corporations. However, it may be instructive to state that, whether dispute staged is adjudged to be successful or not, it is obvious that some damage must have been done and parties and the public have to bear the costs.5

It is well known that trade unionism all over the world emerged for improving the economic, living and working conditions of workers through collective bargaining. To achieve this, workers´ rights and interests are legally protected nationally and internationally not just as producer of national wealth but also as citizens. Such rights are

4Adeleke, M.O. (2010) Lagos State Multi-Door Courthouse: An Appraisal, Essays in Honour of Governor BabatundeRajiFashola (SAN), p. 317.

5Chukwudi, F. A.,Chidi, O. C., and Ogunyomi, O. P. (2012)Trade Disputes and Settlement Mechanisms inNigeria: A Critical Analysis, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business, Vol. 2, Issue. 2, p. 8. conferred on workers and their organizations taking into consideration their special role and the need to protect them from extreme abuse and exploitation in the hands of profit-conscious employers often backed by a collaborative state.6 For instance, Article 23 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights6 guarantees everybody the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment, as well as, the right to form, and join trade unions for the protection of rights. Similarly, Article 4 on the rights to organize and collective bargaining7 has granted workers the right to adequate protection against acts of entire union discrimination in respect of their employment.

 

In Nigeria, section 40 (1) of the Constitution91 pluralized the word “interest” to emphasize that a trade union may bargain with the employer on behalf of the workers for variety of interest. For instance, it may be financial interests, political interests, economic interests, the physical conditions of work or national interests. Furthermore, the government realizes the effects of trade dispute and all its attendant consequences. Hence, it has provided legislations that provide for various legal mechanisms for effective settlement of trade disputes for the overall growth and development of economy. For instance, section 4 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act8 for instance required disputants to always resort to agreed means of settling their dispute whether such agreed means is by virtue of a collective agreement between the parties or any other agreement. Where the voluntary method fails, the parties are expected to refer the dispute to National

6Adewuni, (2007) Protecting Workers Rights in the Export Processing Zones: Challenges for labour movement, Labour Law Review, NJLL & IR, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 77.

61948.

  • Geneva International Labour Organization,1998 .

91Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap. C23, LFN, 2004 (as amended).

  • CapT8, LFN, 2004.

 

3

 

 

Industrial Court (NIC) for adjudication. The statutory settlement mechanism is exemplified by collective bargaining (negotiation) Mediation, Conciliation, Industrial Arbitration Panel and the National Industrial Court. In labour relations, a pre-condition to the exercise of the right to collective bargaining is for the employer or his association to recognize the union as a bargaining agent. In Nigeria section 25 (1) and (2) of the Trade Unions Act9 has obliged employers recognize registered trade unions. Recognition connotes the willingness of an employer to bargain with a union.10

1.2         Statement of the Problem

 

The framework of substantive law established by the state for the resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria lacks some critical components of trade disputes resolution. For instance, the N1, 000 fine provided by section 25 (2) of the Trade Unions Act,94 as sanction for refusal by an employer to recognize a registered trade union in Nigeria, is highly doubtful whether it can serve as deterrence. Furthermore, the law has not stated how and who would monitor whether or not there is compliance with this provision of the law. Secondly, section 4 (1) and 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act5 requires disputants to always resort to the process of collective bargaining in settling their dispute. However, in Nigeria the government does not lead by example in its labour policy implementation. For instance, the government instituted collective bargaining process but it seldom respects the call for negotiation or complies with collective agreements reached with trade unions. This questions the possibility of ever allowing collective bargaining to achieve its intended purpose. Additionally, litigation has generally proven to be largely

9Cap. T14, LFN, 2004.

10Kahn-Freund, O. (1965) Report on the Legal Status of Collective Bargaining and Collective Agreement in Great Britain, In: Kahn-Freund, O. Temple Gardens, London, p. 28.

  • T14, LFN, 2004. 5Ibid.

ineffective in resolving trade disputes because apart from being adversarial in nature, it is often very rigid as parties are often bound by decisions not of their own choices.

