You are on page 1of 13






Oladipupo Olayemi KAYODE


MARCH , 2019

The entire history of the Nigeria Labour Congress is the outcome of many years of

relentless, vigorous and concerted struggle engaged by Nigeria workers for better

work conditions, improved remuneration, equality among classes and gender, and

other multifarious interest. A great number of this struggle appeared to be between the

workers and the government but in reality it was always between the workers and

socio-economic and political structure of the society. No government in a strict

capitalist system for instance, ever enacts communist policies without being booted

out by severe opposition. Hence for it to perform to its highest potential it must align

itself with the system. (Akinwale, 2009)

Thus, in a capitalist setup that thrives on exploitation of man by man, the government

is compelled to enact policies to sustain this exploitation. It is these policies forced on

the government by the system that always lead to industrial conflict. However, since

policies are created and enforced by the people in government, the workers, who are

always at the receiving end, channel their grievances on the leaders. (Asiodu, 2009)

This is not an attempt at absolving the government of culpability as an active

aggressor in the infamous and intractable labour wars; rather it is an acknowledgement

that the conflict is more complicated than it is normally perceived. It is more than

putting the blames solely on the government. The history of unionism itself is

enmeshed in this cantankerous conflict. To understand the history of the Nigeria

Labour Congress (NLC) we should look at the history of unionism in Nigeria.

Origin of Nigeria Labour Congress

Before the emergence of Nigeria labour congress (NLC) in (1978), there has been

several unions representing the interest of different workers in different organizations,

firms and industries. The activities of these unions were inimical to the socioeconomic

well-being of country. Prior to this development, there has been need to form broad

based union that will cater for the needs of these unions.

In corroborating with this, Asiodu, (2009) noted the following “The need for strong

and responsible trade unions had been expressed at different times by trade unions

themselves in the form of resolutions adopted at their conferences and seminars and

via observations and recommendations by various government commissions and

tribunal of inquiry”.

Agalamanyi (2009:207) noted that for government to realize this motive of Strong

Central body of Labour Union, Several Commissions were set up. For instance,

Morgan Commission (1970 - 1), Mr. Justice D. Adebiyi Commission (1975) were all

set up to look into the problem(s) of these unions and make recommendations that

would lead to the amelioration of them. Based on the out come of (1975) Commission

set up by the military regime, the more than 1,000 Unions existing in the country then

were restructured into 42 along the industrial line.

As a follow up to this, government insisted on the formation of a labour centre for the

overall unions. In February 1978, the Nigeria Labour Congress was formed and

inaugurated. According to Agalamanyi Ibid, the 42 industrial unions became affiliates

of the Nigeria Labour Congress with legal backing of Trade Union (Amendment)

Decree No 22 of 1978. In1989, the Trade Unions were again restructured to become

29 affiliate unions to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Vision and Mission of NLC

Vision of the NLC

NLC’s Vision of Nigeria is that of a nation in which all workers irrespective of gender,

ethnicity or religion would be guaranteed a just and fair living wage, security of job an

greater opportunities for career advancement and fulfillment. It should be a future in

which national economic policies shall be geared towards job creation, steady

improvement of the general well – being of the citizens and equal participation of

workers in the economy. (Atchison, 2003)

Above all, it is a future in which industrial democracy and where collective bargaining

would be the main mechanism for determining working conditions and wages in the

country. Essential to this, is the ending of work place discrimination especially against

women and the enthronement of equal pay for equal jobs as well as equal

opportunities and advancement, such as future entails the establishment and deepening

of genuine rather than symbolic structures and institutions at all levels of society. This

entails the building of effective structures such as political parties, trade unions and

non – governmental organizations that will create political awareness as a basis of

strong economic foundation that should counter the absolute power of multinationals

whose grip on the economies of many nation states is increasing with the

intensification of globalization. The NLC envisions a secular Nigeria state and an

egalitarian modern industrial society that will be free democratically, united and just.

