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Ghana’s numerous workers strikes; a cause for concern

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It is undoubtful that the growth of every economy depends on the strength and commitment of its labour force. This therefore suggests that where the labour force is unstable with erratic performance usually marred by constant strikes, the growth of a country’s economy would be dwindling. The public sector has been characterized with strike actions following the introduction of the single spine salary structure. The first quarter of 2013 has witnessed several labour agitations mainly within the education and health sectors in Ghana. They have been asking for better conditions of service and the timely payment of arrears. Despite the role the labour force contributes to the growth of the economy, there is very little efforts from previous and succeeding governments to find lasting solution to these strike actions that occur very frequently. This study therefore, sought to contribute to knowledge about the underlying factors that cause the frequent strike actions in Ghana, some limitations of the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) and to discuss the adjudication of labour issues and resolution of labour disputes. To verify these concerns therefore, views were sampled from individuals, executives of some labour unions, the internet (ghanaweb, google, myjoyonline, citinews etc), Ghanaian newspapers and commentaries on the current labour issues in Ghana and review of some works on labour relations. Amongst the more important findings was the fact that there must be a greater awareness of worker needs, values and objectives and the best way to handle strikes is to prevent them from occurring in the first place but when they (strikes) occur, management should be more proactive to investigate and manage the grievances by instituting effective communication approaches between management and employees and constantly monitoring working conditions to see what further types of improvements could be introduced to minimize strike actions. The paper recommends that participatory management decision making processes should be applied using the Alternative Dispute Resolution process to resolve the issues emanating from the research particularly relating to workers’ strikes. Keywords: Labour force, strikes, unrest, Ghana human resource, economy, single spine salary structure.
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Merit Research Journal of Education and Review (ISSN: 2350-2282) Vol. 1(8) pp. 159-171, September, 2013
Available online http://www.meritresearchjournals.org/er/index.htm
Copyright © 2013 Merit Research Journals
Full Length Research Paper
Ghana’s numerous workers strikes; a cause for
concern
Seniwoliba A. J.
Abstract
University for Development Studies,
P. O. Box TL 1350, Tamale, Ghana.
Email: attiahjoseph@yahoo.com
It is undoubtful that the growth of every economy depends on the strength
and commitment of its labour force. This therefore suggests that where the
labour force is unstable with erratic performance usually marred by
constant strikes, the growth of a country’s economy would be dwindling.
The public sector has been characterized with strike actions following the
introduction of the single spine salary structure. The first quarter of 2013
has witnessed several labour agitations mainly within the education and
health sectors in Ghana. They have been asking for better conditions of
service and the timely payment of arrears. Despite the role the labour force
contributes to the growth of the economy, there is very little efforts from
previous and succeeding governments to find lasting solution to these
strike actions that occur very frequently. This study therefore, sought to
contribute to knowledge about the underlying factors that cause the
frequent strike actions in Ghana, some limitations of the Labour Act 2003
(Act 651) and to discuss the adjudication of labour issues and resolution of
labour disputes. To verify these concerns therefore, views were sampled
from individuals, executives of some labour unions, the internet (ghanaweb,
google, myjoyonline, citinews etc), Ghanaian newspapers and
commentaries on the current labour issues in Ghana and review of some
works on labour relations. Amongst the more important findings was the
fact that there must be a greater awareness of worker needs, values and
objectives and the best way to handle strikes is to prevent them from
occurring in the first place but when they (strikes) occur, management
should be more proactive to investigate and manage the grievances by
instituting effective communication approaches between management and
employees and constantly monitoring working conditions to see what
further types of improvements could be introduced to minimize strike
actions. The paper recommends that participatory management decision
making processes should be applied using the Alternative Dispute
Resolution process to resolve the issues emanating from the research
particularly relating to workers’ strikes.
Keywords: Labour force, strikes, unrest, Ghana human resource, economy,
single spine salary structure.
INTRODUCTION
The labour Union is a broad term for the development of
a collective organization within societies, organized for
the purpose of representing the interests of workers and
the working class, campaign for better working conditions
160 Merit Res. J. Edu. Rev.
and treatment from their employers and governments, in
particular through the implementation of specific laws
governing labour relations. Abraham Lincoln, former
President of the United States of America once stated
that, “Labour is prior to, and independent of, capital.
Capital is only the fruit of labour, and could never have
existed if labour had not first existed. Labour is the
superior of capital, and deserves much the higher
consideration”.
One significant area of economic growth is worker
(employee) satisfaction which leads to significant work
output. Where employees are satisfied with their work
conditions there would be a commensurate increase in
production. Failure of previous Governments and
succeeding Governments have failed to find lasting
solutions to the annual affair of workers strikes and
lockouts leading to the brain drain of health sector
workers and teachers. At the dawn of independence, this
problem was non-existent.
Earlier, health workers and teachers were held in high
esteem. Of late this honour accorded them is diminishing,
leading to exodus of health workers and teachers into
other sectors of the economy. Others are even leaving for
“greener pastures” (better conditions) in other countries,
which leads to “brain drain”. Spio (1999) found similar
results from permanent teachers.
Ghana in her current dispensation needs a sound
industrial relations system. A sound industrial relations
system is one in which relationships between
management and employees (and their representatives)
on the one hand, and between them and the State on the
other, are more harmonious and cooperative than
conflictual and creates an environment conducive to
economic efficiency and the motivation, productivity and
development of the employee and generates employee
loyalty and mutual trust. Industrial relations itself may
again be described as being concerned with the rules,
processes and mechanisms (and the results emanating
there from) through which the relationship between
employers and employees and their respective
representatives, as well as between them on the one
hand and the State and its agencies on the other, is
regulated.
Industrial relations seek to balance the economic
efficiency of organizations with equity, justice and the
development of the individual, to find ways of avoiding,
minimizing and resolving disputes and conflict and to
promote harmonious relations between and among the
actors directly involved, and society as a whole. The
rules, processes and mechanisms of an industrial
relations system are found in sources such as laws
(legislative, judicial, quasi-judicial), practices, customs,
agreements and arrangements arrived at through a
bipartite or tripartite process or through prescription by
the State.
Industrial relations operate at different levels - at
the national level, at the level of the industry and at the
enterprise level. The elements which reflect a sound
industrial relations system at all these levels are not
necessarily the same. At the national level industrial
relations operates so as to formulate labour relations
policy. In market economies this is usually done through
a tripartite process involving government, employers and
workers and their representative organizations. At the
industry level industrial relations often takes the form of
collective bargaining between employers' organizations
and unions. This process may result in determining
wages and other terms and conditions of employment for
an industry or sector. It may also result in arrangements
on issues which are of mutual concern such as training,
ways of avoiding or settling disputes, etc. At the
enterprise level the relationship between employers and
workers is more direct, but the interests of workers may
be represented by unions.
Employers' organizations, however, are not usually
involved (though sometimes they are when negotiations
take place between them and unions in respect of
enterprise issues) at the enterprise level in representing
the employers' interests with workers or their union, but
this does not mean that they do not have an important
promotional role at this level. Sound industrial relations at
the national level build trust and confidence between
representatives of workers and employers. Sound
relations at the enterprise level build trust and confidence
between workers and management, which is the point at
which the system must ultimately be effective.
