The role of government in the industrial relations system and wage - related industrial unrest in the public service in nigeria

Author: 
Uzoh, Bonaventure Chigozie

This paper examined the pervasive and overriding role governments in Nigeria had played and continue to play in the country’s industrial relations system and how this influences wage – related industrial unrest in the public service. Government remains the largest employer of labour in the public sector in Nigeria and at the same time makes laws that regulate the industrial relations system. This peculiar scenario in the public sector in Nigeria has made the government to become so domineering to the extent that it takes numerous unilateral decisions and direct interventions in industrial relations matters including wage determination without recourse to collective bargaining. In Nigeria, the collective bargaining machinery is not well established and entrenched and as a result industrial relations issues including wages and how they are determined are never discussed and resolved through dialogue between the parties involved. Government, for instance, prefers to intervene directly in industrial relations through the use of wage commissions; wage committees, wage tribunals and direct pronouncements and these do not adequately put into consideration the views of workers represented by their unions in arriving at their decisions. The fact that wage – related issues are domiciled in the exclusive legislative list where only the federal government has prerogative has not in any way helped matters. One of the major fallouts of all this is that wage – related issues is not amicably resolved on a round table and in most cases degenerate to industrial unrest. This paper therefore contends that the government should take a second look at its role in the industrial relations system and begin to embrace collective bargaining as the best method to resolve industrial relations issues so as to drastically reduce the frequency of wage – related industrial unrest in the public service in Nigeria.

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