Furthermore, section 24 of the Trade Unions (Amendment) Act11 obliged all registered trade unions for the purposes of collective bargaining to constitute Electoral College to elect members who will represent them in negotiations with the employer. The problem with this section is that it does not prescribe the modalities for setting an electoral college. This gap may give room for the state or employers to manipulate the criteria for the selection of bargaining agents and consequently, generate more industrial strife than it is intended to resolve. Finally, it is doubtful if ADR Centre at the NIC would be attractive for workers to refer a trade dispute for settlement because of the overbearing influence of the President of the NIC. For instance, the President determines whether any extension would be granted to initial stipulated period for settlement. He also constitutes the panel for any ADR process based on his discretion. The exercise of such enormous powers by the President of the NIC is capable of affecting the trust and confidence workers may have in the ADR process, considering that the President of the NIC, who established the ADR Centre, is an employee of the government. It is against this background that following questions become imperative:

  1. Can the substantive law on trade disputes in Nigeria guarantee effective settlement of trade disputes in the country?

 

  1. What are institutional challenges inhibiting effective settlement of trade disputes in Nigeria?

11S. 24(1) Trade Union (Amendment) Act 2005.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Research

The aim of this study is to critically examine the effectiveness of the trade disputes settlement mechanisms (DSM) in Nigeria, with a view to making recommendations that would enhance industrial peace and consequently guarantee uninterrupted supply of goods and essential services in the country at an affordable price. The research aimed at realizing this through the following specific objectives:

 

  1. To assess the effectiveness of the mechanism of Trade Disputes Settlement in Nigeria.

 

  1. To identify and examine the institutional challenges to effective conflict resolution in reducing the growing dissonance in labour-management relations in Nigeria.

 

  1. To advance recommendations for the efficient and effective settlement of trade disputes in Nigeria.

1.4 Justification of the Research

A study on resolution of trade disputes in labour relations is of great significance given the consequences of such disputes on the economic development of the nation. In other sense therefore, the study provides information for understanding how most conflicts arise in industrial establishment and degenerate into industrial disputes. It also provides information on effective negotiation procedure and disputes resolutions between various parties in labour relations.

Furthermore, the employers, government, employees and the society at large also stand to benefit from this work, in that relative industrial peace in the economy will no doubt guarantee a steady supply of goods and services at an affordable price and consequently prevent social unrest. This work is equally beneficial because it provides additional reference material for students, lawyers, parties in industrial relations and the interested public.

1.5 Research Methodology

Doctrinal method has been adopted for this research. Being library oriented, the research analyses materials derived from both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include information from national and international legal instruments on trade disputes settlements as well as local and foreign judicial decisions. While the secondary sources include books, journals, articles, news papers and internet materials. These materials provide the basis for analyzing the effectiveness of trade disputes settlement mechanism in Nigeria.

1.6         Scope of the Study

This research is restricted to the examination of the effectiveness of the trade dispute settlement mechanism in Nigeria. A trade dispute is very wide area in law. There are a lot of legal instruments, institutional mechanisms, and case laws as well as policy framework at the national level to regulate trade disputes in labour relation in Nigeria. Specifically, the research will examine the mechanism of trade dispute settlement as provided under section 4 (1) of the Trade Disputes Act.12 These include collective bargaining (negotiation) mediation, conciliation, industrial arbitration panel and the national industrial court as well as the NIC ADR Centre. Though, territorially the research is limited to Nigeria, reference is made to other jurisdictions for guidance, where necessary.

12Cap T8, LFN, 2004.

1.7         Literature Review

Generally, much has been written on labour management relationship. For instance, Aturu13 has given support to the legislative definitions of trade dispute contained in section 47 of the Trade Dispute Act14. That section defines a trade dispute as “any dispute between employers and workers or between workers and workers, which is connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of employment and physical conditions of work of any person”. The author maintained further that the following elements must be present before a dispute can qualify as a trade dispute: the dispute must be between employers and workers or workers and workers, the dispute must be connected with the employment or non-employment of any person; or the dispute must be connected with the terms of employment or physical conditions of work of any person. This work has no doubt provided a basis for appreciating the concept and nature of labour disputes. However, the traditional concept of labour dispute needs to be expanded beyond the parameter of being a dispute between employer and employees on terms and conditions of employment for the following reasons: First, most labour disputes in Nigeria are directed at the government, even when the government cannot be categorically regarded as the employer of the workers concerned. Secondly, there were certain government policies in Nigeria which though outside the scope of the workers´ employment, but which have directly affected the terms and conditions of their employment. Thus, relying on the traditional concept of labour disputes cast a further doubt as to the legal meaning of the term “labour dispute” in Nigeria.

13Aturu, B. (2005). Nigerian Labour Laws: Principles, Cases, Commentaries and Materials. Lagos:

Frankad Publishers.