Effectiveness at one level would naturally have some
impact on the other.
A sound industrial relations system requires a labour
management relations policy (LMRP). There are many
specific objectives of such a policy, all of which go to
make up the policy at the national level. The following are
some of the objectives, the emphasis varying from
country to country depending on the priorities and stage
of development of each of them at any given point of
time:
i. Employment and job security and increased
employment opportunities.
ii. Raising living standards through improved terms and
conditions of employment.
iii. Productivity improvement which enables employers
to be more competitive and to increase their
financial capacity to raise the living standards of the
employees.
iv. Minimizing conflict, achieving harmonious relations,
resolving conflicts through peaceful means and
establishing stable social relationships. In Western
industrialized societies "harmony" and "harmonious
relations" are not explicitly referred to either as an
objective or as a means, though basically it
represents an important objective in such societies.
However, this concept is explicitly referred to in many
Asian societies.
Development has an economic and social dimension
on the one hand and a cultural dimension on the other.
The economic and social aspects involve guiding or
influencing economic and social change in a desirable
direction. This means not only economic development
measured in terms of growth rates and per capita
incomes, but also equity in terms of income distribution
and employment opportunities, life expectancy,
population growth rates, literacy, poverty alleviation, etc.
As aptly stated by John Kenneth Galbraith "It is one of
the least advertised, and for the very affluent the least
attractive, of economic truths that a reasonably equitable
distribution of income throughout the society is highly
functional."
A sound industrial relations climate in an enterprise is
essential to a number of issues which are critical to
employers, employees and the community. The efficient
production of goods and services depends to an extent
on the existence of a harmonious industrial relations
climate. Efficiency and quality depend on a motivated
workforce, for which a sound industrial relations climate is
necessary. Productivity - a key consideration of
profitability, the ability of enterprises to grant better terms
and conditions of employment and for economic and
social development - needs a sound labour relations
base.
Productivity does not depend on individual effort
alone. Many mechanisms which contribute towards
productivity gains are workable only where there is
teamwork and cooperation e.g. small group activities,
joint consultation mechanisms. Therefore labour
management relations should be geared to creating the
climate appropriate to securing the cooperation
necessary for productivity growth. Labour Management
Relations (LMR) and Labour Management Cooperation
(LMC) are also important to the creation of a culture
which is oriented towards innovation, adaptable to and
encourages change, where authority is decentralized and
two-way communication, risk-taking and maximizing
opportunities are encouraged, and where the output
rather than the process is what matters. Changing
attitudes, awareness and behaviour to move from a
counter productivity to a productivity culture requires the
appropriate labour management relations climate based
on labour management cooperation.
A sound labour management relations system is
important to the removal of one of the main objections of
workers and unions to productivity drives by employers.
Productivity increases have sometimes been opposed by
workers and unions on the grounds that they do not result
in equitable sharing of benefits to workers and that
increased productivity may lead to redundancy.
Developing understanding of basic productivity concepts
and of the methods of increasing productivity as well as
of the formulation of equitable productivity gain-sharing
schemes help to dispel such suspicions. This task is
easier where there are mechanisms which pro-
vide for dialogue and two-way communication between
Seniwoliba 161
management and workers. Labour management relations
therefore play a crucial role in securing acceptance by
workers and unions of the need for productivity
improvement, and also in obtaining their commitment to
achieving it.
Cooperation between management and workers or
unions facilitates not only a settlement of disputes or
disagreements but also the avoidance of disputes which
may otherwise arise. At the industry level the relationship
between employers' organizations and representatives of
workers is a precondition to collective bargaining. Where
collective bargaining takes place at the enterprise level,
management workers/union relations determine to a
great extent the success or otherwise of collective
bargaining. At the national level a good relationship
between representatives of employers and workers
enables them to effectively participate in labour-
management relations policy formulation and to arrive at
a consensus.
Statement of the problem
The recent reported cases of labour unrest in the country
must be a source of worry to all Ghanaians as it has the
potential to undermine the peace and stability the nation
has and continues to enjoy. Anytime a group of workers
decide to lay down their tools, in demand for enhanced
conditions of service, it becomes difficult to quantify the
financial and economic cost to the nation. Reference
point is the just ended industrial action by teachers. The
cost of the strike to the nation, students and pupils as
well as parents cannot be quantified. The timing for the
strike which was well calculated by the teachers to
coincide with the West Africa Senior Secondary
Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Easter
Holidays has reduced the number of weeks to be covered
for the term to almost three weeks which can never be
recovered.
Just when the Ghana National Association of
Teachers (GNAT) was calling off their strike action, the
Teachers and Educational Workers Union also gave a
strong signal to withdraw its services. Meanwhile, the
Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the
Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) also indicated
that their members would lay down their tools, not
forgetting nurses and other auxiliary staff who support
healthcare delivery.
The situation degenerated because, the ordinary
Ghanaian perceives that some people work for others to
enjoy. Quite recently, it was disappointing when it was in
the public domain that fifty thousand Ghana Cedis (G
50,000.00) was paid to parliamentarians as rent
allowances. Only a few weeks afterwards, these same
parliamentarians were paid Forty-Six Thousand Ghana
Cedis (GH¢ 46,000.00) as exgracia. One thing that
becomes clear in the minds of Ghanaian workers is that,
162 Merit Res. J. Edu. Rev.
the national coffers are being spent on this particular
group of people which makes them highly dissatisfied.
Government, realizing the ill-effects of industrial actions
on the economy decided to introduce the Single Spine
Salary Structure (SSSS) to address the problems of
unfairness in the labour sector. Ever since the migration
of public sector workers onto the SSSS started, it
appears to be creating more problems than it envisaged
solving. The disparities within the wage and salary
regimes continue to widen to an unimaginable level more
especially, among people with equal academic
qualifications who are rendering similar services. The
equal work with equal pay must not only be a slogan but
a reality that must be seen to be fully implemented.
It has become abundantly clear that the economic
rights of protection of the Ghanaian worker as enshrined
in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana is
structurally denied by virtue of the justice system in place
for adjudicating labour matters. In the bid to protect the
economic rights of workers, Article 24(3) of the 1992
Constitution states that “every worker has a right to form
or join a trade union of his choice for the promotion and
protection of his economic and social interests”.
From afar, the law that regulates employment relations
in Ghana, the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) has all it takes
to provide the necessary protection for workers and
employers alike. The Law has been seen by many as an
innovative one that is structured to promote labour-
management cooperation in organizations as well as
maintain a peaceful industrial climate for enhanced
productivity through investments and economic
development. By the content of the law, it is balanced
and offers enough protection for both parties in the
employment relationship because, the law in its entirety is
a good one which raises the bar of employment relations
and human resources practice and seek to make workers
and their employers look into the future as they work
together in partnership to achieve organizational goals
and objectives however, it is not operational.
