Disputes resolution through social dialogue: evidence from Nigerian organizations.

AuthorObisi, Chris
PositionReport - Statistical data

Social dialogue tries to create an objective process of bargaining in order to protect the interest of the organization which includes employers, employees and the environment. It would be useful to examine in depth the relevant components of the social dialogue and how they have imparted positively to the development of harmonious industrial relations in the country. This study takes data from a 280 sample size drawn from a population of 500 employees selected from 10 companies in Lagos state. It found out a significant relationship between collective process and success. It was recommended that employers and employees along with the government should consistently engage in a social dialogue process to improve the working conditions of labor and industrial harmony in the country.


In recent times, rafts of procedures that tend to emphasize the importance of industrial harmony at work places are being developed globally. The implication of this dynamic labor market process is that employers and employees in conjunction with the government should consistently engage or participate in consultations and negotiations designed to improve the employability and productivity of workers. Consultation and negotiation conditions are created to support significantly the social dialogue structures because of the need to establish commitment through collective bargaining and most importantly to resolve such issues as wage, welfare packages, hour of work, hiring costs etc that are important in employees productivity. Ghosal and Westney (2005) posit that organizational culture and harmonious industrial relations can help in ensuring order in the organizations and cohesion of organizational members.

Social dialogue is a broader framework necessitating the development of harmonious industrial relations. An effective social dialogue has been explained to include tripartism, tripartism "plus", bipartism and civil dialogue. The system of social dialogue has been spelled out not as a description of the actual benefit process but show how the various objective processes of bargaining could be coordinated and pursued without interference with one another. The most striking evaluation of various objectives of social dialogue structure pertains to conditions enabling its success. These enabling conditions can be more effective in dealing with the issues that may be discussed or negotiated in the process.

In the context of this study we shall examine the impact of such conditions that are likely to prevail before effective social dialogue can take place. They are: existence of collective process, stable relationship, flexible attitude, participation of workers in management, mutual trust, continuous process, problem solving attitudes (Obisi, 2015; ILO, 2013a). These conditions do not control the process itself but are instrumental to actuate prevailing tendencies involved in consultations or negotiations process. Therefore the consultations or negotiations process must be controlled by the central focus of these conditions which can over the process period adjust the tempo and quality of consultations or negotiations to the needs of the parties involved (Bosch, 2002).

Literature Review

The purpose of social dialogue within an organizational setting is to protect the interest of the organization which in this perspective includes the employers, employees and even the environments. The various social dialogue processes create buffers between the workers and their organizations and employment relationships which are designed to guarantee workers an income at least for a transitional period when they are not working because of illness, accident, welfare packages, reasonable hour of work, acceptable recruitment and firing conditions.

An effective social dialogue could help to improve productivity in the work places and restore general industrial harmony. It is defined as all types of negotiations, consultations and exchange of information between representatives of governments, employers and workers on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy (ILO, 2013a). It has also been referred to as a collaborative relationship between the tripartite partners irrespective of whether consultations are formal or informal or whether the dialogue is institutionalized of informal (Obisi, 2015). In doing so, social dialogue arrangement would provide a focal point for new and harmonious employer-employee relations to emerge thereby making conflict and work disruption option a less realistic proposition (ILO, 2013a).

Social dialogue specific characteristic is its ability to identify variety of opinion and expectation. These circumstances pose considerable challenges for the creation of effective social dialogue structures that can provide a strong mechanism that employees need to voice their views. Improving the quality of social dialogue through the creation of enabling conditions will help the consultations or negotiations parties to reach consensus and it's important for organizational productivity as well as environmental well-being. However, it has been said that it will not prevent conflict or industrial dispute from growing exponentially or indefinitely so long as the parties to the dialogue continue to show divergent views (Norman, 2014). The issues of conflict that often affect the standard provisions of employment represent large opportunities to evolve a strong and effective social dialogue features which the organizations need to rely upon to eliminate or minimize industrial conflict (Barrientos, 2007).

In whatever perspective it may be viewed, social dialogue structures comprising tripartism, tripartism "plus", bipartism and civil dialogue stand and operate for industrial relations issues. This is so because people (employers, employees and government representatives) dialogue due to the existence of conflict in work places. According to a leading U.S. authority cited by Kochan (1998) industrial relations starts from an assumption that an enduring conflict of interest exists between workers and employers. In the light of all these developments, a review of the modalities to be followed to resolve the conflict must focus on the nature, characteristics and conditions impacting on the social dialogue and how they could be improved to solve the problem on hand to start with. Social dialogue structures comprising tripartism, tripartism "plus" bipartism and civil dialogue should be explained in a way that opts to reflect the intentions of the study. Tripartism is viewed as one of the main forms of social dialogue. It is a foundational principle and fundamental value of the international labor organization and has always been seen at the very heart of the organization's work.

ILO Thesaurus cited by ILO (2013b) defined tripartism as the interaction of government, employers and workers (through their representatives) as equal and independent partners to seek solutions to issues of common concern. Tripartism "plus" is described as an extension of tripartism by opening up dialogue to include civil society groups. This is perhaps done to gain a wider perspective and consensus on issues beyond world of work such as protection of the environment...

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