14Cap T8, LFN, 2004,

Most writers agree that some conflicts are both inevitable and necessary in effective organizations. Robbins15, for instance argued that, it is not natural for an untrained or inexperienced person to avoid threatening situations. He maintained that it is generally acknowledged that conflicts represent the most severe test of a manager‟s interpersonal skills. The author concludes that the task of the effective manager therefore is to maintain an optimal level of conflicts focused on productive purposes. It is important to add however that, in reality, the number of industrial conflicts fluctuates with the movement of the business cycle. In a democratic setting, conflict is never eliminated but could be better regulated. Conflict is accepted as an inevitable consequence of a complex society predicated on a complex culture. The number of conflicts and the issues involved will differ in historical periods as well as the techniques for carrying them out. Like other institutional frameworks, it needs be emphasized that industrial conflict is not static but it is a phenomenon passing through an evolutionary process.

Iwuji16 posits that labour dispute is an unavoidable evil in any modern organization, particularly in large ones. It is a product of industrialization. Work relations themselves are inevitable source of dispute. The author describes disputes as a vital process towards seeming adjustments of expectation to economic realities. He concluded that the conflict taking place in industrial relations between those who buy labour and those who sell it is seen as a permanent feature of capitalism, merely reflecting the predominant power base of the bourgeois and the class relations of capitalist society generally. However, while it is true that if conflicts are constructively managed, they can have positive outcomes, it is

15Robbins S. P. (1974).Managing Organizational Conflicts: A Non-Traditional Approach, Englewood

Cliffs, N. J: Prentice Hall.

16Iwuji E. C. (1987). “Settlement of Trade Disputes” in D. Otobo and M. Omole (eds) Readings inIndustrial Relations in Nigeria, Lagos, Malthouse Publishing, Ltd, p.213.

imperative to state further that some industrial conflicts may have serious economic repercussions while others do not have any significant effect on the economy. In similar vein, conflict organized during recession or depression period of an industry will have no appreciable impact on management or perhaps on the economy. Management therefore would have been successful in curbing or checking the effects of the union‟s economic weapon (strike). Where a harmonious relationship exist between parties, both union and management will be opposed to the use of strike except as a last resort and this vital point differentiates strikes which are regarded as the costliest and extreme form of industrial conflict from other forms of conflict. Strikes may be the most overt and the most significant aspect of industrial conflict, but they are unfortunately only part of the phenomenon of conflict.

Allen17 sees class conflict as permeating the whole of society and is not just an industrial phenomenon. The author however argued that trade unionism is a social as well as industrial phenomenon. He maintained that trade unions are by implication, challenging the property relations whenever they challenge distribution of the national product. The author concludes that by looking at the role trade union which he says is challenge all the prerogatives which go with the ownership of the means of production, not simply means of production, not simply the exercise of control over labour power in industry among others. The author seems to concentrate only on the negative effects of organisational conflicts. Role of Trade Unions in Nigerian Industrial Relations observed the trends of unionism and lapses in the attainment of harmony between trade unions and

17Allen V. I. (1971). The Sociology of Industrial Relations: London: Longman.

employers. Dahida18 observed that trade dispute is a common occurrence in both private and public sectors owing to the fact that the goalsand objectives of staff and management in any given organization defers. For instance, the employees tend toseek for improved welfare while the management may desire high turn-over and improved productivity. Thecontinuous desire of each party (employee and employer) to achieve individual or collective objectives may endup in trade dispute. This work however tend to narrow the incidences where trade dispute could arise to lack of improved welfare. The work fails to examine other issues that could give rise to trade disputes in an industrial establishment such obnoxious policies.

In the views of Otobo19, conflict may be organized or unorganized. Organized conflict has to do with a conscious strategy designed to change the situation identified as the source of conflict. In unorganized conflict, the workers react spontaneously to the situation in the only way open to them as individuals. According to the author, it could be through outright sabotage or indiscipline. He argued that, where workers experience sufficiently acute deprivations, unrest will be expressed in one form or the other. The circumstance of the case will however influence what form the expression of the conflict will take. However, the work did not pay attention to why, in most cases, the white-collar workers (office staff) have been identified with organized conflict, while the blue-collar workers (technicians), with both organised and unorganized conflict. There is also the need to expand examination of conflict to include the total range of behaviour and attitude that express opposition and divergent orientations between individual owners and

18Dahida D. P.,(2013) A Comparative Analysis of Trade Disputes Settlement in Nigerian Public and Private Universities, Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization ,Vol.18.

19Otobo, D. (1987). “Strikes and Lockouts in Nigeria: Some Theoretical Notes”. In: D. Otobo and M.

Omole (eds) Readings in Industrial Relations in Nigeria,  Lagos: Malthouse Publishing Ltd

managers on one hand and working people and their organization on the other. From motivation studies, we can infer that, job or salary dissatisfaction is likely to result into certain outcomes. A worker who is satisfied would take time off to look for alternative jobs, thereby increasing his/her absence from work. He or she might just wilfully, without official release, be absent from work, especially where strong sanctions are not imposed to check frivolous absences.

