1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The human element in the place of work makes the difference between man and any beast of burden or automation. This informs the emergence of Industrial or Labour Relations as a field of study and area of practice. Labour Relations is a fascinating subject, for it is about people and about people in the world of work. This world covers a vast range of types of production activities carried out in diverse surroundings in every country. The terms and conditions governing people at work, and the way these are arrived at, are the core of Labour Relations, and they are actually of crucial concern to the people involved. It is they who are not just close to the actions but immersed in it.
However, it is not only employees and managers “in a textile mill” who have interest in Labour Relations. The government of the country has an important stake, in part because it is an employer in its own right, also because it is the custodian of the public interest in Labour Relations policies and practices. “We associate Industrial Relations with the spread of industrialism, a process which began in Britain in the eighteenth century, with the first industrial revolution. It is topical, practical, and involves studying the working behaviours of a very large proportion of the people in any country, namely the labour force” (Johnson, 1983).
The issues of Labour Relations tend to shift from the question of the size and share of the proceeds of output to one of decision making:What and how much to produce, who to employ and dismiss, what benefits to institute, and who shall partake thereof. The problem is who shall make these decisions and how? Labour Relations is fundamentally concerned with the complex of power relationships and power sharing, economic and other decisions which affect or emanate from employment, conditions of employment and remuneration – between management, the employees (Trade union) and the state. “The central issue of Labour Relations is how to attain and maintain optimum level of productive efficiency and how to share the economic returns” (Yesufu, 1984).
In most organizations the sharing of the economic returns do not adequately reflect the contributions of the employees, simply because the managements in such organizations are usually obsessed with the development of the organization than that of the employees. This has had adverse economic effect on employees’ standard of living in a typical African country like Nigeria. “Workers throughout the world particularly in Africa, contributed immensely to the attainment of independence in their countries. But today, the greatest struggle is the eradication or alleviation of poverty, which recently became the campaign of halving global poverty level by 2050” (The Textile Worker, May 2005). A good economic working condition will make a good employee and consequently better output. One important way of achieving this is by wage supplements, that is, fringe benefits.
THE PRACTICE OF TRADE UNIONISM AND THE IMPROVEMENT 0F ECONOMIC WORKING CONDITIONS IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF TEXTILE, GARMENT AND TAILORING WORKERS OF NIGERIA, KADUNA.