Keywords: Goals; stirkes; achievement; industrial conflict
The work environment generally is a collectivity of various individuals and groups from different cultural, social, political and economic backgrounds. Given this scenario, the interests and expectations of workmen from their organizations is bound to differ. Workers collective interest is however, given expression through workers organization¾the trade union. The pursuit of workers rights and interests in the work place particularly in Nigeria, is constrained by unequal distribution of both political and economic powers between labour and owners of enterprises. Negotiations and collective bargaining as activities of industrial relations became very necessary following the disagreement between management and workers (employers and employees), on matters pertaining to either policy formulation on the welfare of workers in an organization, or workers participation in decision making process on matters that border on their interest and welfare. Diejomaoh (1979), argues that even when workers organizations officially obtain registration and recognition from both government and their respective managements, agitations for improved conditions and input to decision is still considered as dysfunctional.
Agitations by workers unions for improved conditions of service and other welfare packages are almost always not in consonance with the interest and expectations of employers-the very foundation of industrial conflicts. To register their resentment over management show of superiority and insensitivity to workers plight, organized labour in the recent past have resorted to the use of various pressure tactics ranging from strike actions, picketing, boycotts, overtime ban, intimidation, active non-compliance (ANC) and a host of others. Thus, industrial conflict has become a recurring issue in all sectors of the Nigerian economy including the educational sub-sector with attendant negative consequences for various stakeholders.
Statement of the problem
unwilling workers to increase their productivity to enable organizations achieve their goals.
Educational sub-sector, specifically tertiary institutions in Nigeria and the Cross River State in particular, have been recording series of industrial unrests in the recent past. The effects of repeated and abrupt closure of universities due to industrial bluffs on academic programmes and the goal for which they were established can better be imagined. The University of Calabar and Cross River University of Technology; the major tertiary institutions in the State have suffered tremendous setbacks as a result of incessant workers action. This problem is underscored by the fact that unions in the two institutions operate in accordance with directives from their respective National Executive Councils (NEC).
Educational standard is now believed to be questionable. Many an academic calendar in the universities has been disorganized, with some academic sessions outrightly lost. Students’ academic performances have comparatively taken a nose dive, while various forms of examination malpractices are said to be on the increase. The situation has assumed such an alarming dimension that the public now accuses the ‘ivory towers’ of turning out graduates that are ill-equipped in character and learning to contribute to the growth and development of the nation. This paper tries to identify the factors responsible for the prevalence of industrial conflicts in tertiary institutions, the impact; negative or otherwise of these job actions, and measures that could possibly be put in place to arrest the malady.
In a bid to further examine the fundamental causes of industrial disharmonies and their effects on organizational goal-attainment, and to achieve the other objectives of this study, two hypotheses have been formulated thus:
This study is particularly significant as it was conducted at a time when almost all the unions in the universities are threatening another round of job actions if their demands are not met.
Conflict can be both positive and negative as argued by Mullins (1996). He contends that although the traditional view associates the concept with negative features and situation which give rise to ineffectiveness or dysfunctional consequences, conflict is not necessarily a bad thing because it can be a catalyst for improvements in an organization when well managed.
In an industrial relation system, conflicts arise between workers and managers chiefly because of their differing ideologies and opposing interests. Conflict of this nature was defined by Kornhauser, Dubin and Rose (1954:13) to be “… the total range of behaviour and attitudes that express opposition and divergent orientations between individual owners and managers on the one hand, and the working people and their organization on the other”. This view suggests that industrial conflict is group-related and collective; although literature expressing a wider perspective of the phenomenon abound. Otobo (2000) presents a more realistic approach that industrial conflict reflects the height of inability of the parties in the industrial relations system; employers, employees and even the state to reach agreement on any issue connected with the object of employer - employee interaction. Expressed in
whatever form, either at individual or group level, industrial unrest has become a focal concept in industrial relations system.
Internal and external causes or sources may predispose parties in a work place to conflict orientations. Internally, industrial conflicts originate basically from the opposed nature of the interests of the employer(s) and employee(s). In the other hand, government’s industrial and economic policies, the nature of labour legislation, the behaviour of political and economic classes and national economic mismanagement are potential external causes of industrial conflicts. These views are captured variously by Hyman (1975), Hyman (1972), Obisi (1996), and Stoner (1989).
Though most labour-management conflicts and workplace conflicts are considered tractable, creative management efforts is still required to avert the adverse effects that this may portend for the achievements of organizational goals. A study conducted by Okotoni and Okotoni (2003) on conflict management in secondary schools in Osun state, Nigeria, clearly underscored the impact of conflict on organization goals-attainment. The result of the study shows among other things, disruption in academic calendar and programmes, hostility, suspicion and withdrawal from school activities. On the national level, the scholars reported that government suffers from financial losses from closure of schools, while students and their parents suffer unquantifiable losses. They further submitted that the above anomaly have contributed in no small measure to a steady decline in the quality of education as some students resorted to examination malpractice to make up for the lost time during
conflicts in schools especially where these have resulted to closures
Ananaba (1969) and Offiong (1983) variously reported that the 1945 general strike in Nigeria paralyzed economic activities for about 44 days. This means that industrial actions do not only cause losses in material resources, but also result in losses in human resources. We deduce from the foregoing that negative consequences of unguarded industrial disagreement on an organization, the nation, and indeed the entire economy can be more far reaching than imagined
Marx began his assumption that economic organization, especially the ownership of property, determines the organization of the rest of the society. In other words, the most important determination of social life is the work people are doing, especially work that result in provision of the basic necessities of life, food, clothing and shelter. Marx thought that the way work is socially organized and the technology used in production have a strong impact on every other aspect of society. He maintained that every thing of value in society results from human labour. The central institution of capitalist society according to Marx is private property, a system by which capital is controlled by a small minority of the population. This arrangement leads to two opposed classes, the owners of capital (the bourgeoisie) and the workers (the proletariat) whose only property is their own labour time, which there have to sell to the capitalists. Owners are seen as making profits by paying workers less than their work is worth, thus exploiting them. Herein lies the crux of industrial conflict.
Other conflict theorists like Ralf Dahrendorf in his “ class and class conflict in industrial society” (1959), Lewis Coser (1956), Randall Collins, etc;
have made divergent contributions about the functionality of conflict which cannot be given detailed expression in a discourse of this magnitude.
A simple random sampling technique was used to select a sample of five hundred (500) respondents from both institutions. A break down of the figure shows that three hundred and fifty (350) were randomly selected from the University of Calabar, while one hundred and fifty (150) respondents were from Cross River University of Technology. The technique employed by the researcher was the hat and draw method (balloting). In this method the researcher collected staff lists from various departments and numbers were assigned to them. The researcher then wrote all the numbers on pieces of papers, roll each paper slip into a ball, mixed these paper balls in a hat and then ask one person to blindly draw the required number of departments. In a similar way the required subjects were randomly selected from various departments for the study.
A five points Likert type questionnaire ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree was the main instrument used for data collection. The scoring was done ranging from 5 points for strongly agree to 1 point for strongly disagree. The scoring was however, reversed for negativity worded items. Personal interviews were also conducted with some principal officers in both institutions. Pearson’s Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient analysis was adopted to test the hypothesis formulated thus:
r = nåxy - (åx) (åy)
Where r = correlation coefficient
Result and discussion
Table 1: Pearson’s product-moment correlation analysis of the relationship between industrial unrests and attainment of set goals
N = 500
Significant at .05, critical r =.195, df =498
The result of the analysis of hypothesis one in table 1 shows that the calculated r-value of 0.84 is greater than the critical r-value of .195 at.05 level of significance with 498 degrees of freedom. It means that the calculated r value is significant since it is higher than critical value. The result shows that there is a significant relationship between industrial unrest and attainment of set goals of tertiary institutions in Cross River State.
Table 2: Pearson’s product-moment correlation analysis of the relationship between work stoppages and students academic performance.
Significant at .05, critical r = .195, df = 498
Analysis of hypothesis two on table 2 shows that the calculated r-value of 0.78 is greater than the critical r-value of .195 at .05 level of significance with 498 degrees of freedom. Since r cal. is > r tab., the analysis is significant. The results therefore means that incessant work stoppages in the higher education sub-sector is significantly related to students’ academic performance. In other words, the more strikes are recorded in the university system, the lower the academic performance of students.
This paper has shown that there is a strong or significant relationship between industrial crises and achievement of goals of tertiary institutions in Cross River State. The finding is supported by Beach (1975) and Flippo (1980) who sees conflicts, particularly the strike as counter-productive and where possible should be avoided. Karsh (1977) reported that the consequence for a company that is unable to deliver orders for some months due to worker stoppages is a loss in several important accounts. Furthermore, Mullins (1996) observed that extreme conflict in organization could have very off setting or even tragic consequences for some people, and adverse effects on organizational performance. Intermittent disruptions of academic activities due to industrial crisis in the views of Okotoni and Okotoni (2003), negatively affects the quality of education and thus the quality of manpower available for national development. Such is the position of this paper that the quality of graduates from tertiary institutions in Cross River State and Nigeria in general will remain suspect with the recurrence of workers collective actions.
A proactive industrial relations policy should be put in place by the government to always anticipate
managing conflicts on campuses of Nigerian universities. Where the internal machinery fails,
The survival of an organization, particularly social systems like educational institutions is the responsibility of all the major stake holders. All unions in the sub-sector and management should therefore exhibit the spirit of give and take during negotiations. Attainment of lofty goals of higher educational institutions in Cross River State and the nation in general will be enhanced and falling standards shored up with a drastic reduction in industrial actions on campus. This paper consider this position realistic since conflict can not be completely eliminated.
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