In discussing the types of trade disputes,Bassey, et‟al,20 seem to limit trade disputes into two categories. The authors classified trade as Interest Disputes and Grievance or Right Disputes. The learned authors maintained that interest disputes also called “economic disputes”, arise outof terms and conditions of employment either out of the claims made by the employees or offers given by theemployers. Such demands or offers are generally made with a view to arrive at a collective agreement. While grievance or right disputes arise out of application or interpretation of existing agreements or contracts between the employees and the management. They relate either to individual worker or a group of workers in the same group, however, beyond these categories of trade disputes mentioned by the authors, it is important to also note that, workers could embark on industrial disputes not necessarily for any of the reasons they mentioned, but purely on solidarity basis.

Leonard21 explained that, Nigeria does not have a regulated market for trade union activism. He maintained that though, Nigeria‟s law and policy directives by government

20A. O., Ojua, T. A., Archibong, E. P., &Bassey, U. A. (2012), “The Impact of Inter-Union Conflicts on Industrial Harmony: The Case of Tertiary Institution in Cross River State Nigeria” Malayasian Journal ofSociety and Space, 8(4).

21Leonard C. Opara., (2014), “The Legal Frame Work of Trade Union Activism and the Role of National Industrial Court (NIC) in Handling Trade Disputes”, International Journal of Humanities and SocialScience, Vol. 4 No. 3.

have encouraged trade union negotiations and collective bargaining in trade dispute resolutions and settlements. The author further discussed the various legal issues that are encountered in trade union and the role of National Industrial Court in trade dispute settlement and how it can effectively manage trade union activism and concluded that a Labour Court of Appeal to be provided in the Constitution since it is a specialized court mainly for labour and industrial workers. The author however fails to advance cogent reasons why he feels that the Labour Court of Appeal if established would be more effective than the NIC. The problem inhibiting effective resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria does not necessarily have to do with establishment of Labour Court of Appeal, but whether the existing mechanism of trade disputes settlement in Nigeria are flexible enough as to allow the agreement or wishes of the parties to determine the outcome of the settlement.

Agbi22noted that, it is better to handle and manage conflicts before they get out hand. The author explains that conflict management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. He opined that the aim of conflict management is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in organizational setting. He further observed that in order to prevent organizational conflict, the application of conflict management strategy is imperative. The author suggested that since conflict is inevitable, management must find ways of properly managing conflicts in an equitable way so that the aggrieved employee or group of employees usually a union would not result to strike or other forms

22Agbi, S (2013), Conflict Management and Collective Bargaining in Workplace: A case study of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada Abuja, Being a Paper Presented at Workshop on Labour- Management Relations at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Conference Hall. 27th Wednesday, November 27, 2013.

or industrial action. It is indeed necessary, as pointed out by the learned author that, conflict in a workplace can be managed if the management is able to nip the issues resulting to grievance at the bud. However, the work appears to be limited in scope as it has not explain in detail the conflict management strategy needed to effectively manage conflict in an industrial establishment. As part of mechanism for resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria, Chidi23, define the term collective bargaining as the process of agreeing terms and conditions of employment through representatives of employers (and possibly their associations) and representatives of employees (and probably their unions). She further posits that collective bargaining is the process whereby representatives of employers and employees jointly determine and regulate decisions pertaining to both substantive and procedural matters within the employment relationship. The outcome of this process is the collective agreement. Collective bargaining as one of the processes of industrial relations performs a variety of functions in work relations. It is a means for resolving workplace conflict between labour and management as well as the determination of terms and conditions of employment. It important to point out also that, collective bargaining could also be viewed as a means of industrial jurisprudence as well as a form of industrial democracy. The author has also not shown to what extent collective bargaining has been effective in the resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria.

Jide24 examined the effectiveness of collective bargaining as conflict tre solution mechanisms. The author argued that even though the history of collective bargaining in Nigeria is traceable to the public sector, the machinery has performed relatively poorly

23Chidi, O. C. (2008). “Industrial Democracy in Nigeria: Myth or Reality?” Nigerian Journal of LabourLaw & Industrial Relations.Vol.2 N01. March, pp.97-110

24Jide I., (2013), “Collective Bargaining and Conflict Resolution in Nigeria‟s Public Sector”, Ife PsychologIA, 21(2),

due to the uniqueness and employment practices of government as an employer of labour and its regulatory role. The author therefore recommends the introduction of extra-statutory methods and incentives comparable to those in the private sector to motivate workers in order to elicit hard work and maximum display of initiative. These can be in form of merit awards, productivity bonuses, vacation travel/leisure incentives, children education subsidies and other desirable schemes. In addition, periodic review inremuneration and other welfare packages should be initiated without the workers agitating for them. While an effective implementation of the above recommendation would no doubt reduced the incidences of industrial disputes in Nigeria, the author did not avert his mind on the fact that the problem of collective bargaining in Nigeria starts with recognition of trade union for bargaining purposes. Though, the law accords recognition to registered trade union to bargain with the employer, it is however not clear as to subject matter they can bargaining on, whether it should include merit award or not.