Pursuit of this vision requires that NLC / itself be transformed into a well –focused,

goal – oriented and pro –active organization. Its defining qualities should be internal

democracy, genuine representation, transparent interaction and accountability. It must

build its fighting capacity and power and those of its affiliate members.(Alalade,


Vision Statement:

Arising from the above, the vision statement of the NLC is as follows;

 Congress envisions a people – driven, people centered and people oriented process

of national economic management pursued through an activist development and

popularly controlled state. Congress envisions an end to economic oppression, the

crudity of capitalist exploitation and the crop of a bankrupt and predatory elite, which

has not demonstrated the capacity to address developmental challenges.(Asiodu,


 We want to create in Nigeria a just and democratic society where there is no

exploitation of any kind. We believe that the trade union movement is best placed to

provide leadership in building a just society and sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

 We see the Nigeria Labour Congress as the model of solidarity, independence,

dedication and a progressive class – conscious organization of workers.(Asiodu, 2009)

The Mission of the NLC:

The Mission of Nigeria Labour Congress is as follows: To promote and defend a

Nigerian nation that would be just, democratic, united, secular and prosperous. To

enhance the quality of life and improve the income and other working conditions of

workers.(Atchison, 2003)

 To promote and sustain the unity of Nigeria trade unions, to ensure total

unionization of all workers in both formal and informal sectors, irrespective of their

creed, state of origin, gender and their political beliefs. To promote and defend trade

union and human rights, the rule of law and democratic government. To promote and

defend democracy, probity and transparency in the trade unions and in civil

governance. Work for the industrialization and prosperity of the Nigerian nation and

ensure protection of jobs, full employment and human working environment. Strive to

create or influence legislation and public and corporate policies in the interest of

workers, disadvantage social groups and trade unions. To promote workers education

principally for developing trade union, political and class consciousness for

empowerment of workers in the Nigerian society. To cooperate with other

organization which the trade union may share common ideological and other

commitment. To establish international relationship and cooperation with international

labour movement. (Atchison, 2003)

Activities of NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress is the only central labour organisation without any

condition brought into force by the amendment Decree No 22 of 1978 for the purpose

of exercising powers of central labour organisation provided under section 34(1) of

Decree No.31 of 1973 as follows (Card & Krueger, 2005);

I. To represent the general interest of its members on any advisory body set up by

the government of the federation;

II. To give advice, encouragement of financial assistance to any of its members in

need thereof;
III. To collect and disseminate to its members information and advice on economic

and social matters;

IV. Promote the education of members of trade unions in the field of labour

relations and connected fields;(Card & Krueger 2005)

V. To render any other assistance provided for under the article of affiliation.

The Problems of Nigeria Labour Congress

Card & Krueger (2005) opined that Nigeria Labour Congress has both internal and

external problems. On the internal problem, some state chapters are emasculated by

the state government. The emasculation comes from using court injunctions to whittle

down any reaction against unjust policies and disengagements of workers in the civil

service. For instance, the immediate past civilian regime in Enugu State held NLC at

the Jugular for up word of (7) seven years without Labour raising its hand against that

regime. Several workers were illegally disengaged while those left on the service did

not fare better.

Secondly, due to leadership crisis, Nigeria Labour Congress finds it difficult to present

a solidified fight against some State Chief Executives. In the course of the crisis, some

of them one bought over, thus rendering the purpose and ideology of the members and

union prostrate. In some occasions, leadership crisis is occasioned by lack of

accountability and transparency of those at the top. This type of reality has made some

state councils to be pawns in the hands of some State Governors. The reality noted in

Enugu State earlier was replicated in Kogi State in 2010 where the State Governor, not

only ignored the striking teachers of primary and secondary schools for upward of six

months but refused to dialogue with them. The intervention of the National

headquarters saved the situation. (Card & Krueger 2005)

On the National level and externally too, NLC is being impaired by federal

government intrusion in its affairs especially as it concerns the election of leaders or

officers. For instance, the interference or intrusion was more noticeable during the

military regime of two decades. The event of 1993 presidential election in which the

military annulled it but labour stayed aloof is a pointer. In its editorial comment,

National Concord edition of June 24th 1994 titled, June 12, where does labour stand?

accused the leadership of NLC then led by Comrade Paschal Bafyau of having sold

out on the issue of June 12th . (Christopher and Moore 2014)

In another sphere, government especially at the National level intimidates, victimizes,,

and at the extreme clamps into detention some NLC’s officials for demanding for

improved working conditions or any other National issues. Daily Sun July 12,2005,

titled, “oshomiole detained”, recounted how the labour leader was detained State

Security Service Operatives after being ruffled by the same SSS operatives. The

detention was as a result of the labour leader’s insistence on government not to

unilaterally increase the price of fuel and other petroleum products.(Charles, 2015)

Instructively, government both at the state and federal level sees organized labour as

the side – kick to it and only institution that can kick against the obnoxious polices

and programme that will impoverish the masses. It is this conviction that makes

government to take extra – measure to little down the activities of organized labour.

