The Impact of Strike Action on the Achievement of Trade Union Objectives
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
A strike action also called labor strike or industrial action is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employee(s) to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. The strike became important during the Industrial Revolution when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, they were quietly made illegal, as factory owners had far more political power than workers. Most western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
Strikes are sometimes used to put pressure on the government to change policies. Occasionally, a strike destabilizes the rule of a particular political party or ruler. In such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance. A notable example is the stoppage of work by the indigenous railways’ workers in (1932) led by Pa Michael Imodu during the colonial era and the first general strike in (1945) in Nigeria.
From 1970 to the present time, workers’ demand for improved conditions of work and wages have increased the number of strike actions as management most times would not accurately satisfy the needs and requests of employees even in the face of economic recession.
In this study, however, we are going to examine the causes of strikes, i.e. consequences and impact on the achievement of trade union objectives.
Strikes are the most significant aspect of industrial conflict. A strike is defined as the temporary stoppage of work in the pursuance of a grievance or demand. In practice, however, it has been difficult to separate strikes from other forms of expression of an industrial dispute as employers lock out workers and workers themselves embark on strike action.
It is more useful to view both phenomena as part and parcel of the conflict situation, not as the opposite. Rarely does a strike occur over a single issue for an obvious cause may be linked with several other issues that are not immediately apparent to the observation that has caused dissatisfaction because solutions to them have been long in coming. The actual occurrence of a stroke depends on several factors including prevailing circumstances. This also goes to show that few strikes occur spontaneously especially as there is no way of guaranteeing that strike actions instead of the other forms of industrial action would be decided upon by workers involved.
Each time strike occurs substantial man-hour is lost, a good example is the first general strike of (1945), the (1993) ASUU strike where universities in the country were closed for a couple of months thereby causing setbacks in the tertiary institution.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, the two major umbrella bodies of workers’ unions in Nigeria mobilized workers for an indefinite strike action which commenced on Monday, 9th January 2012 to drive home the protest against the fuel subsidy removal of January 1st, 2012. The government of Nigeria removed fuel subsidies by increasing the price of petrol per liter from N65 to N141 on January 1st, 2012.
This nationwide strike affected the country’s economy negatively where the volume of trading on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange,( NSE) fell by 82 percent, local flights were grounded, and the lifting of crude oil was hampered. The strike had a lot of effect on the major sector of the economy as activities of the (NSE) that are trading slumped by 80%, while banks complied with the strike order and closed shop, the NSE opened for business as usual. But at the close of trading, only 46.06 million shares were traded in 20 deals.
This is a significant reduction when compared with an average of 262 million shares worth about N1.05 billion traded in 2,509 deals the previous week. The Nigeria Labour Congress,(NLC) has led several general strikes in the past to mention a few. In 2004, the Nigeria Labour Congress gave the Federal government an ultimatum to reverse the decision to introduce the controversial fuel tax or force a nationwide protest strike. The strike threat was made even though the Federal High Court judgment in an earlier dispute had declared the organization lacked the legal power to call a general strike over government policies.
It is in this context that the research wishes to access the impact of strike action on the achievement of trade union objectives in both private and public sectors in Nigeria and how management policies/decisions are influenced by workers through the representatives (trade union) to the effect of harmonizing management policies with trade union objectives enhancing efficiency as well as maintain good industrial relation peace and harmony in the workplace using.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The unstable industrial relation climate in Nigeria just within the decades has resulted in a record of lost working hours, and unprecedented work stoppage as a result of strike action.
By October 1981, both federal and state governments were broke, by December, seven out of the nineteen state governments could hardly pay the salaries of their employees; by June 1982, Bendel,Rivers, Cross Rivers, Benue, and the Imo States were owing teachers two to four months arrears. It was only when junior workers threatened strike action in Cross River State and teachers actually abandoned classes in Bendel State after not receiving January salaries as of April 1982 that both governments cleared part of the outstanding amount.
In the first six months of the year 1982, Nigeria lost a total of 4,598 man-hours because of strike action by workers. The recent strike action embarked by Nigeria Labour Congress in January 2012 has cost the country millions of naira as all the sectors of the economy which engage in productivity activities to boost the gross domestic product of the economy were closed down for a couple of days.
1.3 PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study is to probe into the effectiveness of strike action as a means of achieving union objectives from the management. This study is based on a case study of EMENITE LIMITED ENUGU.