Research on strikes and lockouts have been very
limited and even those who have conducted them did not
take into consideration the strength and limitations of the
current labour law, Labour Act 2003 (Act 651). No
conscious effort was also put in place to look at the
powers vested into the National Labour Commission
(NLC), Labour Unions and Government. Therefore, it was
the task of this research to find out the factors that are
responsible for the constant workers strike, the limitations
of the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) and what the single
spine salary structure sought to achieve.
Theoretical and conceptual framework
Employment relations are the study of the regulation of
the employment relationship between employer
and employee, both collectively and individually, and the
determination of substantive and procedural issues at
industrial, organisational and workplace levels (Rose,
2008). According to Kaufman (2010), industrial relations
is viewed as the process of rule making for the workplace
(Dunlop, 1958); job regulation (Flanders, 1965); social
regulation of production (Cox, 1971); the employment
relationship as structured antagonism. (Edwards, 2005);
social regulation of market forces (Hyman, 1995);
process of capitalist production and accumulation and the
derived political and social class relations (Caire, 1996 as
cited in Kaufman, 2010); conflict of interests and pluralist
forms of workplace governance (Kochan, 1998); class
mobilization and social justice (Kelly, 1998); the
advancement of efficiency, equity, and voice in the
employment relationship (Budd, 2004); collective
representation and social dialogue (European Industrial
Relations Observatory, 2002).
Unitary theory
The unitary frame of reference is credited to Alan Fox
(1966). The unitary perspective views the organisation as
pointing towards a single or unified authority and loyalty
structure. Emphasis under the unitary perspective is
placed on common values, interest and objectives. Those
subscribing to this view see all organisational participants
as a team or family thereby implicitly emphasing shared
values, shared goals and common destiny. Unitarism in
essence implies the absence of factionalism within the
enterprise (Fajana, 2000).Conflict is viewed as irrational
and the sacking of striking workers is preferred to
consultation or negotiation. Conflict is regarded as
pathological or evil or bad.
Trade unionism is outlawed and suppressed as it is
viewed as an illegitimate intrusion or encroachment on
management’s right to manage. According to Rose
(2008), under the unitary perspective, trade unions are
regarded as an intrusion into the organisation from
outside, competing with management for the loyalty of
employees. The unitary theory tends towards
authoritarianism and paternalism. It is pro- management
biased and emphasizes consensus and industrial peace.
The underlying assumption of this view is that the
organisation exists in perfect harmony and all conflict is
unnecessary (Rose, 2008).
Conflict theory
Conflict theory is synonymous with the pluralist or the
pluralistic frame of reference which is also credited to
Alan Fox (1966). Conflict theory views the organisation
as coalescence of sectional groups with different values,
interests and objectives. Thus, employees have different
values and aspirations from those of management, and
these values and aspirations are always in conflict with
Seniwoliba 163
Inputs Processes Outputs
Actors
Context
Rules
Ideology
Feedback
Bargaining
Conciliation
Arbitration
Law Making etc
Source: Farnham, D. and Pimlott, J. (1995). Understanding Industrial Relations. (5thed). London: Cassell
Figure 1. A Simple Model of an Industrial Relations System
those of management.
Conflict theorists argue that conflict is inevitable,
rational, functional and normal situation in organizations,
which is resolved through compromise and agreement or
collective bargaining. Conflict theorists view trade unions
as legitimate challenges to managerial rule or
prerogatives and emphasize competition and
collaboration. This view recognizes trade unions as
legitimate representative organizations which enable
groups of employees to influence management decisions
(Rose, 2008). Rose further states that the
pluralist perspective would seem to be much more
relevant than the unitary perspective in the analysis of
industrial relations in many large unionized organizations
and congruent with developments in contemporary
society.
Systems approach
Dunlop (1977), one of the most influential theorists in the
systems approach to labour relations, regarded any
labour relation systems at any one time in its
development as comprising certain actors, certain
context, an ideology which binds the labour relations
system together and a body of rules which are created to
govern the actors at the work place and work community.
Commonality of objectives has an important influence on
the outcomes of the system.
These actors are employers, the employee and the
government agencies, or state which are interrelated
within the environments. The environment according to
Dunlop also affects the actors and has the following
characteristics:
Technological characteristics of the work place and
work community: These influence the form of
management and employee organisation and the
problems posed for supervisors. Thus, the adopted
technology will greatly determine the size and skills of
work force as well as availability of labour. It also affects
the health and safety at the workplace. The adopted
technology has far-reaching consequences in
determining industrial relations rule making.
Market/budgetary constraints: The products market
or budget is a decisive factor in shaping the rules
established by an industrial relations system. More so,
the market or budgetary constraints also indirectly
influences the technology and other characteristics of the
work place, including the scale and size of operations. In
all, an industrial relations system created and
administered by its actors is adaptive to its market and
budgetary constraints (Otobo, 2000). More so, the
profitability of the enterprise depends on its product
market. The locus and distribution of power in the larger
society: The relative distribution of power among the
actors in the larger society tends to a degree to be
reflected within the industrial relations system. Thus, the
distribution of power within the industrial relations system
is affected by the distribution of power in the wider
society.
Dunlop is not concerned about the distribution of
power within the industrial relations system, nor with the
relative bargaining powers among the actors, nor their
164 Merit Res. J. Edu. Rev.
controls over the processes of interaction or rule setting,
rather the reference to the distribution of power outside
the industrial relations system. Thus, the wider society is
seen as providing certain external influences and
constraints but not as completely dominating industrial
relations system. There are also rules which govern the
behavior of the actors in the relationship. The two main
types of rules within which the actors operate are:
1. Substantive rules which specify actual conditions of
employment (e.g. Wage rate and working hours) and;
2. Procedural rules which regulate the manner in which
the actors operate e.g. When and how negotiations
will take place.
Ideology connotes a set of ideas and beliefs
commonly held by the actors that helps to bind or
integrate the system together as an entity. According to
Otobo (2000, p.28) citing Dunlop “each of the actors in an
industrial relations system may be said to have its own
ideology. Dunlop insists rather strongly that all these
ideologies must be sufficiently compatible or consistent to
permit a common set of ideas which recognise an
acceptable role for each actor”. Dunlop assumes that the
ideology of IRs system must be one or the same among
the actors.
However, the systems approach of Dunlop seems to
neglect the importance of behavioural variables. The
approach needs to be expanded to encompass the
influence of these variables. As could be deduced from
the model below, there are three sets of independent
variables in an industrial relations systems, the actors,
the contexts and the ideology of the system, while the
rules represent the dependent variable or the output of
the industrial relations system. The dynamic model of the
systemic paradigm, open system analysis and the oxford
school are further elaboration of the Dunlopian model.
(Figure 1)
The dynamic model of the systemic paradigm
The dynamic model of the systemic paradigm of industrial
relations is a refinement to Dunlop’s analytical
framework. This dynamic model is credited to Blain and
Gennard (1970). The two adopted Dunlop’s proposition of
an industrial relations system being on the same logical
plane as the economic subsystem. Their work centred on
classifying the variables in an industrial relations system
into dependent and independent variables, a task the
Dunlopian model made difficult to achieve. They
expressed the industrial relations system algebraically as
shown below:
r = f (a, t, e, s, i) Where, r = the rules of the industrial
relations system, a = the actors, t = the technical context
of the work place, e = economic or the market/budgetary
constraint, s = the power context and the status of the
parties, i = the ideology of the system.
From the above equation, the rules can be viewed as
the dependent variables being determined by the
interaction of the five independent variables. Thus, the
function of the industrial relations system is to establish a
set of rules for the workplace and work community. In
dynamic society the rules will frequently alter as a result
of changes in the contexts or environment. Thus, the
dynamic model emanated as a response to the criticisms
leveled against the Dunlopian system model. It has
been criticized as having a static view of industrial
relations.
The open system analysis
Dunlop’s systems theory uses the term ‘system’ in a too
loose and undefined manner. The open system analysis
is concerned with looking at industrial relations system in
terms of inputs and outputs and the interaction with the
environment. According to Koontz, O’ Donnel and
Weihrich (1980, p.19) “almost all life is a system. Our
bodies certainly are. Our homes and universities are, as
are our government agencies and our businesses.”
Systems have inter-related parts which work together to
form a complex unity or whole. The features of a system
are as follows:
Whole: a system is more than the sum of its parts. It
must be viewed as a whole;
Closed or open: A system is regarded as open if it
exchanges information, energy ormaterial with its
environment. A closed system is one that does not
have interactions with its environment. All social
systems are by nature open systems;
Boundary: Every system has boundaries which
separate it from its environment;
Input and output: All systems which interact with the
environment are amenable to receiving inputs from
other systems and giving output to other systems;
Feedback: An informational input that tells whether
the system is indeed at least achieving a steady state
and is not in danger of destruction;
Homeostatic: This is referred to as dynamic
homeostatic (steady state). Hence an organisation
will not be able to survive if its inputs do not at least
equal its outputs;
Subsystems: With the exception of the Universe, all
systems are subsystems. That is every system is a
component of other larger systems;
Equifinality: All open systems have common ends or
objectives as everyone performs in a manner that will
enhance the attainment of the broad objectives of the
system and;
Differentiation and Elaboration: As the system grows,
it tends to become more specialized in its elements
and to elaborate its structure. This is exemplified by
the expansion of product lines or creation of new
sales offices by an organisation.
Having stated some of the characteristics of a system,
one would be apt to state that the Dunlopian model of an
industrial relations system ought to have followed the
open system concept in formulating an industrial relations
system instead of seeing it as a system of rules, which
appears too parochial. The systemic paradigm by Dunlop
has attracted an avalanche of criticisms, some of which
are as follows:
The heroic assumption taken by Dunlop that an
industrial relations system will necessarily be
homeostatic has been criticised. This is because
industrial conflicts are never truly resolved and one
problem arises after another. So, the system is not
completely stable as claimed by Dunlop;
The model provides no explanation of the causes of
industrial action but laid more emphasis on conflict
resolution;
Dunlop’s formulation of an industrial relations system
largely omits such behavioural variables as
human motivation, perception and attitudes,
personality and small group interaction. He laid more
emphasis on institutions (trade unions, employers
associations);
Dunlop identified three main actors in the industrial
relations system but failed to make reference to the
owners of industrial property. It has been argued, that
this omission stems from the fact that decisions in the
industrial relations system are made by managers
and not owners. Some have argued that the number
of actors has to be increased;
Another flaw is that Dunlop’s idea of a system is a
deterministic mechanism. Dunlop’s actors are not
persons. The model suffers from reification. No
provision for the role of individual personalities was
advanced;
Limited predictive value associated with the systems
model makes it difficult to forecast whether the
system will experience more or less conflicts as a
result of a given change in one or more of the
environmental contexts.
It suffers a handicap in that it does not take into
account the processes by which the rules of the
system are determined or made.
One of the criticisms of the system approach is the
difficulty in defining a system. There was no clear
definition of what was meant by the concept of a
system itself. This failure may have caused some
writers to misrepresent the theory of industrial
relations system. What is the substance of a system
of industrial relations? This was the question raised
by Flanders. Not until recently has it been stated that
a system of industrial relations is a system of rules.
However, a system of industrial relations as
propounded by Dunlop is not a system of rules but a
conceptual framework in which one component
element is the rules. The systems approach has
been misrepresented by a Sociologist, Eldridge who
Seniwoliba 165
conceptualized the model as being comprised of only
three elements (the actors, rules and ideology);
The claim by Dunlop that the industrial relations
system is on the same logical plane as the economic
system is not correct, as Wood, Wagner, Armstrong,
Goodman and Davis (1975) have pointed out, once
Dunlop accepted the Parsonian social system that
the social system is comprised of four functional sub-
systems (the economic, political, integrative and
pattern- maintenance) the industrial relations system
could not therefore be on the same logical plane as
the economic system, but it should be construed as
on a lower logical plane than the economic system;
It is criticised that the framework is static, not
dynamic in time as processes are ignored;
The systems theory concentrates on formal rules as
against informal rules and processes;
The systems model does not entail an account of the
ways in which inputs are converted into outputs;
Power could not rightly be a property of the external
context of industrial relations system only, instead,
power is considered central internally to the conduct
of the parties themselves for the establishment and
defense of rules and their application. It is a fact that
workers/union and management are involved in a
power relationship within the enterprise and industry;
Dunlop did not pay sufficient attention to all facets of
conflict in the industrial relations system, his
emphasis being on conflict resolution and not its
generation. Why and how conflicts occur are likely to
reveal more about industrial relations processes and
institutions than how their manifestations are sorted
out (Otobo, 2000). The overall argument is that
Dunlop misunderstood the Parsonian system
analysis;
Oxford school
Since the oxford school does not necessarily have to
constitute a self- contained approach, and has the
elements of the systems theory, it should probably be
viewed merely as a variant of the systems approach
(Fajana, 2000). The oxford school emerged from the
systems approach as both focus on institutions of
industrial relations, although the point of difference is
merely on emphasis. This approach is credited to Allan
Flanders a British academic.
According to Flanders as cited in Hyman (1975, p.11),
“industrial relations is the study of the institutions of job
regulation”. He opines that the rules of any industrial
relations system are seen as procedural and substantive.
The procedural rules regulate the behaviour of parties to
the collective agreements- trade unions and employers or
their associations, whereas, the substantive rules
regulate the behaviour of employees and employers as
parties to individual contracts of employment. In fact, it is
166 Merit Res. J. Edu. Rev.
the substantive rules of collective bargaining that regulate
jobs. Thus, the collective agreement is made up of both
the procedural and substantive clauses. Some of the
institutions of job regulation are internal as well as
external. Internally, we have joint consultation, the
grievance procedure, a code of disciplinary works’ rules,
a factory wage structure, and a host of others. Externally,
there are other institutions which limit the freedom of the
enterprise and its members in their rule-making activities,
such as a protective labour legislation, the rules of trade
unions and employers’ association.
The rules of the industrial relations system are viewed
as being determined through the rule making process of
collective bargaining which is regarded as a political
institution involving a power relationship between
employers and employees. The oxford approach can be
expressed algebraically in the form of an equation. r = f
(c) Where, r = the rules governing industrial relations
system and c = collective bargaining.
