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The broad objective of this work is to Appraise Industrial conflict in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions with a particular reference to Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu. The study investigated the causes and management of Industrial conflict in the institution and how such conflicts are managed by labour and management. The study employed the survey research method, which was adopted in eliciting information through questionnaire. The population used for the study comprised academic and non-academic staff of the institute totaling four hundred and sixty-eight (468).  The sample size was two hundred and sixteen (216) staff out of 468, which was drawn using Yaro Yamani’s formular for determining sample size.  Questionnaire and interview were the main research techniques adopted for data collection. Three hypothesis were formulated to guide the study.  Data were also collected from both primary and secondary sources.  The data collected were analysed using percentage distribution and chi-square at 0.05 level of significance were used to test the hypotheses.  The major findings of the study revealed that the causes of industrial conflicts are mostly as a result of poor remunerative structure, poor communication network between the labour and the management, denial of promotions, poor working conditions and management interference in the union activities. Others are dispute arising from non-payment of salary and fringe benefits. It was concluded that conflicts of interest are inevitable between management and labour. Thus, there is need to pay serious attention to the causes of industrial conflicts to prevent the occurrence.  Based on the findings, the study recommends that both the management and labour unions should be partners in progress for better understanding and smooth administration of the institution.  Thus, there should be improvement of communication network between labour and management. Staff welfare and other necessary staff demands should be unanimously tackled by the management and labour unions and dialogue should be adopted while resolving conflict in the institution. Finally, management is advised not to involve themselves in the activities of the labour union in the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.


 An organisation can achieve its objectives only if its members cooperate and coordinate their efforts toward a common goal.  For this to occur, everyone must subordinate a degree of individual and personal freedom to the organisation.  Such behaviour is not achieved, however without a struggle and therefore the possibility of conflict and conflict situations. 

 Life generally is full of conflict. Conflict cannot be ruled out in people’s life.  Conflicts are found in families, organistions, nations, market places and even along the streets.

                Conflict is widely seen as one of the persistent problems in

organisational life.  The fact of its centrality is indicated by the fact that even in organisations where it appears to have been eliminated like Japanese firms and ‘high tech’ companies, there still exists high level of work pressure and a tendency for conflict and tensions to be internalized within employees, rather than being expressed as open disputes between management/leadership and the worker (Eze, 1997). Thus, people who claim that conflict can be eliminated misunderstand how organisations work. 

 A conflict arises within an organisation when one or more of its members (individuals, groups or network of groups) covertly or overtly oppose another member or group.  Their goals, desire and interests are not only unharmonious; they may also be incompatible (Akpala, 1990).

 The history of the colonial state and industrial conflicts and industrial relations dates back to the period of the European rivalries before and during the 1884/85 Berlin West African Conference, which consequently led to the well known scramble for African territories.  Thus in 1860 and 1910 Lagos was cease by Britain, by 1862 most of Africa and Nigeria were in military occupation following the pacification exercise (Otobo, 1992).  As a result of this, indigenous political authorities lost their sovereignties and were subjected to colonial administration. This occupation greatly accelerated the creation of Nigeria Wage Labour Force and Conflicts.  Thereafter as a result of the conscription of workers to be engaged in the construction of infrastructural facilities mostly in the building of houses, construction of roads, bridges, ports, railways and other works of public importance (Ejiofor and Aniagbo, 1984).

 The colonial Industrial Relations policies in Nigeria implied the attempt by the colonial administration to regulate employment and establish control over work processes.  The creation of Wage Labour Force was to meet the commercial needs of both local and European interest.  The creation of Labour Force and the creation of various indigenous communities to official policies along with the activities of the private employers and also the pressure from the White Hall in London instigated the colonial government to promulgate colonial labour policies for dealing with employers operating in various communities in the colonies, and hence the development of industries relations and conflicts management techniques in the colonial territories.

 The basis of the colonial state labour policies was laid after Lagos became a colony in 1900.  Labour became a reserved problem to the colonial office in several ways.  As a result of widespread slave trading which made it difficult to create a labour market and to develop a stable labour force to secure a ready market for imported consumer goods and wares to generate conditions favourable for colonial trade and other commercial activities of increasing importance to both the metropolitan business circle and the European national rivalries. 

