The essence of trade unionism according to Webb and Webb (1920:67-72) has always been to maintain or improve the wage and other working conditions of their members. The need for a collective approach to human problems gave birth to trade unionism. It has grown with human organization; rarely can one see any contemporary establishment without organized bodies of workers. The reason is not far from the fact that it is easier for workers to secure the attention and sympathy of management while acting as a group than as individuals unionism is now common place in every establishment world-wide.
The local government, which is the third tier of government in Nigeria, is not left out in our formation of workers/unions. The Nigeria union of local government employee (NULGE), is a body that unify all the local government employees. It was in 1978, according to Agalamanyi (2004:4) that the present body Nigeria union of local government employee (NULGE) was formed. The union is affiliated to the Nigeria labour congress (NLC) through the efforts of local government workers. Its aim is to protect the workers from exploitation and most importantly, to defend the workers’ rights in such issues as participation in decision making, creation of relationship between labour and management, adequate pay etc.
In fact, the formation of trade unions has been a universal reaction to the instability and degradation of wage employment between government and labour. The union remains the typical and universal organization of the workers, the umbrella of protection, lobbying, influencing and advancing their welfare, rights or interest of the workers.
However, due to the divergent interest between the workers and management, conflictsis a common features of government/labour relations in Nigeria.
According to Marx (1955), trade unionism is born out of the struggle between wage earners and employees referring to this struggle between wage earners and employees as classes, Marx (1955) has the view that technical progress (the rise of machines) has concentrated the social means of production under the ownership of capitalist who thus become absolute masters. The labourers of course remains a freeman, but having lost the means of production, which he had as a maters of labour during the handicraft age and industry, his freedom, is only an illusion and his bargaining power is no greater than if he were a slave. Therefore, labour union movement is a product of the historic struggle against age long exploitation of the working people by the properties class, the reactionary bourgeoisie.
The primary concern of any establishment is to achieve the goals for which its was set up. Nevertheless, the achievement of the goals depends largely on the maximum exploitation of the human and materials resources of the establishment. But the full utilization of the human resources of any establishment depends mainly on the kind of relationship existing between labour and management. As a matter of fact, the types of industrial development in any establishment determine the extent to which the establishment will tap its human resource in order to achieve its objective.
According to Vgruja (1993), planning and exploitation of both natural and human resource cannot be conducted properly, if this relationship between labour and management is hinged on conflict or un-harmony.
Research have shown that it is often conflict because the interests of both the union members and the management are not completely mutual. Besides, the depends of the labour and management are more or less unlimited. It is also conflict because of the dynamic nature of both the industrial and developing societies and also the need for management and labour to disagree and act on the disagreement if both are to retain their industrial identities. The relationship could on the other hand harmonious since both must coexist to ensure the survival of the system. The main motive of both parties is for the advancement of the system since only this can be beneficial to both parties.
This research therefore is designed to find out the relationship between Nigeria union of local government employees (NULGE) and the performance of local government in Nigeria. In other words, the study is carried out to find how the local government union affects the day to day running of local government system.
We shall be looking at the relationship existing between the chairman and councils and local government workers with special focus on Yenagoa local government areas of Bayelsa state. Yenagoa local government area is among the seven hundred and seventy four (774) constitutionally recognized councils in Nigeria. Gbarain Ekpetiama Development councils is part of Yenagoa local government areas respectively. This is part of the efforts of the various state governments towards developing the rural areas. Yenagoa local government area coordinates the development council from Yenagoa.
The local government system which is recognized in the constitution as the third tier of government with substantial authority, functions and statutory allocation of revenue has been be divided by many forms of problems. These problems have affected its ability to perform its primary assignments. The most notable of these problems according to Clark (2004:19-23) is the conflict between the management of local government authority and the organized labour union the Nigeria union of local government employees (NULGE)”, this is not far from the fact that the problems of labour management relations has been the subject of popular discussion in various circles today in Nigeria. Many are worried about the causes of labour management conflict and which industries are mostly affected. Since efficient in Nigeria and meaningful productivity in the local government has become a matter of concern for both government and the general public, care must therefore, be taken to check bad industrial relations existing in it.