When the equation is compared with the equation of
the dynamic systems model which states that r = f (a, t, e,
s, i), it can be seen that the distinction between the
dynamic systems model and the oxford approach lies in
the right hand side of the equation. But both have the
same output but different inputs. The oxford approach
has stressed the process of rule making through
collective bargaining while the dynamic system model
emphasises the role of wider influence on rule
determination. For the oxford approach, political variables
are seen as of paramount importance but for the dynamic
system model, economic, sociological and ideological
variables are thought to be significant.
The criticisms of the oxford approach are as follows:
a. It is too narrow to provide a comprehensive
framework for analysing industrial relations problems
and;
b. It over emphasised the importance of the political
process of collective bargaining and gives insufficient
weight to the role of the deeper influences in the
determination of rules.
Marxist theory
Marxism is, more or less, a general theory of society and
of social change with implications for the analysis of
industrial relations within capitalist societies and does not
strictly explain the theory of industrial relations. The
application of Marxian theory as it relates to industrial
relations today derives from later Marxist scholars rather
than directly from the works of Karl Marx himself
(Ogunbameru, 2004). According to Hyman (1975) the
contribution of both Dunlop and Flanders are giant strides
in the formulation of industrial relations theory, but argues
rather strongly that to define industrial relations
exclusively in terms of rules and institutions for job
regulation is far too limited or restrictive. What this implies
is that industrial relations is all about the maintenance of
stability and regularity in industry. He argues that the
issue of conflict was not given proper analysis by the duo,
as they focused on how any conflict is contained and
controlled, rather than on the process through which
disagreements and disputes are generated.
Hyman asserts that the perspectives of the duo
however influential, is one sided and inadequate. Hyman
(1975, p.12) defines industrial relations” as the study of
the processes of control over work relations and among
these processes, those involving collective worker
organisation and action are of particular concern”. Hyman
further argues that unceasing power struggle for control
is a central feature of industrial relations. To him, this
struggle for control emanates from the nature and
characteristics of capitalist society. He summarised the
major characteristics of capitalism as:
i. the ownership and or control of the means of
production by a small minority
ii. the domination of profit as the fundamental
determinant of economic activities
iii. the obligation on most of society to sell their
productive abilities on the market as a commodity.
Against this background, two major classes are
located within capitalist industrial relations which are
also a reflection of what obtains in society.
Thus, capitalist industrialism bifurcate society into two
classes. These are the owners of means of production
which is the capitalist or bourgeoisie and the owners of
labour, which are the workers or proletariat. This being
so, the interests of employers and employees are
diametrically opposed and conflictual. The capitalist
endeavours to purchase labour at the lowest possible
price whilst labour on the other hand tries to sell his only
asset at the highest possible price in order to ensure his
existence. The capitalists tend to maximize profit whilst
the workers tend to maximize wages/salaries. Thus, in
capitalist industrial society, the interests and aspirations
of both labour and employers are divergent and in
conflict.
The Marxist perspectives typify workplace relations as
a reflection of the incidence of societal inequalities and
the inevitable expression of this at the work place.
To sum it up, Hyman further states that industrial
relations is all about power, interests and conflict and that
the economic, technological and political dynamics of the
broader society inevitably shape the character of
relations among industrial relations actors which he
described as the political economy of industrial relations.
Conflict is viewed as a disorder precursor to change and
to resolve conflict means to change the imbalance and
inequalities in society in terms of power and wealth.
Trade unions are viewed as employee response to
capitalism. Marxist theory emphasises exploitation and
alienation.
This perspective is critical of capitalist society and its
system of production, distribution and exchange and
emphasizes the importance of collective action including
strike action and action short of strikes (Rose, 2008).
Hyman (1975) argues that given the nature of capitalist
society, industrial relations can be analysed from a more
radical perspective. This theory is also known as the
radical perspective.
Social action theory
According to Green (1994, p.4), “the social action theory
views industrial relations from the individual’s
viewpoint and motivation”. According to Rose (2008), the
social action approach considers the organisation from
the position of the individual members or actors who will
each have their own goals. This perspective regards
conflicts of interests as normal behaviour and part of
organizational life (Rose, 2008). It is credited to Max
Weber (1864-1920); a German Sociologist.
Social action theory represents a contribution from
sociologists to the study of organisations. It attempts to
view the organisation from the standpoint of individual
members or actors of industrial relations. The theory
seeks to analyse why the actors take certain lines of
action. This contrasts with the systems approach which
states that behaviour is a result of the structure and
processes of the system. Social action arises out of the
expectations, norms, attitudes, values, experiences,
situation and goals of the individuals working in the
system.
Thus, according to Green while the system approach
is up-down, the social action theory is a bottom-up
approach. Salamon (2000) opines that the importance of
the social action theory of industrial relations is that it
weakens the fatalism of structural determinism and
stresses that the individual retains at least some freedom
of action and ability to influence events in the direction
that he/she believes to be right or desirable. Social action
theorists emphasise the use of interview, survey and
participant observation in determining the reality of both
society and of organisations.
SCOPE OF STUDY AND METHODOLOGY
The study covers stories and issues on the current labour
unrest in Ghana on internet sites such as ghanaweb,
myjoyonline, citinews, google, individuals such as
executives of Ghana Association University
Administrators (GAUA), Ghana National Association of
Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate
Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana Medical Association (GMA)
and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH). The
researcher also reviewed some limitations of the Labour
Act 2003 (Act 651), discussed the labour relation
processes and collected some quick polls from the
internet.
Seniwoliba 167
To gather the data, the researcher used the
convenience and purposive sampling approaches.
Convenience sampling is a non-probability sampling
technique where subjects are selected because of their
convenient accessibility and proximity to the researcher.
The subjects are selected just because they are easiest
to recruit for the study and the researcher did not
consider selecting subjects that are representative of the
entire population. In purposive sampling subjects are
selected because of some characteristic. Purposive
sampling is popular in qualitative research. Patton (1990)
has proposed number of cases of purposive sampling
however only three of them suit this research. These
include:
i. Stratified Purposeful - Illustrates characteristics of
particular subgroups of interest; facilitates
comparisons;
ii. Maximum Variation - Purposefully picking a wide
range of variation on dimensions of
interest...documents unique or diverse variations that
have emerged in adapting to different conditions.
Identifies important common patterns that cut across
variations and ;
iii. Combination or Mixed Purposeful - Triangulation,
flexibility, meets multiple interests and needs.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
The detailed analysis of the data collected from the
various sites and individuals for the study is presented
here. The results and discussions have been organized
into three sections. The first section looks at the factors
that cause workers strikes in the country. The other two
sections, deal with some of the limitations of Labour Act
2003 (Act 651) in terms of adjudication of labour issues
and resolution of labour disputes.
Factors that cause labour unrest in Ghana
The causes of industrial disputes can be broadly
classified into two categories: economic and non-
economic causes. The economic causes include issues
relating to compensation like wages, bonuses,
allowances, and conditions for work, working hours, leave
and holidays without pay, unjust layoffs and
retrenchments. The non economic factors are failure to
implement policies in their right direction, victimization of
workers, discrimination and segregation, ill treatment of
staff members, sympathetic strikes, political factors,
indiscipline etc. These are discussed in broad terms
below.
