Industrial Relation as a Veritable Instrument for the Settlement of Disputes in an Organisation

Industrial Relation as a Veritable Instrument for the Settlement of Disputes in an Organisation

Industrial relation have become a subject of serious interest.  Thus so many practitioners, resource persons and writers have viewed it from different angles. Ezeaku, Ndinechi and Osisioma (1986-126) see industrial relations as study of job regulations that deals with Nile which govern employment and includes a complex of private and public activities, operating in an environment which is concerned with the allocation of rewards to employment for their services and the conditions under which the services are rendered.

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Armstrong G views industrial relation as the intertwining activities of trade union, employees and the state.  This is in line with Lievine’s definition which states that industrial relation is the respective roles of management labour and government in the process which relates workers and workers to work.

Nwandu (200.1) noted that Yesufu sees industrial relations as phrase for the relationships which exist between men of work of different levels of the authority hierarchy.  He traced its origin to the era of industrialism in Britain when new rising industrial class become employers the suppliers of labour, the workers conflict ensured our demands by workers for better wages and condition of workers against the aim of employers minimize or optimize their investment.

In effects, Yesufu is taking as that of industrial relations and polices of power in the work place but he warned that a good industrial relation must be the product of both employers and employees.

Ezeoke et al (1986.26) emphasize that in order to give industrial relation a theoretical construct Dunlop T in 1958 introduced what he called a system analysis upon which the definition is based

The analytical focus introduce network rules that govern the work place and the work community and the nature of those rules and the manner in which they are formulated, administrated and changed at any point in time.

He noted the par hapants or actors in industrial relations as:

1.       A hierarchy of workers and their representative or representative


2.       A hierarchy of workers and their spokesmen

3.       Specialized government and agencies that may include specialized

private agencies  created by the first two factors.

Industrial relations therefore embraces relations and interactions between the employers or management and employees either as individual or as a group between and his trade union .

The interaction between the trade union and another unions and between the union, management and the states are equally or central importance and fall within the scope o industrial relations.

Nwandu (2002.2) noted that industrial relations is fundamentally concerned with a complex of power relationships and power sharing the economic and other decisions which affect or emanate from employment and remuneration between the management, the employees of trade union and the state.  She noted further that industrial relation is concerned with the purpose of enterprises and how to, by effe4ctive participation in work, place the decision making and find greater self fulfillment in the work situation in terms of  specific content.

Therefore, industrial relations or concerned work labour problems or all their reunification.   For example:

Condition of wor5k, hours of work, shifts etc.

Social security sickness and old age benefits, employment injury compensation.

Employees development training of up grading and promotions.  In terms of institutions industrial relations would be concerned with organizations which have or assume responsibility for dealing with the problems mentioned above.


In the course of this review of related literature, conflict and dispute will be used inter-changeably to mean the same thing.

Conflict is inherent in any organizational processes such as he boss wants more production, subordinates wants consideration, customers demand faster deliveries, peers request schedule delays, consultants suggest change, operators resist change.   The rule book prescribe a formula, the staff says it will not work.

Conflict becomes apparent in the form of dispute laxing the form of strikes.

Bittel (1986.552) defines conflict as a struggle over values or claims to status, power and scarce resources, in which the aims of the conflicting parties are not only to gain the desired values but also to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals such.  Such conflicts may take place between individuals groups or between individuals and groups.

He also saw conflict as a situation in which a person is motivated to engage in two or more mutually exclusive activities.  Conflict is an important element of social interaction.  Far from being a negative factor and “tear apart”.

Conflict as he said may contribute in many ways to the maintenance of groups cementing of personal relation

Bittel (19) believes that conflict is a common occurrence in life.  Conflict occur where a desired goal or objective is not reasonably available.  It takes place within a person, between people between organizational structure and between organizations.

He also pointed out that conflict occurs at different levels.  Firstly, the individual levels where and individual will experience frustration, when barriers hamper the alignment of a desired objective.

For example, a desired promotion or transfer which is derived because of budget limitations will result in frustration for the person which will lead to individual conflict.

Secondly, a conflict at the organizational level which cannot be avoided.  Group tends to believe in different but consistent ways, depending on whether the consider themselves winners or looser of conflict.  According to him, there are stages of conflict inherent in the society.  This he classified as follows:

a.       Conflict has its genesis in the early latent stage.  The element necessary for conflict are present in this stage but they are not always visible.  Where a latent conflict condition exists, one would probably find some combination of general uneasiness.  Perhaps apprehension, differences of opinion, different values and limited resources.

b.       The next stage occurs when the conflict is perceived and experienced by those involved.  In this stage, people will feel more tense, hostile and aggressive.  They will begin to see the dimension of the conflict taking shape.

c.       The final stage is one of manifest conflict where people are actually fighting.

Ubeku (1983.157) defines that conflict as indeed a since guanon for survival for instant, in an individualized institution, independence is asserted by acts of criticizing contradiction, competitions and conflicts.  He expressed two schools of thoughts which he called the plural or conflict school and the “co-operation school.

Apart from the distinction of conflict between individual dispute could further be distinguished between those over right and those over interests.

Disputes over right are those over the application or interpretation of provisions laid down in contracts or law or administration regulations.  Conflicts over interest concern demand or proposal for fresh collective agreement or unveils of agreement or of inclusion of new items.

From the researcher’s point of view, conflict means the disagreement that exists between labour and capital, where capital referees to the employers of labourer and labour refers to the workers or employee due to some circumstances prevalent in the area.  There is existence of conflict which can take may forms.


