The Relationship Between Employers' Organisations and the State in Nigeria

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According to J.T. Dunlop (1958), an industrial relations system is comprised of the following actors: * A hierarchy of managers and their representatives in supervision (or employers and their associations) * A hierarchy of workers and any spokesmen (the workers and their unions), and * Specialized government agencies (or the state) concerned with workers, employers and their relationships.

Employer’s Organizations
Employer’s organizations as one of the participants in industrial relations developed quite late in Nigeria, in comparison with the workers’ unions. According to Yesufu (1962), in 1954, there were only 8 employers’ organizations in Nigeria dealing manly with regulating trade practices and services rather than collective bargaining and negotiations. This slow development were largely as a result of the slow growth of industries then, the failure of trade unions to galvanise the employers to relate seriously with them, and the government policies that were not encouraging.

Although the Trade Union Act of 1973 defined a trade union as ‘a combination of workers or employers’, it was actually the 1978 Trade Union (Amendment) Act, which galvanised them into action by actually recognizing 9 employers’ organization for purposes of relating with workers and the state in industrial matters.

One of the major reasons for formation and recognition of employers’ organizations is for them to have a common platform for containing trade unions, maintaining good industrial relations by educating members on the benefits of good employer-employee relations, designing and formulating policies relating to wages and salary administration, and influencing public policy.

The most notable employers’ organizations in Nigeria today include: * The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) * The Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN)
* The Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) * The Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) * Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN)

NECA relates with the state on the following issues:
* On industrial relations matters, to ensure peaceful industrial relations climate * Representation of Nigeria at the International Labour Organisation * It sometimes opposes government laws that would likely negatively affect its members * Provision of suggestions to the state on economic reforms e.g. pensions and minimum wage * Serves on various committees, boards and agencies of the state

NACCIMA relates with the state as follows:
* Specifically on trading and commercial matters
* Advises the state on matters affecting the general economy and business * Promotion of commercial and economic cooperation between Nigeria and the international business community * Serves on state boards and agencies

MAN relates with the State in the following areas:
* Production and manufacturing matters
* Monetary policies such as pressures for reduction of loan interest rates * Fiscal policies geared toward reduction of prohibitive taxes and import duties * Policy advocacy aimed at protection of small and infant industries * Representation on state boards e.g. Corporate Affairs Commission, NEPZA, etc

The state is both an employer and the institution that makes laws to regulate the activities of everyone else in the industrial system. As the third actor in industrial relations, and for national interest, the state regulates the relationships in the industry. The state also makes directive principles and state policies indicative of the obligations and responsibilities that the state should keep in focus while enacting laws and formulating policies, and these include: i) To fix...
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