CU Don Gives Recipe For Harmony In Industrial Relations
Only strict adherence to rules, laws and labour policies in industrial relations by all stakeholders can guarantee harmony in employment relationships in Nigeria, a Professor of Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at Covenant University has advocated.
Delivering his speech at the 6th Inaugural Lecture of Covenant University, with the topic, ‘Bastardisation of the Templates of Industrial Relations Practice in Nigeria: All Actors in Employment Relationships are Accusative and Censurable’, Professor Olufemi Adeyeye said lack of faithfulness to the templates of industrial relations by government, employers, workers and the society has proved detrimental to the progress of the respective groups of stakeholders and Nigeria as a nation.
“Actors in industrial relations are expected to comply with the rules for employment relationships to endure and be free of bastardisation,” said Professor Adeyeye. “But the industrial relations is bastardised when the actions and activities of the actors run foul of the rules guiding the relationships.
“Employers can behave unethically and without regard to the code of conduct of a particular enterprise as can the employees and the agencies of the state. In other words, every actor in employment relationships had been found guilty of non-compliance with the rules of the game at one time or another.
“Hence all actors in employment relationships can be accused of bastardisation in industrial relations.”
Citing the issue of justice and safety at work as an example, Professor Adeyeye said despite the Factories Acts enacted in 1958 and amended in 1987, an employee by name Alexandria Ossai was brutalized by her foreign employer for an offence that should routinely attract a query, in a case that symbolizes the predicament of Nigerian workers in many foreign organisations operating in Nigeria.
Nigerian governments, he argued, had made nonsense of the principle of collective bargaining and dispute settlement as they more often than not fail to honour their own agreement with labour, thereby setting poor standards for employers in the private sector.
On the issue of rights and duties of parties, he said: “Despite the fact that employees are expected by contract of employment to render faithful service to their employers, the case of the Police and Railway Corporation pension scams are examples of open manifestation of the acts of bastardisation of Nigerian workers.
“Pension funds were misappropriated by officials of the State whose responsibilities were to safeguard the pensioners’ economic future.”
Bastardisation of employment relationships by the stakeholders, he emphasized, has stagnated national development and affected the psychology and the moral upbringing of Nigerians, particularly the youth.
To stem the tide of bastardisation, Professor Adeyeye said, “The Government, who is the major employer of labour, should be faithful to its statutory role of an impartial arbiter who should not meddle unnecessarily in the dispute resolution procedures and must demonstrate more sincerity in collective bargaining procedures.
“The extant labour laws from the factories act and Trade Disputes Act to the Employee’s Compensation Act should be reviewed and be applied in sanctioning erring employers and employees.
“Employers of labour must ensure that a conducive atmosphere is provided for all, and salaries and wages are paid to workers for work done without excuses.
“Also, employees, individually and collectively, must ensure that duties and responsibilities to their employers are carried out faithfully and with reasonable commitments.”
The Inaugural Lecture, which had in attendance the Senate of Covenant University led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charles Ayo, including students and staff of the school, also attracted dignitaries from outside, such as a former Minister of External Affairs Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi and a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe among others.
The Education Secretary of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, Professor Bridget Sokan, who stood in for the CU Chancellor Dr. David Oyedepo at the event, congratulated Professor Adeyeye for his “brilliant erudition”, saying that “it will make employers responsible to the demands of laws and live up to their responsibilities”.
“Local companies in Nigeria maltreat workers. We have learned a lot from this lecture and it will challenge us to ask questions,” she added.
Professor Ibidapo-Obe, who eulogized CU for its great accomplishments since inception, said he had listened to a very great lecture. “I ask myself, who is not bastardised in this country, including negotiation? I wish more academic lecturers will come up and tell us what is bastardised and proffer solutions,” he stated.
On his part, Professor Akinyemi expressed worry about petition writing and that both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have not been given the mandate to adjudicate on issues emanating from the Industrial Court.
“If we are not careful, petition writing will lead to indiscipline. Most of these petitions are written without concrete evidence and nothing done to those who actually sponsored petitions,” Akinyemi noted.