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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.
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 Disputes – The Nigerian Experience, In: Contemporary Issues in the Administration of Justice. Treasure Hall Konsult, p. 174.
2 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
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