1.1 Background to the Study
In recent times, courts in Nigeria have experience ‘wear’ and ‘tear’ as they carry out their judicial duties. In fact, the Nigerian judicial arm of government has been enervated by grievances, acrimony, conflict and apprehension (Ajayi, 2013). Sadly, the arm involved in ensuring the proper interpretation of law and order to the entire populace has experienced turbulent times. Subtly, issues whose pedigrees could be traced to superiority, autonomy, checks and balances, compensation schemes and other conditions of service gradually meandered into Nigerian judicial arm of government leading to workers and non-workers being at loggerhead with one another.
Actually, the Nigerian judicial arm of government is an open system made of different professionals each playing focal roles in maintaining law and order as clearly spelt out by the constitution of the Nigeria. Misinterpretation of their roles in the Nigerian society has become endemic and consequently, is becoming a clog in the wheel of the desired growth and development in all facets of Nigeria life, especially in the judiciary. In other words, conflicts among lawyers and judges in the judicial sector are likened to cancerous wounds proving difficult to heal. Unceremoniously, the cirques keep deepening and as such are gravely affecting the smooth running of the judiciary. Although, conflicts are inevitable form of human interaction, as Mullins (2005) proposed, they still occur even if organisations have taken great care to try and avoid it. These conflicts when not properly handled had escalated to industrial disputes. In this regards, the aggrieved parties in the judicial sector in a bid to resolve their disputes have resorted to filing law suits to drive home their points and grievances. These distortions have not only adversely affected the judicial sector, other sectors in the government and the society at large but have also ruptured the once harmonious scenario ostensible in government.
Despite government’s effort to appease and ensure harmony, peaceful and smooth running of its different labour groups in Nigeria, there has been persistent distrust and antagonism between different groups among labour. At various times, the harmony of labour has been truncated by incessant strike action resulting from compensation system, remuneration, to autonomy, conditions of service, leadership, and supremacy in the sector. Therefore, industrial harmony is paramount to industrial growth and sustenance. Suffice to say therefore that, the importance of harmony in the in any sector of the economy of Nigeria cannot be overemphasised. Accordingly, the need to maintain an idyllic working environment in different sectors of Nigerian economy and the role of the National Industrial Court in settling labour disputes remain a superlative option in situations where the aggrieved parties have decided to make the workplace a war zone. It therefore becomes appropriate to deal with issues that might lead to disputes and could predispose the sector to acrimony among different professional groups. Therefore, setting up the National Industrial Court (NIC) as the highest appellant court in promoting and sustaining harmony among labour in Nigeria is a welcome development.
Harmony among labour in any sector in Nigeria, indirectly aids to the maintenance of a healthy workforce. Hence, the National Industrial Court (NIC) has been given the constitutional and judicial right to ensure that conflicts and disputes in organisations are resolved to sustain harmony. Consequently, the National Industrial Court among others has played either Advisory role or adjudicative role at one time or the other to ensure the sustainability of harmony among different professions at Federal Industrial Court, Uyo. Additionally, NIC has also ensured harmony among different groups by providing adequate interpretation of status, awards, judgements, and rulings.
This study therefore proposes to examine the role of national industrial court in the settlement of labour disputes in Nigeria judicial sector. Also, it will examine the role National industrial Court has previously played and can still play futuristically to enhance the desired industrial harmony in Federal Industrial Court, Uyo, the entire judicial sector and other sectors in Nigeria.
The major challenge faced by organizations in developing the strategies to be used for conflict management and resolution is that of catching conflict young. Conflicts situations are frequently allowed to develop to almost unmanageable proportions before anything is done about them by which time it is often too late to resolve them by peaceful and procedural means.
Normative and descriptive researches are the two major research approaches of human behavior in organizations. Normative research is concerned with how things should be, whereas descriptive research addresses itself to what it is rather than what could or should be. This dual perspective is most apparent in approaches to the issues of conflict management in organizations. Normative approach therefore shows attitudes and beliefs that establish all conflict as destructive and however give room for conflict elimination as the formula for organizational success.
Descriptive approach is based on the opinion that conflict is inevitable and considers its proper management the primary responsibility of all managements of every organization. This study is however tilted to the descriptive mode of inquiry in presenting a framework for the study of strategies for managing industrial conflicts in an organization. However, it goes beyond this domain in suggesting that managements of every organization must take the offensive and seek to manage conflict, and also in advocating that traditional methods of dealing with conflict be replaced by a new and more sophisticated approach for better organizational performance.
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective of this study is to examine the role of national industrial court in the settlement of labour disputes in Nigeria by using Federal Industrial Court, Uyo as a case study. However, the specific objectives are:
To understand the importance of the national industrial court to the labour union in NigeriaTo determine the effectiveness of the mechanism of Trade Disputes Settlement in Nigeria.To find out the prospects of industrial relations in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
The research questions to be provided answers to are:
What is the importance of the national industrial court to the labour union in Nigeria?What is the effectiveness of the mechanism of Trade Disputes Settlement in Nigeria?What are the prospects of industrial relations in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research hypotheses for this study are:
There is a significant relationship between national industrial court and labour dispute settlementThere is no significant correlation between the mechanism of trade disputes settlement and industrial harmony
1.6 Significance of the Study
A study on the role of national industrial court in the settlement of labour disputes in Nigeria is of great significance given the consequences of such disputes on the economic development of the nation. In other sense therefore, the study provides information for understanding how most conflicts arise in industrial establishment and degenerate into industrial disputes. It also provides information on effective negotiation procedure and disputes resolutions between various parties in labour relations. Furthermore, the employers, government, employees and the society at large also stand to benefit from this work, in that relative industrial peace in the economy will no doubt guarantee a steady supply of goods and services at an affordable price and consequently prevent social unrest. This work is equally beneficial because it provides additional reference material for students, lawyers, parties in industrial relations and the interested public.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study is restricted to the role of national industrial court in the settlement of labour disputes in Nigeria. A trade dispute is very wide area in law. There are a lot of legal instruments, institutional mechanisms, and case laws as well as policy framework at the national level to regulate trade disputes in labour relation in Nigeria. Specifically, the study will examine the role of national industrial court in the settlement of labour disputes in Nigeria. Though, territorially the study is limited to the Labour Union of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, reference is made to other jurisdictions for guidance, where necessary.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
Financial constraints posed a major problem/limitation during the investigation. The researcher would have wanted to carry on the same type of investigation in other enterprise but for financial constraints. Time was another limitation encountered during the course of the study.
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