Njoku and Nwosu25 posit that the role of government can be seen in providing a level playing field for the interested “publics” in industrial relations through the recognition of collective bargaining as a means of settling conflicts. Despite its potential in fostering industrial harmony, bargaining is less effective in Nigeria; particularly in the public sector. This is so, because government has always resorted to the use of ad-hoc committees or commissions in settling workers‟ demands. In the same vein, Anyim, and Chidi,26 opined that the use of ad-hoc commissions in addressing workers‟ demands such as wage determination and other terms and conditions is unilateral and undemocratic as it

25Njoku, I.A. &Nwosu, C. (2007).„State, Industrial Relations and Conflict Management‟. Nigerian Journalof Labour Law & Industrial Relations. Vol. N0 2, April, pp.148-156

26Anyim, C.F., Chidi, O. C., Ogunyomi, O.P (2012), Trade Dispute and Settlement Mechanism Nigeria: A Critical Analysis, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business, Vol. 2 (2):01-08

negates good industrial democratic principles. The authors concluded that this practice is antithetical to democratic values. They suggested that social dialogue should be vigorously pursued and embraced by all stakeholders to manage conflict at all times.The authors however, fail to offer any alternative to the social partners in case if the social dialogue at workplace fails. A major alternative in such a circumstance is reference to National Industrial Court. Ifeanyichukwu et‟al27 explained that National Industrial Court (NIC) is a specialized labour court set up to deal with labour related matters. The authors argued that the need for NIC was predicated on the fact that the conventional courts and the system of law they administer, which is essentially based on common law principles are ill-suited for the challenges labour related matters. Furthermore, labour issues are pure economic matters which require equitable approach rather than purely legalistic approach. They further maintained that, the Act establishing the NIC gave it exclusive jurisdiction on matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations disputes and matters arising from the workplace, conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employees, workers and matters incidental thereto or connected therewith. They concluded by explaining the role of NIC in the resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria to include advisory, adjudicative, and interpretation and application of awards and judgment. However, the authors did not dwell more on the question as to why despite the existence of NIC in Nigeria, trade disputes seem to be on the increase. In other word, why would workers prefer to embark on strike rather than submit a trade dispute to the NIC?

27Ifeanyichukwu O., et‟al, (2016), “The Role of National Industrial Court in Sustaining Harmony in Nigerian Health Sector: A Case of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital”, Journal of Management andSustainability; Vol. 6, No. 1.

Another option where social dialogue in a workplace fails, is Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR). Ukonu and Emerole28 define ADR as a term used to describe various different methods of resolving legal disputes without litigation. The authors explained that ADR approaches seek to involve the disputing parties in the resolution of theirconflict, thereby increasing the probability that each of them will be more satisfied with the outcome than a situation in which a manager or a trial judge imposes a decision. The learned authors further enumerated and explained the major ADR process such as negotiation, conciliation, mediation and arbitration. They concluded by suggesting that, grievances should be treated with urgency. Prompt treatment of grievances will help to foster a productive, equitable and harmonious workplace. This work has addressed an important aspect of this research. Though, it is limited in scope as it has not examine in particular, the legal challenges of the National Industrial Court ADR Center in the resolution of trade disputes in Nigeria.

1.8         Organizational Layout

This research work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the general introduction and preliminary issues such as aim and objectives, scope of the study, methodology, justification, statement of the problem and literature review. Chapter two examines the meaning of trade disputes, position of the law on trade disputes and the role of trade unions in trade disputes. Chapter three analyses the causes and effects of trade disputes in Nigeria. Chapter four examines the mechanisms through which disputes are settled. It starts with voluntary methods, statutory, mediation, conciliation, arbitration,

28Ukonu, I. O., and Emerole, G. A., (2015) “Conflict Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in the Health Sector: A Case of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital” European Journal ofBusiness and Management, Vol.7, No.27.

industrial arbitration panel, National Industrial Court and the ADR Centre established under the NIC. Chapter five summarizes the work, highlights the major findings and makes recommendations.

 

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