A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF INDUSTRIAL CONFLICT AND ITS MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIAN COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY INSTITUTIONS (A STUDY OF IMO STATE UNIVERSITY)
1.1 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
Conflict is a regular occurrence in employee-employer relationships. There will always be a conflict between the employer and employees, regardless of whether the company is unionized or non-unionized, and regardless of whether the disagreement involves compensation or general working conditions. This is evident in all institutions and organizations worldwide, but particularly in Africa. Due to the complex nature of organizational structures, conflict is inevitable in the workplace.
Additionally, the pursuit of contradictory objectives by management and employees can lead to labor disputes. According to Dahida and Adekeye (2013), industrial disputes are widespread in both the private and public sectors because the goals and objectives of workers and management vary from company to company. Employees may demand increased perks, whereas management may seek lower turnover and increased output. Similarly, as a social institution, the educational setting is not immune to conflicts between the various associations and the administration.
According to Igbaji, the industrial conflict has become a central concept in the industrial relations system (2009). While it is impossible to eradicate strike threats, it is possible to effectively manage the tensions and misconceptions that frequently result from them.
Tertiary institutions, including universities, tertiary institutions, and colleges of education, have been closed indefinitely, and many students have dropped out due to an unresolved industrial dispute over minimum wage, inadequate funding of tertiary institutions, and the government’s failure to implement a deal reached with unions.
As with other modern institutions, tertiary institutions have conflicts, opposing agendas, and responses to employee welfare issues, which can lead to conflict. It may also be counterproductive, resulting in inefficiency, ineffectiveness, or emotional stress in the achievement of stated business goals and objectives, if not effectively handled. According to Nwankwo (2000), due to military participation in administration, Nigerian educational institutions have been subjected to unfathomable negative political interference and an apparent desire to bury them in a deluge of irrelevancies.
He continued by stating that many in authority viewed tertiary institutions as a burden, as institutions that should be exploited and abandoned. Among the symptoms include cultism, brain drain, government underfunding, loss of academic independence, general instability, deteriorating structures, and nonpayment of staff salaries.
Disagreement and incompatibility of interests and objectives between the employer and the employee, including management’s refusal to honor the employee’s agreement, issues with staff allowances and remuneration, management’s highhandedness, corruption, and mismanagement of the institution’s resources, and management’s victimization of staff.
According to Ajewole (2014), this is evidenced by the ongoing closure of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the disruption of the academic calendar, the lengthening of academic sessions, and a drop in both the projected number and quality of students produced in a given year.
According to Arikewuyo (2006), the relationship between higher education administrations and employee unions, especially academic unions, has not always been cordial. Administrators of Nigerian institutions have regularly clashed with labor unions over several issues, ranging from the administration’s heavy-handedness to the allotment of funds.
At times, the funding of various polytechnic projects, the awarding of contracts, the payment of outstanding allowances and wages, the acquisition of buildings, library and laboratory supplies, and other matters have all contributed to disagreement within the polytechnic system.
As a result of the inconsistency in the polytechnic system, which includes strikes and other industrial activities that take academic staff members away from the academic environment, disrupt the academic calendar, and ridicule the quality of polytechnic education in Nigeria, what is the impact on the quality of polytechnic education in Nigeria? As a result, it affects staff morale, attention, and commitment to academic exercise, which impacts staff performance due to a lack of upgrading of people’s characteristics.
1.2 DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM
Even the most competent, knowledgeable, and morally upright individuals may occasionally hold opposing views on certain subjects. According to Adebile and Ojo (2012), industrial disputes have become a reoccurring issue at Nigerian tertiary institutions as a result of policies, political connotations, and management and finances of the polytechnic system.
Industrial conflict is inescapable in academic contexts since different parties/unions pursue divergent interests, and administration, academic staff, and non-academic personnel rarely agree on the standards that govern the institution.
Almost every decision that management must make contains the potential for dispute. One of the most important aspects of a managerial position inside an organization is the capacity to effectively and efficiently manage potential and existing conflict.
A dispute between unions and polytechnic administration in Nigeria has hurt the polytechnic system, resulting in, among other things, disruptions in academic activities, poor academic performance, brain drain, and a low international ranking for the country’s tertiary institutions (Ogonor, 1996). Nonetheless, it is self-evident that during labor disputes, management will incur production losses, the cost of which will depend on the severity and length of the strike.
Consequently, these problems have impeded and retarded the establishment of tertiary institutions in Nigeria (F.M.E, 2004).
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study’s major objective is to evaluate industrial conflict and its management in Nigerian postsecondary institutions. Hence, the following are specific objectives:
Determine the causes of an industrial dispute at the University of Imo.
To determine the effects of the labor conflict at Imo State University.
To evaluate the approaches utilized by Imo State University to manage industrial conflicts.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions serve as a guide for this study:
What creates an industrial dispute at the University of Imo?
What are the repercussions of the labor conflict at Imo State University?
What measures does Imo State University employ to manage industrial conflicts?
1.5 Importance of the Research
This study will be significant not only to Imo State University but also to other tertiary institutions, as it will highlight the numerous reasons for industrial conflicts at Imo State University, as well as the various tactics used to manage them. The academic community will also benefit from this study, as it will add to the existing literature on this issue.
1.6 RADIUS OF STUDY
This study will only focus on industrial disputes and the strategies used to manage them at Imo State University, with a particular emphasis on determining the causes of industrial conflict at Imo State University, identifying the consequences of an industrial dispute at Imo State University, and evaluating the strategies used by Imo State University to manage industrial disputes. This research will therefore be restricted to Imo State University.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
During this investigation, the researcher was constrained by insufficient money and a lack of time to investigate the numerous themes in more depth.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
INDUSTRIAL CONFLICTS: Refers to all expressions of discontent within the employment relationship, particularly those relating to the employment contract and effort bargain.
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