Job evaluation under the knowledge/education’ sub-
factor of the single spine salary structure considers what
level of knowledge/education would be required for an
average person to be able to do a particular job.
168 Merit Res. J. Edu. Rev.
Therefore if one evaluates ten different jobs under the
sub-factor, they may be found to require different levels
of knowledge and therefore ‘score’ different marks under
the sub-factor. This goes for all the other sub-factors, and
the summation of the marks scored under each of the
thirteen sub-factors to determine the placement of a
particular job in the job grade and subsequently on the
salary structure. This is how internal equity or “equal pay
for work of equal value/worth” as enshrined both in
Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and the Labour law is given
expression in practical terms. The current disagreements
between some identifiable labour unions/associations
and the FWSC with regard to placement and progression
on the salary structure as well as other related
grievances could be due to some of these normal
implementation challenges. The emerging issues point to
the fact that the inherent problems with the placement of
jobs on the SSSS have not been addressed satisfactorily
and this has potential risk of derailing the intended
objectives of the SSPP.
The lack of professional human resource managers
was one of the factors that has caused the current
workers strikes. The problem has eaten up from our
enterprises into the national levels. It was observed that
the present human resource management professional in
Ghana are more reactive instead of being proactive, as
such they are unable to put systems in place to prevent
labour problems. The workers strikes therefore, are as a
result of lack professionals for handling industrial
relations hence, the current prevailing situation.
The current labour unrest could have been handled
better using the labour Act 2003 (Act 651). However,
labour practitioners and labour union leaders do not apply
the act in efforts to provide solutions to their issues.
Social partners (government, workers and labour unions)
should be well informed about provisions in the Act and
apply them to their arbitration processes. It is clear from
the current situation that, the provisions on the act are not
applied in many labour negotiations. The negotiating
parties tend to negotiate on positional basis and often
drive the negotiations into a deadlock.
Failure of Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to
implement National Labour Commission’s rulings, refusal
to respect communiqués signed with some labour unions,
inability to harmonize;
1. Allowances for special conditions and/or
circumstances that arise from time to time which require
some compensation such as acting, transfer grant,
height, tools, and overtime allowances;
2. Benefits that are staff welfare or job related that the
employer considers would enhance the well-being of the
employee and his/her family such as medical and funeral
grant, night subsistence, entertainment, fuel, motor cycle,
warm clothing allowance and book allowance and;
3. Unwillingness to implement payment schedules as
spelt out in the communiqués were some of the
immediate causes of the workers strikes.
Some respondents attributed the numerous strikes to
politics. They stated that the political savvy class who
dominate both the tribal and higher socio-economic
echelon of life in Ghana represent all the angry anti-
government parties. In the opinion of the opposition, they
have the exclusive right to take all the best jobs, receive
the highest remunerations, run everything, make all the
decisions and act and talk the way that suits them. These
classes of people are highly educated and have control
over the media and, therefore, are not the only voices
heard often at national level on debates about conditions
affecting the ordinary person, they are most of the time,
the voices of reason because of the cogent arguments
they put across on air and on the screen. They have a
very potent influence on the people others call “masses”.
They are highly skillful and capable of interpreting any
situation to their advantage with half-truths,
misinformation and down-right intellectual intimidations.
This group has developed a sense of entitlement and
desire to demand respect and, therefore, the right to
control everything in Ghana. This sense of entitlement
has forced them to be highly partisan in the politics of the
country. They have used this party alliance to channel
the anger and frustration of the ordinary Ghanaian worker
into a fight for the political and economic power of these
reactionary intellectuals.
Furthermore, the political undertone that underpins
some strikes is undeniable. As government remains
tentative in following its strategies and policy prioritization
with action plans, seeking resources to implement the
single spine salary for fair equitable pay, labour tests its
influence over national economic policy. All eyes, foreign
and domestic, are on government to prove impartiality in
national leadership and its commitment to the national
interest over political alliances.
Table 1 below shows opinion polls conducted by
myjoyonline to find out who is to blame for the current
labour unrest in the country, produced this results
supporting the fact that, part of the problem influencing
the current labour unrest was political. A total of 3,136
responses were given, 2119 representing 67.6 percent
attributed the blame to government, 16.2 percent said
Fair Wages and Salaries Commission should be blamed,
13.0 percent said it was the labour unions and only 3.2
attributed it to the National Labour Commission.
One of the main causes of the current poor industrial
relations resulting in inefficiency and labour unrest
perhaps is mental laziness on the part of both
management and labour. Management is not sufficiently
concerned to ascertain the causes of inefficiency and
unrest following the laissez-faire policy, until it is faced
with strikes and more serious unrest. Even with regard to
methods of work, management does not bother to devise
the best method but leaves it mainly to the subordinates
to work it out for themselves. Contempt on the part
of the employers towards the workers is another major
cause.
Seniwoliba 169
Table 1. Opinion polls on who is to blame for the current labour unrest
# Institutions Freq %
1 Government (Gov) 2,119 67.6
2 Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) 508 16.2
3 National Labour Commission (NLC) 101 3.2
4 Labour Unions (LU) 408 13.0
Total 3,136 100
Some imitations of labour act 2003 (Act 651)
The current labour law has failed to maintain a
peaceful industrial relations climate by its inability to
prevent illegal industrial (strike) actions. Unions
especially public sector unions embark on illegal strike
action and openly ridicule the National Labour
Commission (NLC) in the media.
The law does not empower the NLC to impose any
sanctions on persons who infringe on its orders and
ruling. As an adjudicating body with powers to order the
return of workers on illegal strike action to work or the
reopening of the workplace of an organization that
undertakes an illegal lockout, it contradicts logic that such
an adjudicating body will be prohibited from enforcing its
own orders as well as imposing sanctions and penalties
for gross infringement of its orders.
The labour law has also failed to provide workers with
the speedy justice they deserve. Another major object of
passage of the law is to circumvent the winding,
frustrating and expensive processes of litigation in the
courts and hence the introduction of Alternative Disputes
Resolution (ADR) processes in disputes negotiation,
mediation and arbitration as mechanisms for resolving
labour disputes. Cases spend an average of a year or
more before the NLC which duration for resolution is not
too different from cases before the courts.
Employer found guilty and required to pay
compensation chooses to ignore the orders of the NLC.
The NLC under such circumstances is required to
enforce its orders before the High Court, which
application for enforcement is often thrown out either
because judges exhibit a gross misunderstanding of
industrial relations law and practice or an obvious error
by the NLC in procedure or legal technicalities.
Workers who have legitimate cases and judgment
passed by high courts will have to wait for justice, still
unpaid for the duration and may wait till the issue is
determined finally at the Supreme Court level.
