Labour Unions’ Struggle with Neo-liberal Policies in Nigeria

Akinwale, A.A (2014-07)

Article

Antagonism has become a feature of labour unions’ relations with the Nigerian government. The implementation of neo-liberal policies worsens the situation, thereby hindering industrial peace in Nigeria. As labour unions and government disagree over the implementation of neo-liberal policies, the relationship between the two parties has become hostile with adverse implications for socio-economic development in Nigeria. This article examines labour unions’ struggle with neo-liberal policies in Nigeria via an exploratory research design, involving in-depth interviews and structured questionnaire used to collect data individually from 440 respondents, including members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG). The findings showed that the majority of the respondents (91.5%) blamed the Nigerian government for implementation of neo-liberal policies. Many respondents (96%) observed some negative impacts of privatization and commercialization, including inflation, job insecurity, unemployment, and poor living standards. Most respondents (99.2%) agreed that their living standard had fallen persistently. Many respondents (93%) believed that labour unions would continue to use strikes to express opposition to undesirable policies of the Nigerian government. The majority of the respondents (86.9%) denied the effectiveness of government ban on strikes. Besides the use of strikes, many respondents (73.5%) called for demonstration, mass protests, and collaboration with civil society organisations. The findings reflected labour unions’ dissatisfaction with implementation of neo-liberal policies in Nigeria. There is urgent need for a substantial improvement in government’s relations with labour unions to promote industrial peace and development in Nigeria.