This is very important since it will help to discover the reason for the seemingly strained relationship between Nigeria union of local government employee (NULGE) and local government authorities in Nigeria, with particular focus on Yenagoa local government areas of Bayelsa state. Most of the conflicts have to do with welfare matters. The issues like nonpayment of salaries and other benefits have been the issues of the strained relationship between the union and management. As a matter of facts, by late 2003, the workers were forced to seek divine help as they gathered for right vigil prayers concerning their salaries. This is a serious problems, as many of them are owned months of arrears of salaries and entitlement. As a result, the morale of workers towards work is now low. This has forced many to take to other jobs to survive. Other who have the courage and wanted to withdraw their commitment to further their education are doing so. They do this as they watch what happens next.
This ugly development is seriously affecting the overall development and performance of the local government councils.
It is against these background that this study is designed to evaluate the impact of trade union activities (in a bid to fight for the rights of their members) and the performances of local government councils in Nigeria.
Our focus is on Yenagoa Local Government Areas and Gbarain –Ekpetiama Development Council of Bayelsa State.
This research will be pre-occupied with the following objectives
The following researches questions are designed to assist the researcher achieve her objectives:
The study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, this study will add to the body of knowledge by enriching the existing literature on the subject of trade unionism in Nigeria, especially, in the local government in Nigeria, it will also be a useful literature to industrial relations practitioner. The study hopes to serves as a useful literature base to management students both post graduates and undergraduates, as it will serve as a useful material in their studies or research related topics.
The study will also be of practical use of the general public as well as individuals who wish to have an understanding of Nigeria union of local government in Nigeria. The study will help both the management and workers in the local government system in Nigeria on how best to relate in order avoid unnecessary crisis. The study will also intervene on the present ongoing clamor on whether to scrap the local government system in Nigeria or not. It will help the government on how to play her role very well in case of any disagreement between employees and employers. It will help the leader and followers in the enhancement of their union. Finally, the policy makers and other interest group will benefit immensely from the finding and recommendation of the work.
The scope of this study is Yenagoa local government of Bayelsa State.
However, the findings of this study can be generalized in all the seven hundred and seventy four (774) local government areas in Nigeria.’
There is no research without a hindrance. This is not an exceptional. The problems of information dissemination was one the major problems of this study. Finance and time are also limitations of the study. Finance is critical to the operation of councils and the wide range of services they deliver. The time in which the research is been carried out is also a limitation of the study. Also transportation was a problem because of the terrain of the state.
In this research, it will be important to defined key terms that will be featuring in this study, they include the following:
Bourgeoisie: This is the class of modern capitalist owners of the means of production and employers of wage labour
Collective Bargaining: This is an avenue through which the conflicts between labour unions and the government (management) over a disputed matter is discussed by both parties and collective agreement arrived at, for the reconciliation of both interests
Contracts of Employment: It is an undertaking by a person to serve another person and to obey the reasonable order within the scope of the duty he or she has undertaken. The conditions and terms of engagement normally defined the scope of the contracts.
Employer: This is the person who receives services of a workers and pays wages or salary for the services so received.
Worker (employee): A worker or an employee is any person who has agreed to render services to another and in the process of rendering this services, to obey his employer and to submit to his instruction and directives for remuneration called a wage.
Labour Management Relation: it refers in this study to the type of interaction existing between workers and the management. This relationship could be conflictual or harmonious.
Labour Unrest: labour unrest occurs when there is a serious disagreement with management over an issues that bothers on the workers welfare.
Local Government: it is the act of management of people and resources at the third tier of government in Nigeria. It is the overall process of doing things at the grass roots level of government.
Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE): according to Ozor (2003:116), the Nigeria union of local government employees(NULGE) is an umbrella organization championing the cause, welfare and interest of all workers employed in the local government in Nigeria.
Proletariat (Working Class) it means the class modern wage labourers who have no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live.
Strike: It means a collective stopping of work initiated by workers as means of pressurizing their employers over a demand.
Trade Disputes: it means any dispute between employers and workers or between workers and workers or between trade unions and management, which is related to the employment, terms of employment or conditions of work of any person or the rights and welfare of the Nigeria workers.
Trade union: trade union is an association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment.
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