Industrial relation is the relationship between employers and employees and is one of the critical aspects of achieving productivity in the workplace.
When there is a cordial relationship between the employee and employers, it will improve the level of productivity in the country and reflect on the economic growth.
Whether in the private or public sector, there is a compelling need for both employers and employees to have a harmonious industrial relationship that will enhance development.
Any self-centred approach in the relationship will create unhealthy competition, wastage, and lack of productivity in the workplace.
This development can also lead to socio-economic and political crises. To this end, there is a need for industrial harmony in every system to avoid strikes, redundancy, retrenchment and other challenges in the place of work.
As Nigeria joins the global community to mark this year’s workers’ day, with the theme: “act together to build a positive and healthy culture”.
It is pertinent for both employers of labour and union leaders to realise that the essence of a cordial relationship is to promote productivity and development through human efforts.
This cannot be achieved without peace and harmony in all human activities. There is a need for employees who are represented by the labour leaders to ensure that the demand of various unions and workers is met.
Labour unions should not be quick to embark on strikes as proper dialogue and negotiation must be made to exploit various avenues before embarking on any industrial action.
Unions should always ensure that there is a harmonious relationship with employers to promote the welfare of workers. There is a need for transparency on the part of the employers of labour, especially at the negotiation table, where agreements between the employers and employees are reached.
A situation where basic facts that can promote harmonious relationships, are hidden from the employees, can lead to a lack of trust and conflicts in the workplace.
Based on these, it is necessary that unsustainable agreements between labour and employers of labour especially in the public sector are reviewed to forestall some of the protracted strikes and unending demands of workers calling for fulfilment of agreements which in most cases have lasted over two decades.
The parties involved should develop new templates for the relationship. For instance, the agreement between government at various levels and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Nigerian Medical Association, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, just to mention but a few.
While the incumbent argues that most agreements were reached by the previous administration and should have been fulfilled by the then administrations, workers represented by the labour leaders are bent on ensuring that such agreements are met no matter the time lag and the difficulties surrounding their implementation.
This situation if not holistically and transparently handled will continue to retard productivity and hamper service delivery.
This is because, over the years, the remedies put forward towards resolving some of the industrial disputes have been temporary measures, which only lasted for a short time.
Hence the need for the review of sustainable agreements for a clean slate of agreement, between the employers and employees especially in the public sector.
It is hoped that with concerted efforts by all stakeholders towards ensuring harmonious industrial relations, workers in Nigeria will have a course to smile.
Writing by Chikezie Chinkata, of our Abuja Operations; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino