Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Who is to Blame for Incessant Strikes of Workers?

Thirty-five year old Opeyemi Sonekan (not real name) was very heavy and in labour pains. She registered for anti-natal care at the government owned hospital in an urban city of Lagos State. It was her first pregnancy. The expectant mother was optimistic, hoping for a safe delivery. At least, her younger sister who was delivered of a baby six months earlier had assured her of the competence and effectiveness of the medical staff at the hospital. She could not hold back her joy and her family went wild with jubilation after a safe delivery.

But her joy translated into sorrow as the baby suddenly developed fever on the day she was to be discharged. Nurses on ground couldn’t help the situation. “Please call the doctor”! Please call the doctor!! She repeated out of confusion.

“Madam, the doctors are on strike. None is around for now” replied one of the nurses. Three hours later, her bundle of joy died, why me? Where do I start from? She screamed uncontrollably.

With swollen eyes, she looked with disdain the new maternity edifice equipped with latest gadgets erected by the Governor as she dejectedly walked out of the hospital complex.

It was obvious that the structure now meant nothing to her. These are some of the dire consequences of incessant strikes by various labour unions. However, well informed individuals are not in a hurry to blame the unions for embarking on strikes.

As pressure groups, the unions remain the voice of the downtrodden. They remain the only organ of the society consistently resisting dictatorship, tyranny, foot-dragging of our justice system, lack of accountability and other social vices.

It is no news that the handicap of Nigeria as a nation is the result of ruinous leadership. Bodies like the EFCC, ICPC, etc, with mandate to checkmate these vices are puppets of pretentious heads at the realm of affairs.

Acceptance of the union as a legal component of the community is key to peaceful co-existence. Speed is imperative for today’s business of governance. Rapid response to agitations of the union is a proactive measure to forestall strikes by the union. Strike action is always the last option of the union and it is a clear signal of a breakdown in negotiation between the parties or a pointer to total neglect of series of appeal by the union.

Clamour for the welfare of her members and the society at large, adherence to the rule of law, coupled with unfaithfulness to signed agreements are always at the centre of any struggle.

Superior arguments, collective bargaining, readiness to shift ground during negotiation by the government, functional council that is always ready to dialogue with administration of institution and labour unions at regular intervals and compliance with the books for running each institutions are genuine ways to end incessant strikes.

Collective bargaining is more than negotiations but doggedly sustaining social dialogue. It creates an equal voice for employers and workers with fair and equitable outcomes. Recognizing dialogue as a factor contributing to sound industrial relation which will prevent deadly labour disputes is the only roadmap to social development. The Global Jobs Pact (GJP) of the International Labour Conference of 2009 reinstates right to collective bargaining as element to douse industrial tension. Therefore, negotiation and collective bargaining are the mean, mode and median for resolving confrontation with the unions.

Fidelis Temitope Oluwunmi