 Military approach was adopted for the conscription of people into labour gangs, army platoons and battalions (Akpala, 1990). The immediate objective was for the construction of roads and rail lines.  This class of labour was officially regarded as casual, temporary with no wage paid; accommodation was not provided, work was regarded as a duty despite element of compulsion in the recruitment of labourers, such labourers were expected to return to their houses at the end of the day.  Such a system could not cope with laying of lines across the country, and other activities for the colonial government across the far uninhabited land.  This tendency produced mass desertions, agitation and often open revolt which forced the colonial government into the introduction of wages, such wages were too low but upsetting to the colonial officials who had grown used to utilizing forced indigenous labour without pay.  This was the genesis of labour conflict in the colonial labour circle Halimatu (2002) also stated that little was known about specific policies of consultation or negotiation inside and outside the public administration at the time of such processes as existed seemed to have been related with European affairs whose condition of service and terms were settled by the council office in London. 

 This condition contrasted sharply with those of the indigenous African public servants.  Ubeku (1975) accounts that the procedures adopted surprisingly sophisticated in the colonial territory suited the colonial officials as it was intensively administered, was the beginning source of labour conflict in the colony. 

 Other factors that promoted labour conflict are the issues of how the general population of Africans lived in slums, including the few African civil servants, thus differentials in housing policy, fringe benefits that provide strong grounds for agitation by the press, professional classes and the nationalist of every kind between the colonial officials, government, Africans and nationalist. 

 The most celebrated case was the 1891 strike by the staff of the Public Works Department (PWD) whose salary was unceremoniously slashed over night by the Governor who considered the low wage still high (Ubeku, 1975).  This low wages were systematically rationalized in respect of labourers and forced labour, when mass desertions, compelled private and state authorities to pay token wages. 

 Labour conflict began as communal protests by temporary stoppages of work embarked upon by identified group of workers, such as the labourers.

 Fajana (1995) noted that these strikes escalated and generalized into African protest against colonial administration and European private employers; for instance, the eminent strikes of 1897 and 1947 by employees of United African Company in Burutu.  In 1945 local coal miners’ protests in Enugu were good examples.  Another type of conflict resulted from the nature of work and manner of recruitment of labour to the highhandedness of physical supervision, which was induced by the forced labour policy all over the colony. 

 Labour conflict moved from 30 cases in 1956/57 to 49 cases in 1957/58 and further to 53 in 1958/59 with corresponding increase in loss of resources (Imaga, 1990).  Demachi (1989) contends that disputes between 1955/56 and 1958/59 led to the loss of a total of 974, 095 mandays to strike in Nigeria.

 In 1982, a total of 8,221, 761man days were lost to strikes involving 756,394 workers.   Respectively, Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) went on strike for four and six months in 1993 and 1994 to push government to implement the 1992 ASUU Federal Government Agreement (Egbokhare, 2001).

 Industrial conflict in Nigerian tertiary institutions are not peculiar to Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu but such that bedeviled the management and administrative set up of other tertiary institutions in Nigeria. 

 These problems were envisaged at University of Nigeria Nsukka between the management and students over increase in school fees from 2009-2010, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede 2001-2002 between the Student Union Government and Management on the welfare of students and Federal Polytechnic, Idah 2002-2004 over the issue of staff welfare and so on.

               In the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu, we

discovered during the pilot study that some of the problems of industrial conflicts, which was discussed verbally by the staff of the institution were as follows:

*                    State interference in education 

*                    Overbearing influence of government in the appointment of Rector and Council Chairman and management interference in

union activities.

 These and other allied factors culminated into investigating the above problems.


 Tertiary institutions are formal organizations with special goals of channeling and shaping the destiny of mankind.  Through teaching, research and public service (Obani, 1995), they produce individuals who through their intellectual contributions to society better the lots of mankind (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2000). These goals are accomplished through human cooperative action (Onah, 2005), between management and staff (academic and non-academic).  Some shared and opposed interests are found when workers and management work together.  Those shared enhance industrial harmony and peace, while those opposed generate industrial conflict (Crouch, 1977).  Differences between workers and management in terms of goals, needs, talents, skills, status, competencies, perception, aggressiveness and other diverse features of members of organization makes conflict inevitable (Umoren, 2001, Jaja and Umezuruike, 2004).

 The failure in management is attributable to poor management of industrial conflicts within the organization.  We are in ever-changing economic, technology, social and political era in which conflict has become inevitable in a dynamic organization. 

Change and economic growth bring opportunity but they also bring risk particularly in an era of world wide rivalry for market resources and influence. 

In Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, the causes of industrial conflict is as a result of non-payment of salaries and fringe benefits as and when due, strikes, lay-offs, denial of promotion, dispute settlement procedures and so on.  It is therefore the task of management and labour to minimize risk involved in conflicts while taking advantage of the opportunities they provide. 

The central questions that will, therefore forms, the basis of this study are:

1.                 What are the immediate causes of poor management  approach on industrial conflict between the workers (labour) and management (organisation) in Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu?

2.                 How were the conflicts managed by the labour on one hand and the management on the other hand? 

3.                 To what extent has the management of these conflicts affected the morale of workers needed in enhancing their performances.