Precisely, the study is focused on the following issues, tools for achieving union demands from management using strikes as the major tools in achieving union objectives.
The recommendation which will be based mainly on the findings of the research will be implemented to strengthen the effectiveness of strike action as means of achieving union objectives. If on the other hand, the study suggests a better way of achieving union aims than strike, then of course the mentor will be recommended.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The research work focuses particularly on the impact of strikes on the achievement of trade unions in an organization. The research is conducted to cover and improve the management of the organization focusing on the company EMENITE LIMITED, ENUGU. For this reason, therefore, the researcher has consulted several reviews, on issues of strikes and trade unions to include textbooks on industrial relations, management, social sciences, dissertations from academicians on related issues, Newspaper edits journals, etc. the work would be very large if all the argument of the different authors is presented, but they have been carefully selected so that only issues-particularly concentrating on the impact of strikes on the achievement of trade objectives are considered.
1.5 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
A work of this nature is not easy to accomplish for its wide scope and for the expense it would involve such as financial problems, time constraints, material cost, apathy on the part of respondents, and bureaucratic procedure involved in releasing data in the organization of my case study. The research would have been more expensive and capital intensive if it were to cover all the public sectors corporation in the country, thus the research area is limited to…
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Does the existence of a trade union leader increase strike action?
2. Does collective bargaining lead to human resource practices that help in the achievement of union objectives?
3. Do trade unions influence the making and implementation of management policies?
4. Has the trade union activities affected the organization’s objective negatively?
5. Is union-management effective?
6. Does the union undertake peaceful dialogue as a means of settling trade disputes between management and the employee?
7. How good is the union-management relation of the organization?
8. Does the management respond to the union positively?
1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The researcher formulates the following hypothesis based on the objectives and problems identified for this research work, stating them in both Null and alternate forms.
1. Ho: Organizational objectives are low where there is a strong and viable trade union.
H1: Organizational objectives are high where there is a strong and viable trade union.
2. Ho: Trade union and management do not co-operate to raise organizational objectives
H1: Trade union and management co-operate to raise organizational objectives
3. Ho: There is no significant relationship between the activities of trade unions and organizational objectives.
H1: There is a significant relationship between the activities of trade unions and organizational objectives.
4. Ho: Unstable union-management relationship has no significant effect on the organizational objective
H1: Unstable union-management relationship has a significant effect on the organizational objective
5. Ho: Trade union activities do not influence the making and implementation of management policies in the organization.
6. H1: Trade union activities influence the making and implementation of management policies in the organization.
1.8 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work will be relevant to management and employee.
It will be beneficial to other public sectors in Nigeria; it will also be of importance to the government, academicians, and potential and future researchers on the issue of the impact of strike action on the achievement of trade union objectives in an organization. This empirical study is also important for the reward of a Bachelor of Science (B.SC) in industrial relations and personnel management.
The study will also identify how management and union can co-operate to enhance the achievement of trade union objectives in an organization. It will provide a basis for trade union re-orientation objectives to be achieved for a better and harmonious industrial relationship.
It will also provide a framework for management and union to relate for increased productivity and good condition of service.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
STRIKE: A strike is defined as a temporary stoppage of work in the pursuance of a grievance or demand.
TRADE UNION: This is a combination of workers who are wages or salary earners form to regulate work terms and conditions for maintenance and improve the employment condition of their members.
WORKING CONDITION: A comfortable environment (condition of floor and workroom, dressing rooms and cafeteria, temperature and humidity, cleanliness, comfort and safety (of floors, tools, and so forth) and efficiency (steady product flow, adequate wage, and salary, performance approval, incentive, motivation and welfare services.
GRIEVANCE: situation of dissatisfaction on the part of the worker of the organization.
EMPLOYEE: Refers to the worker(s), the person(s) responsible for carrying out day-to-day activities of the organization toward achieving the target goals.
EMPLOYER: Refers to the management board, one that engages human and material resources for the production of goods and services.
MANAGEMENT: Refers in this study to be the body of the employer and its representatives, foremen, and supervisors inclusive.
DISPUTE: Is any argument or disagreement between employer and workers, or between workers and workers which is concerned with the employment and nonemployment conditions of work of any person.
