By Innocent Anaba
Lagos — Retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice George Oguntade, yesterday, cautioned that any country that is unable to efficiently manage its industrial dispute was bound to fail.
Similarly, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohamemd Uwais, warned that when industrial disputes are not properly addressed, they lead to far reaching negative consequence for the society.
The two jurists spoke in Lagos, at the 6th Negotiation and Conflict Management Group, NCMG African ARD Summit.
Uwais said: “If we allow industrial dispute to degenerate, it may lead to depression on the economy and when such dispute gets out of hand, it could lead to social crisis. To promote industrial harmony, the decision must shift to promoting bargain by alternative dispute resolution and provide appropriate mechanism for effective negotiation.”
Lagos lawyer, Mr Bamide Aturu, who spoke at the summit, said “in order to put in place a sound, efficient and effective dispute resolution mechanism, a lot depends on the attitude of the three main parties in the world of work, namely: government, labour and the employers.”
“The current system encourages parties to resolve disputes by having resort first to internal mechanisms. The UK system also encourages this practice. The implication of this, however, is that parties must take seriously the ‘soft laws’, that is, the Collective Agreements. Happily the National Industrial Court, NIC, which now has exclusive jurisdiction in respect of all labour matters enforces them unlike the regular courts which took the view that they were binding only in honour.
“A situation in which government breaches agreements it voluntarily reaches with labour unions such as the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement the present system of using internal mechanism may not count for much. NIC must show manifest firmness in dealing with violations of Collective Agreements by parties to them subsequently,” he added.