Attempts to provide answers to these questions and suggest measures for possible solutions for any future conflicts constitute the basic research problems of the study.


 The general objective of this study is to find out how industrial conflicts are managed in Nigerian tertiary institutions with emphasis on Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.

          The specific objectives of the study are, therefore:

1.                 To examine the causes of industrial conflict between the workers and management in the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.

2.                 To appraise the management of conflict as it affect the morale of workers.

3.                 To investigate how conflicts are managed between the two bodieslabour and management; 

4.                 To suggest remedies to the problems emanating from the research findings and make appropriate recommendations.


 This research work was directed toward testing of the following hypotheses. Therefore, the following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study;

Hypothesis I

Ho: The management of labour conflicts in the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu is not as a result of the management’s refusal to meet up with the workers welfare needs.

Hi:     The management of labour conflicts in the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu is as a result of the management’s refusal to meet up with the workers welfare needs.  Hypothesis II

Ho: The labour leaders and top management’s handling of the labourmanagement conflicts do not reduce conflicts.

Hi: The labour leaders and top management’s handling of the labourmanagement conflicts reduces conflicts.

Hypothesis III

Ho: Improper management of conflicts does not result to low morale of the workers.

Hi:     Improper management of conflicts result to low morale of the workers.


 With the rising wave of industrial conflicts in the country in recent times and its attendant negative effects, an in-dept study of the problems becomes necessary.  It is therefore hoped that the results of the study will have the potentiality of redirecting management’s attention to some of its rigid features with a view to correcting some of its inherent deficiencies in them, which contributed to and constituted the labour/management conflicts in the study area.

 The evaluation of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in relation to its employers will in essence be useful, as it will reveal areas of weaknesses that should be improved as well as areas of power or strength that should be encouraged for effective and efficient management of an impending danger that may result to conflicts in the areas of work.

 The findings and recommendations of the study will also be significant as they will contribute and generate further research interest in the areas of labour/management conflicts and conflicts as a whole.   Finally, an effective research into this area of work and consequent prescriptions for the problems that may be made in the research findings will not only improve the proper handling of industrial conflicts in the federation, but will also help to reduce the numerous problems which create the gap between labour and the management in carrying out their responsibilities.  It will also stimulate further researches into conflict and its management not only in tertiary institutions but also in other government and non-governmental



 Kaplan, (1980) contends that a theory is a systematically organized knowledge of varying levels of generalization with a view to the eventual specification or relationships among empirical tests.

 According to him, the test of a theory is the degree to which its formulation seems congruent with our own perception of the real world situation.  Therefore a theory equips us with a way of looking at reality. 

 In the light of the forgoing, we can define theoretical framework as a broad umbrella made up of theoretical postulations (theories, perspective, models or paradigms) that researchers or writers can utilize as guides for understanding or analyzing a reality or phenomenon under study.  For the purpose of this study, the general systems approach was adopted. Systems analysis is a part of the behaviouralist movement in political science, which had been growing in various America

universities, starting with the University of Chicago-as a reaction to the traditionalist approach.  It was in this search for theory-building that scholars like David Easton, Ludwig Von Bertanaffy, a Biologist, Morton, Kaplan, Karl Deutsch, Stanley Holfmann, Charles McClelland to quote a few developed the system model (Verma, 1975). System theory was popularized in political science by David Easton (a Political Scientist).  In recent times, the systems theory has become as increasingly useful framework for thinking about organizations and managerial functions. Organizations, like the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu are open systems with certain boundaries that differentiate it from other systems. It must constantly receive multitude of inputs from its external environment (people, form, input,

information) in order to achieve its objectives. 

                Therefore, to survive and prosper, an organization must be

productive.  It must return to its external environment certain outputs in order to justify its existence and get the support it needs.

 The system theory is an analytical tool, which enables theorists and researchers to study key elements of organizations in terms of their interaction with one another and with their external environment.  Social systems are always open systems with inputs, outputs, and conversion process.  In relation to an organization, inputs refer to people, materials, information and finance.  These inputs are organized and activated so as to convert human skills and raw materials into products, services and other outputs, which are discharged into the environment. 

 It is important to state here that the research, which is focused on “Management of Industrial Conflict in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions” is of vital importance in the study of the relationship between labour conflict and management. The institution is an organization, a system within a larger system of its environment.  The workers, the sub-units and labour union within the organization constitute the internal environment of the organization.

 The system theory as a framework for the study of management of industrial conflict in Nigerian tertiary institutions enables us to understand and explain how environmental factors (like conflict) affect the internal working of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu and how this could bring about the collapse of the system.

Fig. 1 The System Approach to Organization

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