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PROJECT TOPIC: GOVERNMENT-LABOUR RELATION IN NIGERIA : A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC)

GOVERNMENT-LABOUR RELATION IN NIGERIA : A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC)

 

ABSTRACT

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)  as we know today was a union that comprised workers in Nigeria. They had been in the vanguard of leading not only the workers but the entire nation against the injustices being meted out on the people by the government. In this regard however, the relations that existed between Labour and Government had been at times cordial, later bitter owing to some changes that do occur in the country. The Labour Union also known as pressure groups employed many tactics in pushing forward their demands. At times, they demand for equal treatments amongst for their workers, increase on their salary structure, fringe benefits, and monetisation e.t.c.

They use some means like lobbying industrial strike, boycott and other instruments within their power in pushing forward their demand. The Labour is supposed to be one of the watchdog for the government thereby assisting the government in some of their policies. This research work is going to explain vividly relations between government and labour both cordiality and bitter aspect of it, also the historical evolution of the labour union in Nigeria and the machineries through which they employed in enforcing their demands to the government in power.

 

        CHAPTER ONE

        INTRODUCTION

        1.1     BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

 Labour is one of the factors of production in economic parlance, but assumes of primary place since it is the synthesis of all other factors of production1. According to Atoffer, labour is the exertion of the human, mental and physical nature geared towards earning economic advantages, profits, rents, wages, commissions e.t.c2. Also, Bryan A.Ganer et al, see labour as “work for  wages”. Having gotten what labour is all about, there is need to understand the meaning of a labour movement in reference to our study. Labour movement according to Edylue Ezenongaya, refers to “those who are structurally and conditionally positioned to look only for wages or salaries through bargaining or exchange process with the owners and shareholders of the production enterprise”4.

Bryan A. Garner et al, while using the word union, see it as “ an organisation formed to negotiate with employees, on behalf of salary, benefits, hours and working condition”5. Labour movement may not only aim towards salary or wage increment, but can have a wide range of interest which the union will help them achieve. So it is the set of people who are structurally organised (workers) into an association in order to improve their lot.        In most countries of the world, the relationship between government and the labour unions happens to be characterised by controversy. Even in the industrialised world, the labour in as much as  they are unrelenting and committed in contributing their own quota to national development, remains sensitive and uncompromising in matter pertaining to welfare and good living. The broader development in the relationship between the employers and employees, and especially between government and labour union has its trace with the industrial revolution with the factory system of production, the growth of a proletariat and the development of trade union6.

Historically, anywhere in the world, organised labour at one or the other disagreed with those in power on a number of issues. What is different is the way a particular labour group or government has responded to issues of disagreement whereas in Nigeria, organised labour cannot be associated with any political party in government either at federal or state, but counties like South Africa have labour centres linked to the ruling party; for instance, the congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) which is the trade union wing of the African National Congress.7 That notwithstanding, the union had series of counter-demonstrations against the ruling party (ANC). Also, in Great Britain, the labour party is currently in power. This notwithstanding, they still protest against several policies they deem inimical to them and the masses.  In Nigeria, there is no doubt that the attitude of labour towards government is as a result of what is obtainable in the country’s politico-economic system. For as long as other political parties which should table the lead in bringing the government to order remain armchair critics, for as long would labour union play the role of opposition.

What may now see as labour’s opposition role could be traced to the 1986 May Day speech of a former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ali  Chiroma. In the past five years of the Obasanjor administration, petroleum product prices have been increased five times, from N22 in 1999 to N54.50k in 2004. and consistently, it is only labour that has stood up to fight  for the people against the harsh policies of the government, not the P.D.P., which has been emasculated, not the opposition parties “which has been compromised and disorganised by sponsored crisis”.8  If the government believes that NLC is drafting  away from its objectives, it might because the government is gradually losing public confidence and the masses would rally behind and alternative credible opposition, not necessarily a rival political party in the country.

The government head by Chief Obasanjo has been following the development with every attention. The activities of this labour union to him looks undemocratic”, but the most important thing is that the government is no longer comfortable with what she termed the excesses of the labour union, like a sitting dog, has not forgotten how to bark or even bite.

GOVERNMENT-LABOUR RELATION IN NIGERIA : A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC)

        1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

          This research work will basically examine the relationship between the government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), since the re-emergence of democracy on the Nigeria political scene. The Labour (workers) have found it expedient to fight democratically for what is their entitlement the government on her side is getting up necessary machinery in place to curtail what she termed the excess of a democratic institution. The research is to examine the state of affairs with the aim of answering some unanswered questions like, how democratic the activities of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are the extent of democratic approach to labour agitation (on the side of the government) the commitment of the government towards restoring the plight of workers and Nigerians and so on.

GOVERNMENT-LABOUR RELATION IN NIGERIA : A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC)

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