AN EXAMINATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EMPLOYERS’ ORGANIZATIONS AND THE STATE IN NIGERIA BY ANYIAM, IJEOMA LUCRETIA DECEMBER 2009
According to J. T. Dunlop (1958), an industrial relations system is comprised of the following actors: * A hierarchy of managers and their representatives in supervision (or employers and their associations) * A hierarchy of workers and any spokesmen (the workers and their unions), and * Specialized government agencies (or the state) concerned with workers, employers and their relationships. Employer’s Organizations Employer’s organizations as one of the participants in industrial relations developed quite late in Nigeria, in comparison with the workers’ unions. According to Yesufu (1962), in 1954, there were only 8 employers’ organizations in Nigeria dealing manly with regulating trade practices and services rather than collective bargaining and negotiations. This slow development were largely as a result of the slow growth of industries then, the failure of trade unions to galvanise the employers to relate seriously with them, and the government policies that were not encouraging. Although the Trade Union Act of 1973 defined a trade union as ‘a combination of workers or employers’, it was actually the 1978 Trade Union (Amendment) Act, which galvanised them into action by actually recognizing 9 employers’ organization for purposes of relating with workers and the state in industrial matters.
One of the major reasons for formation and recognition of employers’ organizations is for them to have a common platform for containing trade nions, maintaining good industrial relations by educating members on the benefits of good employer-employee relations, designing and formulating policies relating to wages and salary administration, and influencing public policy. The most notable employers’ organizations in Nigeria today include: * The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) * The Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) The Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) * The Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) * Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) NECA relates with the state on the following issues: * On industrial relations matters, to ensure peaceful industrial relations climate * Representation of Nigeria at the International Labour Organisation * It sometimes opposes government laws that would likely negatively affect its members * Provision of suggestions to the state on economic reforms e. . pensions and minimum wage * Serves on various committees, boards and agencies of the state NACCIMA relates with the state as follows: * Specifically on trading and commercial matters * Advises the state on matters affecting the general economy and business * Promotion of commercial and economic cooperation between Nigeria and the international business community * Serves on state boards and agencies MAN relates with the State in the following areas: * Production and manufacturing matters Monetary policies such as pressures for reduction of loan interest rates * Fiscal policies geared toward reduction of prohibitive taxes and import duties * Policy advocacy aimed at protection of small and infant industries * Representation on state boards e. g. Corporate Affairs Commission, NEPZA, etc
The state is both an employer and the institution that makes laws to regulate the activities of everyone else in the industrial system. As the third actor in industrial relations, and for national interest, the state regulates the relationships in the industry. The state also makes directive principles and state policies indicative of the obligations and responsibilities that the state should keep in focus while enacting laws and formulating policies, and these include: i) To fix certain social and economic goals for immediate attainment ii) To bring about a non-violent socio-economic revolution iii) To fulfil the basic need of the common citizen, etc There are also fundamental objectives of State which are economic, social, educational, ethical, environmental, and cultural. Some of the fundamental economic and social objectives of the Nigerian state include the following: a) To harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self reliant economy; b) To ensure that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens; c) To review from time to time, the ownership and control of business enterprises operating in Nigeria and make recommendations to the President on same; d) To ensure that all citizens without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment; e) To ensure that conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural life; f) To ensure that health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused; g) To ensure that there adequate medical and health facilities for all persons; h) To ensure that there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other ground whatsoever; i) To ensure that children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect; etc. In its bid to accomplish the above stated objectives, the state passes laws and establishes institutions and agencies for the regulation of above and other objectives. These include: * The Trade Disputes Act * Trade Union Act * Labour Act * Minimum Wage Act * Pensions Act * Workmen’s’ Compensation Act * Productivity, Prices and Incomes Board * The National Directorate of Employment * National Pension Commission * The National Health Insurance Scheme * The National Provident Fund Management Board * National Labour Advisory Council * National Industrial Safety Council * National Manpower Board * National Council of the West African Examination Council * Nigerian Council for Management Development National Advisory Committee on the Employment of Graduates and Professional Manpower * National Youth Service Corps Directorate * National Committee on Women and Development * ILO Committee of Experts on Social Security Relationship between Employers’ Organisations and the State The State and Employers’ organizations have a very good relationship in comparison with the role of state and the workers’ union. The areas where the relationship between the two is very visible include: Industrial Relations: The role of state in industrial relations (as the third actor) is supposed to be that of an unbiased umpire, however, it favours the employers more than the workers. State is usually dedicated to the protection of private property and minimizing disruptions to production and seeking the elimination of ‘threats’ to investments and investors, and to ‘ensure a buoyant economy’. The state cannot afford to be neutral in industrial matters, but can only favour employers’ associations for the attainment of these objectives. According to Edwards (1986) the state regulates relationship between employers and workers by determining the conditions on which labour power may be sold, and how the labour power is used by providing for compulsory union recognition and collective bargaining as a means of constraining management’s freedom to discipline workers. Legislations: Its two interests: employer and regulator do sometimes conflict and influence the kind of laws passed to regulate the three actors in industrial relations. It must be noted that most laws are geared to the protection of private property and favours management and investors. Health & Safety at work: The state attempts to establish health and safety standards at the workplace (physical work space, lighting, noise levels, protective clothing, etc); To create ‘a favourable climate for investments’ by lowering corporate and production taxes, engage in periodic downward review of import tariffs, keep a lid on wages and salaries, etc. Dispute Resolution: In its mediating role in conflict situations, the state is also biased toward the employers. It usually sets the limits within which the institutions and processes for mediation, conciliation and arbitration operates. When workers protest against some unilateral decision of employers, the state through legislation places conditions to be met, including balloting before going on strike. Political restrictions: State also passes legislation preventing unions from using their funds for political purposes, yet there is no corresponding stipulation for the employer. Representation/collaboration: The employers’ organizations are often represented in the above institutions and agencies of state listed above. Conclusion: From the above, it can be safely said that the state and employers’ organizations enjoy a symbiotic relationship, because according to Karl Marx and Engels as per Hyman (1975), “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”. While employers assist the state through payment of various forms of taxes and levies which keep the affairs of state running, the state protects the interests of the employers by creating and ensuring enabling and conducive environment to enable employers continue in business. References: Chris Obisi (2005): Substance of Employee Industrial and Labour Relations Yesufu T. M. (1981): The dynamics of Industrial Relations: the Nigerian experience Dafe Otobo (2000): Industrial Relations, theory and controversies.
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