Legal jurisprudence and the position of law in Ghana
for labour matters confirm that damages in unfair
termination of employment are limited to compensation
which is based on monies that may accrue to an
employee for the minimum duration for which s/he is
required to look for another job. The unfairly terminated
worker even if proven as such and judgment given to
same effect cannot benefit from payment of salary for the
duration of termination of employment and the
determination of the matter. Our learned justices of the
superior courts of judicature have held and continue to
hold that the worker should have acted to mitigate his
losses by finding another job. However, under the
circumstances of very high levels of unemployment in
Ghana today, I believe such position cannot continue to
hold. But until such position of our judges change,
unfairly terminated workers proven as such will continue
to benefit from only compensation for the reasonable
duration for which they are required to look for another
job.
Finally, the labour law has not been successful in the
effective practice of ADR processes as introduced by the
law. Strangely, parties in dispute have refused on many
occasions to submit to mediation and arbitration
processes which are the primary processes the law
seeks to use to speed up the resolution of cases before
the NLC and the speedy labour justice in Ghana.
Currently, almost all parties with cases pending before
the NLC want the Commission to adjudicate and
determine the matter in litigation style. As a result, the
NLC on the days it sits looks more like a court than a
place of sombre, meditative and contemplative resolution
of differences. It would seem that the contemplation of
the framers of the law that the NLC would become a
place of joint problem solving and a search for amicable
solution has become illusive because the NLC is
currently another arena for parties to show each other
who is who. Hence parties are leaving the NLC after case
hearings more divided than they came. The win-win
solutions sought by the NLC have become illusive in
many cases and ADR has failed to become the primary
methodology for resolving disputes before the
Commission because parties upon the advice of their
lawyers refuse to submit to it.
Resolution of industrial disputes
Harmonious industrial relations environment is a
prerequisite for economic development. In this vein,
industrial democracy can only be achieved when
members of the Tripartite Committee strengthen
social dialogue. Social partners therefore need to accept
170 Merit Res. J. Edu. Rev.
change in order to facilitate the implementation of the
Labour Act. The International labour Organisation (ILO)
supports member states to strengthen machinery for
labour disputes settlement, in line with international
labour standards and in consultation with the social
partners by:
Establishing legal and regulatory frameworks;
Building effective dispute resolution systems and
services within the labour administration and by
independent statutory institutions and specialised
labour courts;
Building the capacity of staff through specialised
training focused on negotiation skills and conciliation
/ mediation skills, as well as on international labour
standards;
Sharing knowledge and raising awareness in respect
of the advantages of voluntary conciliation, mediation
and arbitration mechanisms; and
Sharing experiences of labour court judges on issues
of common interest and concern.
Amongst the more important findings was the fact that
there must be a greater awareness of worker needs,
values and objectives. The best way to handle strikes is
to prevent them from occurring in the first place. To do
this, management need to proactively investigate and
manage the grievances of the workers. The diversity of
cultures in the public sector contributes to labour unrest
in various ways. Workers become frustrated by what
some groups consider as the norm. Management
therefore need to be proactive in their approach towards
striking employee, rather than reactive. Part of this
proactive process by management is the constant
monitoring of working conditions to see what further types
of improvements can be introduced to minimize adverse
effects of strike. There should be good communication
between management and workers at all times. Open
communication is strengthened by worker involvement in
decision-making.
Grievances and conflicts are an inevitable part of the
employment relationship. The objective of public policy is
to manage conflict and promote sound labour relations by
creating a system for the effective prevention and
settlement of labour disputes. Labour administrations
should typically establish labour dispute procedures in
national legislation. A key objective of effective systems
to ensure that wherever possible, the parties resolve
dispute through a consensus-based process such as
conciliation and mediation, before reverting to arbitration
and/or adjudication through a tribunal or labour court.
Conciliation and mediation are also procedures
whereby a third party provides assistance to the parties in
the course of negotiations, or when negotiations have
reached an impasse, with a view to helping them to reach
an agreement. While in many countries these terms are
interchangeable, in some countries a distinction is made
between them according to the degree of initiative taken
by the third party.
Arbitration is another procedure of resolving industrial
disputes. It is a process whereby a third party (whether
an individual arbitrator, a board of arbitrators or an
arbitration court), not acting as a court of law, is
empowered to take a decision which disposes of the
dispute.
CONCLUSION
The practice of employment/industrial relations has
benefited immensely from theoretical frameworks of
leading theorists in the field of industrial relations. It has
been observed that despite the criticisms levelled against
some of these theories they have stood the test of time
and have contributed immensely to scholarship and
practice. Among these theories, there are areas of
commonalities and differences. Although, Dunlop in the
preface to his Industrial Relations System gave his
objective as the advancement of a general theory for the
examination of industrial relations (Fajana, 2000); this
objective is yet to be achieved. Fajana (2000, p.21)
argues that “a large number of industrial relations
theories have been accepted into the body of knowledge
of industrial relations, although each valid theory
emphasizes only little aspects of the field.
There is yet to emerge a general theory of industrial
relations”. While giving kudos to Dunlop for his
pioneering efforts, one may ask; can there be a general/
unified theory of industrial relations? This is food for
thought for industrial relations academics and
practitioners alike.
RECOMMENDATIONS
The current labour law has made provisions for the
effective practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
processes. Strangely, parties in dispute have refused on
many occasions to submit to Mediation and Arbitration
Processes which are the primary processes the law
seeks to use to speed up the resolution of cases before
the National Labour Commission (NLC) and the speedy
labour justice in Ghana. Currently, almost all parties with
cases pending before the NLC want the Commission to
adjudicate and determine the matter in litigation style. As
a result, the NLC on the days it sits looks more like a
court than a place of sombre, meditative and
contemplative resolution of differences. Therefore the
contemplation of the framers of the law that the NLC
would become a place of joint problem solving and a
search for amicable solution would become a reality if the
ADR process is strictly adhere to where all parties can air
out their view for a win-win solutions since that is best
method of resolving industrial disputes.
The Labour Law should be reviewed to empower the
NLC to impose any sanctions on persons who infringe on
its orders and ruling. As an adjudicating body with powers
to order the return of workers on illegal strike action to
work or the reopening of the workplace of an organization
that undertakes an illegal lockout, the law should allow
the NLC to enforce its own orders as well as impose
sanctions and penalties for gross infringement of its
orders.
The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission should
implement the rulings of National Labour Commission in
respect of communiqués signed with labour unions;
harmonize category 2 and 3 allowances and implement
payment schedules as spelt out in the communiqués to
avoid the recurrence of strikes.
To save the country from being plunged into a political
turmoil, the political savvy class who dominate both the
tribal and higher socio-economic echelon of life in Ghana,
and claim to represent the masses, should analyze
issues from the pragmatic point of view other that
associating them to politics by giving the populace wrong
information and controlling the air waves to the best of
their interest.
Government should remain focused in following its
strategies and policy prioritization with action plans, seek
resources to implement the single spine salary equitably
to reduce or do away completely with the labour disputes.
Government should be aware that all eyes are on her in
both foreign and domestic arenas to see how she is
going to turn things to improve the livelihoods and work
conditions of her citizens.
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... Conflicts are inevitable as long as people coexist [1], and they are unavoidable in workplaces [2]. However, industrial actions in Nigeria's health sector are unacceptably on the increase, making government prompt intervention inevitable [3]. ...
