I am highly privileged to stand before you all this morning to be your guest Speaker at this 27th National Conference/AGM of the Institute of Health Service Administrators of Nigeria, Ogun State Branch.

It is always a great privilege for me to stand before professionals like me with a view to knowing the current situation and project further for the professionalism to thrive.

Most often, professionals are usually not allowed to show case the full strength of their callings, when in most cases their appointment are usually regulated by their respective employees, who in most cases are selfish. Consequently, the professionals suffer in all ramification thereby creating unhealthy industrial relations and conflictive atmosphere.

May I submit that regardless of any establishment any professional finds himself/herself, a professional is always to be known and seen as a professional.

Institute of Health Service Administrator of Nigeria must rise up to the situation of entrenching professionalism in all its members. Even in the midst of serious Industrial imbroglio, we must always be seen as professionals that is well organized on a very sound footing.  

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN GENERAL PERSPECTIVE
Industrial relations is otherwise known as Employment Relationship. It is usually so called because of the importance of non – industrial employment relationships
(1). This move is sometimes seen as further broadening of the human resource management trend. In the real sense of industrial relations it points directly to the relationship between the Employer and Employee, which more often than not such relationship is usually characterized by or with incessant disputes or conflicts. Noteworthy is the fact that neither the Nigerian Labour Law nor Trade Dispute Act has defined either the labour dispute or industrial conflict. The Court of Appeal Per Niki Tobi JCA(2) has expounded various theories in plethora of cases(3) with a view to situating properly Trade Dispute within the context of industrial relations or labour union.

By extention Industrial relations has become one of the most delicate and complex problems of modern industrial society. Industrial progress is impossible without cooperation of labour and harmonious relationships. Therefore, it is in the interest of all to create and maintain good relations between employees (labour) and employers (Management).

The contemporary conception of industrial relations presupposes any productive activity in which an industrial (or group of individuals is or are engaged. By relations, it means the relationships that exist within the industry between the employer and his workmen.

The term Industrial relations explains the relationship between employees and managements which stem directly or indirectly from union – employer relationship Industrial relations are the relationship between employees and employers within the organizational settings. The field of industrial relations looks at the relationship between management and workers, particularly groups of workers represented by a union. Industrial Relations are basically the interactions between employers, employees and the government and the institutions and associations through union such interactions are mediated

The term Industrial Relations has a broad as well as a narrow outlook. Originally Industrial Relations was broadly defined to include the relationships and interactions between employers and employees. From this perspective Industrial relations covers all aspects of employment relationship including human resource management, employee relations, and union – management (or labour) relations. Now its meaning has become more specific and restricted. Accordingly, industrial relations pertains to the study and practice of collective bargaining, trade unionism and labour management relations, while human resource management is a separate, largely distinct field that deals with non – union employment relationship and the personnel practices and policies of employers.

The relationship which arises at and out of the workplace generally include the relationship between individual workers, the relationship between workers and their employers, the relationship between employers and workers formed to promote their respective interests and the relations between those organizations at all levels. Industrial relations also include the processes through which these relationships are expressed (such as collective bargaining, workers participation in decision – making and grievance and dispute settlement and the management of conflict between employers, workers and Trade Unions, when it arises(4).

Conflict Resolution on the otherhand is conceptualized as the methods and process involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict. Often, committed group members attempt to resolve group conflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies to the rest of the groups (e.g. intentions, reasons for holding certain beliefs), and by engaging in collective negotiations(5). Ultimately, a wide range of methods and procedures for addressing conflict exist including but not limited to:

The term ‘Conflict Resolution’ may also be used interchangeably with ‘Dispute Resolution’ where arbitration and litigation processes are critically involved. Furthermore, the concept of conflict resolution can be to encompass the use of non – violent resistance measures by conflicted parties in an attempt to promote effective resolution. Example here is large scale civil resistance campaign.

By extention, conflict resolution terminology is more often than not synonymous with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which refers to any process or collections of processes established to resolve dispute without trial or violence. The term ‘ADR’ is often used to refer to a broad category of ADR processes such as negotiation, conciliation, mediation, settlement conferences, arbitrations, consensus building and community, conferencing. In addition, ADR includes conflict management and prevention systems, such as an ombudsman office, which can help people decide what dispute resolution process they want to use. Often, one or more ADR processes may be appropriate for resolving certain kinds of dispute.