WORK: This implies any kind of purposive action i.e. whether paid or unpaid, full time or part-time, formal or informal concerning an organization; it is used to imply the operation involved in a particular job or work.
ORGANIZATION: A group of people brought together to achieve certain objectives, while these members may change the role of the organization which is its basic unit is maintained.
LABOUR RELATION/INDUSTRIAL RELATION: It refers to the totality of interaction between an organization’s management and the organized labor/trade union. Its purpose is to serve the interest of both the state and the working classes. It is often called collective bargaining. It is not only for industrial or manufacturing contexts but extends also to issues and procedures concerning employment in any working environment.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: is a process of discussion and negotiation between two parties one or both of whom is a group of persons acting in consent.
LOCKOUTS: refers to the action of an employer in temporarily closing down or shutting down the undertaking or refusing to provide its employees with work with intention of forcing them to either accept the demand made by them or to withdraw the demand made by them on him.
LABOUR FORCE: they refer to the collection of people who are available to perform work in an economy or organization.
POLICY: A set of rules or principles to guide the activities of the members of an organization towards the achievement of a given objective or purpose within a specific time.
HARMONY: Used in this study to mean peace among the workers and management.
SYSTEM: This means chain or line of operational activities.
COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT: This is a contract of employment negotiated between management and a union.
MACHINERY: As a function unit, it means a system by which something is kept in action through which the desired result is obtained.
1.10 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The theoretical framework is defined as a theoretical mirror or pillar upon which research work is seen. Its importance of it can not be overemphasized. According to Obassi (1999:9), it is a device or scheme for adopting or applying the assumption, a theoretical framework is a way of describing, analyzing, interpreting, and predicting phenomena, it has the potential to provide a significant rationale for a study. Therefore, it provides the theoretical framework of this study based on an interactionist perspective organization. A more recent view of conflict is a positive force and necessary for effective performance. This approach encourages a minimum level of conflict within the group to encourage self-criticism, change, and innovation and to help prevent apathy or to quest a tolerance for harmony and the status quo.
The overall background of the research
Conflict perse is not necessarily good or bad but an inevitable feature of organizational life and should be judged in terms of its effect on performance.
Even if the organization has taken great care to try and avoid conflict, it will still occur. Conflict must continue to emerge despite attempts to suppress it.
For a long, the strike has been recognized as a legitimate weapon of workmen for ventilating their grievances or seeking enforcement of rights. But it is not a fundamental right because otherwise, it could not have been controlled by statutes like the Industrial dispute Act. The Indian constitution does not consider the right to strike as a fundamental right.
The general right to resort to strike has been recognized by defining the circumstances under which a strike is to be regarded as illegal. The right to strike, however, is not unjustified; it is a relative right that can be exercised with due regard to the right workers. A strike, therefore, should be used as a weapon only as a last resort when all avenues have proved futile and so long as it is used in a restrained peaceful manner for good and justifiable reasons.
Mahatma Gandhi recognized the workers’ right to strike but he warned that such a strike should be conducted when all other methods have failed. The national commission on labour believes that “The right to strike and the right to lockout with reasonable restraint has been recognized in all democratic societies, though the degree of freedom granted for the exercise has varied in different countries. According to the social, economic, and political systems prevailing there”
BACKGROUND/HISTORY OF THE STUDY
Emenite Ltd is an asbestos roofing ceiling sheet producing company incorporated in (1961) with registration number Rc 2712. It started operations in (1963). The company is a member of the Belgium Etex group.
The company is a joint venture between the heterotrimer Societe Anonyme of Belgium (now Etex group S.A) and the Anambra and Imo state (now Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi state) government with a shareholding capacity of 51% and 45% respectively as at March, 24 (1988).
The company was formerly named Turner Asbestos cement company Nigeria limited, with shareholders of 80% to Turner and Newall Ltd and the government of eastern Nigeria 20% as of 1961. In 1973 due to the decree on indigenization, the shareholding changed to Turner and Newall Ltd with 60% to the company and 40% to the Eastern government as the company changes its name to Turner building products (Emene) limited.
In 1988 after Turner and Newall diverted interest in the company, it transferred its 51% shareholding to Heterotrimer Societe Anonyme of Belgium (Now Etex group S.A) The remaining share of 45% went to the Easter government of Nigeria and had a change of name which is known as Emenite up to date.
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