... Participation of health professionals in industrial actions depends on the influencers [19]. Causes of industrial crisis include: failure of government to implement agreements [20] from previous negotiations [21]; poor conditions of service [2,20], including threats to workers' health [22]; management's misinterpretation of contract agreement between government and the workers [23]; poor and discriminatory remuneration [2,23]; absence of teamwork and corruption [23]; economic recession making compromise difficult during negotiations; lack of promotions; delay in salaries of newly employed staff; poor management-worker relationship; inadequate information on labour laws; non-enforcement of the nowork-no-pay law; ineffective communication system; lack of trust [24]; and maltreatment of workers [2] by the management. In the past, salary related strike accounted for 50% [22] of industrial actions, and in recent times, it could be as high as 82% [18]. ...
... Participation of health professionals in industrial actions depends on the influencers [19]. Causes of industrial crisis include: failure of government to implement agreements [20] from previous negotiations [21]; poor conditions of service [2,20], including threats to workers' health [22]; management's misinterpretation of contract agreement between government and the workers [23]; poor and discriminatory remuneration [2,23]; absence of teamwork and corruption [23]; economic recession making compromise difficult during negotiations; lack of promotions; delay in salaries of newly employed staff; poor management-worker relationship; inadequate information on labour laws; non-enforcement of the nowork-no-pay law; ineffective communication system; lack of trust [24]; and maltreatment of workers [2] by the management. In the past, salary related strike accounted for 50% [22] of industrial actions, and in recent times, it could be as high as 82% [18]. ...
Research
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Get the nurses to go back to work" was the directive, after two years of intermittent labour strikes and consequent shutdown of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, South Eastern Nigeria. It was assumed that, since nurses constituted the largest percentage of health workers, their resumption would frustrate and end the strike. However, studies have shown that the use of force rarely worked. This study examined the nurses' perception of causes of the strikes and the government interventions. The WHO healthy workplace framework was adapted in recommending strategies to prevent reoccurrence. Exploratory research design with mixed method sequential exploratory data collection strategy was utilized. Findings from focus group discussions in first phase were used to develop Likert scale self-administered questionnaire at second quantitative phase. One hundred and thirty-nine and 461 nurses participated in the qualitative and quantitative phases respectively. Epi Info statistical package was used for data entry and analysis of the quantitative data. Frequencies and percentages were calculated for all the items, and Chi-square was calculated between the senior and junior nurses' responses. The responses of the senior and junior nurses were similar on the items. All sixteen causes of the strike identified by participants were within Psychosocial Work Environment of the WHO framework. Disparity in salary was highest (443(96.1%), followed by highhandedness of the chief executive (436(94.58%). Participants opined that insincerity of the investigation panel (369(80%) and seriousness of the crisis led to the shutdown (341(73.97%) of the facility. Suggested fifteen preventive strategies against strikes covered two of the WHO's workplace environments. They included, the psychosocial environment: effective communication (450(97.61%), promotion of nurses as and when due (447(96.96%), harmonization of salaries (445(96.53%), change of chief executive (442(95.87%); and the physical environment: provision of materials to work with in the hospital (406(88%). Accurate reports by panels of enquiry (448(97.18%), appropriate prompt attention to the causes (447(96.96%), and avoidance of sentiments (446(96.75%) could prevent repeat shutdown of the facility. Chi-square showed no significant difference in the responses of the senior and junior nurses. According to the WHO healthy work place intervention model, elimination, substitution and modification of contents and processes in the workplace may be required. Stakeholders should avoid factors that hinder appropriate interventions; and uphold values that protect workers and the benefitting communities.
... Studies likeBeggs and Chapman, (1987) [21],Morris and Wilson (1994) [22], have demonstrated that the accord process between employees and employers resulted in substantial reductions in strike action and working days lost from industrial conflict.Whereas the long-run reduction in disputes occur when trade union are incorporated into managerial and government decision making processes, particularly those which address problems such as high inflation, unemployment and adjustments to expanding international trade. Bhorat, Jacob and Westhuizen (2013)[23] established positive relationship between the number of industrial the level of employment protection in the labour market, using an Augmented Lazear Model, where a two-stage endogeneity-corrected least-square model is used to predict the impact of differentially measured indices of industrial disputes in South Africa.Bhorat et al. (2013) [23] suggested that an increase in industrial disputes, measured by the number of industrial dispute cases and the efficiency level decreases regional-level employment.Meanwhile,Seniwoliba (2013) [24] examined the trend and pattern of strike in Ghana and finds that there must be a greater awareness of worker's needs, values and objectives and management should be more proactive in order to prevent industrial disputes in the economy. However, in the view of Seniwoliba (2013), who regarded the causes of industrial conflict to government policy contrary to some other scholar's view. ...
... Studies likeBeggs and Chapman, (1987) [21],Morris and Wilson (1994) [22], have demonstrated that the accord process between employees and employers resulted in substantial reductions in strike action and working days lost from industrial conflict.Whereas the long-run reduction in disputes occur when trade union are incorporated into managerial and government decision making processes, particularly those which address problems such as high inflation, unemployment and adjustments to expanding international trade. Bhorat, Jacob and Westhuizen (2013)[23] established positive relationship between the number of industrial the level of employment protection in the labour market, using an Augmented Lazear Model, where a two-stage endogeneity-corrected least-square model is used to predict the impact of differentially measured indices of industrial disputes in South Africa.Bhorat et al. (2013) [23] suggested that an increase in industrial disputes, measured by the number of industrial dispute cases and the efficiency level decreases regional-level employment.Meanwhile,Seniwoliba (2013) [24] examined the trend and pattern of strike in Ghana and finds that there must be a greater awareness of worker's needs, values and objectives and management should be more proactive in order to prevent industrial disputes in the economy. However, in the view of Seniwoliba (2013), who regarded the causes of industrial conflict to government policy contrary to some other scholar's view. ...
... Individuals seeking improvement in their working conditions may view the union actions useful (Goeddeke and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2010), especially in a setting where unions are influential. Agitations for wage increases and strike activities by unions have persisted for many years in Ghana (Ghana News Agency, 2006, 2011Seniwoliba, 2013), and this may be seen as a union's support of the members (economic exchange). While employees may be frustrated with the economic exchange from the organisation they may appreciate the unions' support and increase their involvement, including bonds to the union and intent to perform on behalf of the union. ...
... Individuals seeking improvement in their working conditions may view the union actions useful (Goeddeke and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2010), especially in a setting where unions are influential. Agitations for wage increases and strike activities by unions have persisted for many years in Ghana (Ghana News Agency, 2006, 2011Seniwoliba, 2013), and this may be seen as a union's support of the members (economic exchange). While employees may be frustrated with the economic exchange from the organisation they may appreciate the unions' support and increase their involvement, including bonds to the union and intent to perform on behalf of the union. ...
... Increasingly, lack of budgetary allocation or delay in release of funds by central government to public entities is becoming common (severe) as stated earlier (PPA Annual Report, 2010). Agitations within Ghanaian labour front have seen an unprecedented increase over the years (Seniwoliba, 2013). This phenomenon could be responsible for respondents ranking of labour strikes as 10th on the extent of occurrence of risk factors. ...
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