Kear and Siegal (1954.88) suggest the unpleasant ant and physical difficult jobs give rise to conflict in the organization.  According to them, if the job is physically different, exhaustive, tedious, boring but to mention a few as well as unpleasant, unskilled and casual in nature, will tough inconsistence workers and they will be inclined to strike.

This is more often if the job is repetitive in nature that workers do not find any innovation.

Tarist (1963:4) emphasized that work relation should be reviewed as a structure with a socio-technical system.   He states the implication of this as “a work organization must have social and psychological properties that are independent of technology” if the work environment is such that is hostile to its employees, this will result to conflict as employees shall always try to make sure that at least the work environment in which they operate is near hospitality.

The cause of conflict dispute according to Mehortra is grouped into economics, moral and political.  This he enumerated as follows:

ECONOMIC CAUSES:        This refers wants of proper adjustment of wages to the cost of living.  Related to this is the difficulty of evolving a definite wage policy and want to stabilization of prices at a point which would maintain employment at the highest level and stabilize cost of living.  He also believed that there ar4e conflict connected with the system of reward of labour in cash or in kind or both and with working conditions, including working hours.

MORAL AND POLITICAL CAUSES:   according to him, some conflicts/disputes have moral causes and it includes dispute related to working conditions and failure on the part of the employers to provide adequate measures for the welfare of the workers, both inside and as well as outside the establishments.

Political causes he found also to emanate from the problem of differences in ideologies, as some disputes with political content relates to matters about union solidarity to trade union jurisdiction in workers, recruitment of labour, representation of workers in settlement of working conditions.

Other causes of conflict which are independent of the job were also sighted by Mehrota.  One of such causes is maladjustment of individuals.

There are other causes of conflict which include money and among other things, that is, where a sum of money is to be shared amongst managers and workers the ratio of profit to wages is bound to result to conflict.  He stressed those different classes of job extracts some level of pay.  The right to do a particular job can lead to disagreement between groups.

Furthermore, he states that the goals of managers are concerned with efficiency and that of workers with security.  He went on also to stress that down ward fluctuation of a company’s product in the market threatens workers security of their job.  In this case, if the union feels that management is doing nothing to arrest it, such a situation could result to conflict.

This includes poor working condition.  He says that workers seek for more say in decision which affects them.

In addition, subordinates are resent that there is always a superior about them.

Ubeku emphasized that the application of interpretation of provisions of collective agreement is also a constant source of conflict at work.

This bring about the fact that not until the promulgation of the trade union act of 1973 which empowers the ministers of labour, recognize and refused to bargain were major sources of conflict.

He further went to divide the causes of conflict under two perspectives:

1.       Individual Grievances:   According to him, these are those that emanate

or breach of the right.  These include promotion, award of annual

increment, or the implementation of individual condition of


2.       Collective Grievances:   these are the most causes of conflict in an

organization.  It emanates from the common way which is the refusal of management to grant a demand made by the union.

Such issues normally include longer and salaries, housing allowances and other fringe benefits.

There is also the common complaint by workers in regards to  victimization or anti-union discrimination in which case, workers also took active part in trade unionism were allegedly discrimination promotion.  He further stated that these charges always are difficult to prove because in each case, it is the manager who reports on performance and it is he who decide who should be promote.

Finally, he occur in the work place may be those concerning situations not governed by ruled.

Romana (1987.166) is of the opinion that under causes of conflict in business organization because contemporary organizations emphasize drastic shift not only on new and different technologies but also on different science and logic.

Turner et al (1957:147) argued that the ideas of conflict or dispute are based on power theory.  The differences in power between management and union cause conflict.  If the union controls less power, then conflict is regular, but the greater the power, then conflict is reduced.

Thus, from the foregoing, it becomes clear that power as well as other factors contributes to the causes of conflict.


Collective bargaining has to do with the relationship between employers, meeting through their management representatives and organized labour.

Sydney and Beatrice Webb as quoted as any negotiation between trade unions on one hands and either an employer or an employer’s association on the other hand.

The industrial labour organization (ILO) defines it as “negotiation about an employer, group of employees or one or more  employer’s organization on one hand and one or more representatives of workers organization on the other hand with a view to reach an agreement”

According to Nigerian labour act  1974, collective bargaining is the process of riving or attempting to arrive at a collection agreement originally, it concerns negotiations between the organization, union of workers or senior staff on the one hand and the employers association on the other hand, focusing mainly but not exclusively on the issues that are not regarded as belonging to the list of management prerogatives.

The following issues according to DS Beach (1980:70) are the issue or topic commonly appearing in union management agreements:

a.       Union recognition and scope of bargaining units

b.       Management rights or management security

c.       Union security

d.       strikes and lock-outs

e.       Union activities and responsibilities

f.       Wages

g.       Working time and time off policies

h.       Job right and seniority

i.        Grievance handling and arbitration

j.        Health and safety

k.       Insurance and benefit programmes etc.

in conclusion the two parties have to come into agreement before any resolution takes place.  Both parties should be allowed to air their views before solutions are found for the impending issues.

So, collective bargaining is really desirous for effective and efficient resolution of conflict in an organization.

Agreements has to be reached concerning the hours of work, salaries of workers and other conditions of living to suit both the parties involved.


According to sill, the procedure4s include mediation arbitration, investigat5ion and adjudication.

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