This form of government behaviour against Nigeria labour congress which remains

the greatest problem against the progress of the union.(Christopher and Moore 2014)


1. Hassan Sumonu (President) 1978-1984

2 Ali Ciroma (President) 184-1988
3 Pascal Bayfau (President) 1988-1994
4 Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole (President) 1999-2007
5 Abdulwaheed Omar (President) 2007-2015
6 Mr. Ayuba Wabba (President) 2015-present
Source: Christopher and Moore 2014)


This study has indicated that in recent time, Industries are increasingly recognizing the

need for cordial relationship between management and trade union, which helps in

maintaining harmonious working environment and help to enhance the effective and

efficient productivity of the organization.

It is concluded that with trade unions in manufacturing company, there would be

efficient relationship between workers and management thereby bringing high

productivity through the effort of unions reducing turnover rate and workers

insecurity, increasing workers morale by enabling them have a collective voice to

address their problems and receive solutions and compensation, improved working


Management should ensure that when formulating and implementing policies that take

care of the interest of parties involved, having proper concern in the evaluation of

those policies so that they will not in turn bring about conflict situation between

management and trade union. The policies adopted should contain or cover areas as

industrial peace, job security, improved working environment and adequate facilities.

Collective bargaining which is a machinery for settling dispute should be employed by

both management and labour in any conflictual situation for the avoidance of

industrial action in order to endure harmonious relationship and industrial unity.


Based on the findings, the following recommendations and suggestions are


(1) Continuous and adequate awareness need to be created among the stakeholders in

industrial relations – trade unions, management and government of their role in

developing and sustaining a rancor free work environment. Organizational

performance is enhanced in an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration.

(2) Trade Unions should develop appropriate strategies/measures that will help

enlighten members on the need to be seriously committed to the furtherance of

organizational goals. Labour can only fulfil their individual and collective interests

when the organization thrive and accomplish its goal.

(3) To avoid high labour turnover, employees pay and welfare packages should be

improved. A motivated worker is a happy worker and a happy worker puts in his best

for the organization.

(4) Recognition of unions and their contributions brings harmonies working

relationship between the union and the management, therefore it is essential that such

relationship should be sought so as to enhance organizational productivity.

(5) Employers or management should try as much as possible to maintain a good and

cordial relationship with their employers/union members for the purpose of avoiding

clashes that may wrench the organisation thus affecting organizational productivity

and efficiency. (Christopher and Moore 2014)

(6) Union leaders should try as much as possible to utilize every peaceful avenue and

grievance procedures for negotiation and dialogue as well as for collective bargaining

before resorting to strike actions.

(7) To boost the workers morale towards organisational productivity the management

must identify itself, with the employees‘ demands especially on improved conditions

of services. Where this is addressed, it will go a long way in fostering understanding

between management and the union members or employees as well as in minimizing

the level of conflict between labour and management in the organization. (Bittel,

Bittel, & Ramsey, 2005)


Akinwale, E. J. A. (2009). Human Resources Management, An overview of Business

Lagos. Concept publication limited

Agba, S. Ikoh U. Ushie R. & Agba S. (2012). Personnel Management and Industrial
Relations. New Delhi: Prentice Hall.

Agbonifoh, B.A., A. B. Agbadudu, & F. I. O. Iyayi. (2005). Management, a

Nigerian Perspective. Ltd, Lagos. Malthouse Press

Alalade, S. (2004). “Industrial Relations in the Civil Service” In Damachi, U.G &
Fashoyin, T(eds).Contemporary Problems in Nigerian Industrial Relations.
Lagos: Development Press.

Asiodu, S. (2009). Industrial Relation in Nigeria Enugu SNAAP Press.

Atchison, T.J. (2003). Wage and Salary Administration in Personnel Nigeria.

Abuja. Spectrum Books Ltd

Bittel, L. R., Bittel, M. A. & Ramsey, J. E., (2005). Encyclopedia of

Professional management, Volume 1 and II, 2nd edition, Grolier International,

Card, D., & Krueger, A. B. (2005). Myth and measurement: The new
economics of the minimum wage. Princeton. Princeton University Press,

Christopher, W. Moore, Ph.D.(2014). Negotiation: Prospect and Problems.

International Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management.

Charles, N. Okolie (2015). Trade Unionism, Collective Bargaining and Nation

Building: The Nigerian Experience. International Journal of Industrial
Management. Vol.3.

Donaldson, M. (2009). Negotiations for Dummies. New York, NY: Hungry Minds, Inc.

Douty, H.M. (2010). The Wage Bargain and the Labour Market. Baltimore:
John Hopkins Ltd.

Farnham, S. & Pimlot, H. (2009). Understanding Industrial Relations,

London. Cassel Publication.

Farber, W. (2001). Contemporary Collective Bargaining. (3rd ed.) New Jersey:

Englewood Cliff