  1. See Forsyth D.R. (2009) “Group Dynamics (5th ed) pacific grove, C.A.: Brooks /Cole
  2. See K. Thomas “Conflict and Negotiation processes in organization “In M. Dunnette and L. Hough (eds) Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (pals Atto. C.A. Consulting Psychologists press 1992) p. 653
  3. See L. Pondry “Organizational Conflict: “concepts and models “Administrative science quarterly, 12 (1967) p. 303
  4. See Olowu “conflicts and conflicts resolution” Ife Psychologia Vol. 9 No. 3, 2001 P. 119.
  5. See A. Kornhauser, R. Dubblin and A. Ross (eds) “Industrial Conflicts” (New York: McGraw. Hill 1954) P. 14.

However, according to Kenneth Thomas, an expert in conflict and negotiation processes, conflict is “the process that begins when one party perceives that the other was negatively affected, or is about to be negatively affected, something that he or she cares about”(6). This is a very psychological definition focusing on perception. Other authors in the organizational behavior literature insist on the large subjective element of conflict. For example L. Pondy argues that “behavior should be defined as conflictful if and only if, some or all of the participants perceive of it to be conflictful(7).

Sola Olowu of the Centre for Psychological Studies, Ife, defines conflicts as “a perceived incompatibility of goals, what one party wants, the other party sees as harmful to his interest”(8).

One must keep in mind, however that conflict is purely subjective. People’s perceptions are usually a personal interpretation of an objective situation. It is true that perceptions may not correspond to reality. Speaking long ago about industrial conflict. A Kornhauser, R. Dubin and A. Ross Pointed out thus.

“The perceived relationships obviously depend not only on the ‘economic facts of life’ but also on the social interpretation current among the people involved. It is possible, at least for limited periods of time, worker and management may falsely believe that they have conflicting interest, when in fact, no objective basis for such beliefs exists – conversely, they may accept a doctrine at complete harmony even though genuine grounds for conflict are present(9)

Potential Areas of Conflict in the Health Sector of Nigeria

  1. Inadequate Medical Personnel: A conscious look at the accessibility level of Nigerians to medical practitioners clearly show the gross scarcity of these individuals to the large population of this country. For a population of about 89million in 1991, Nigeria had only 20,210 medical doctors which give a ratio of one doctor to about 4,400 people. Similarly, with only about 106,453 hospital beds in 1991, bed space per head in Nigeria was at the ratio of one bed to 800 person. The situation currently is more pathetic than the above.

Let me reiterate here that my clamour at this juncture is not only to call for additional medical doctors, also to include all those individuals or personnel needed to ensure adequate health care delivery including but not limited to Health Service Administrators as well.

Where this is not looked into or provided timeously NMA and MAHNUM are usually at logger heads with the government with untold hardship on the citizenry  

  1. Inadequate Health Care System and Facilities: The Federal and State Governments are the major providers of basic health facilities and services in Nigeria. They often reportedly provide substantial sums of money for various aspects of the sector in the country. Those areas most affected are manpower development, purchase and distribution of drugs and vehicles, construction of new specialist hospitals, National Campaign against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, mass inoculation of adults and youths against dreadful diseases like cholera and tuberculosis, mass immunization of children against the killer diseases, mass education on modern personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and appropriate solid waste disposal and management methods and family planning.

Where all the above are lacking and provisions for them are mere on papers than being properly executed for the betterment of the masses, there will always be industrial conflict as against harmonious industrial relations(10)  

  1. Poor Remuneration: The Medical Doctors are presumed to be most remunerated in the scheme of things. But am aware of various disparities in the emolument, allowances and other benefits they are entitled. I submit that any agitation of any sort in this regard must be always be for all individual responsible for good health care delivery, including but not limited to Health Service Administrators.
  1. Pervasive Corruption: Corruption is defined by transparency international as “Misuse of entrusted power for private gain”. Corruption occurs when public officials who have been given the authority to carry out goals which further the public good, instead use their position and power to benefit themselves and those close to them.
  1. See J.O. Oyebanji “Health Condition in Nigeria available on online Nigeria.com

Corruption is a pervasive problem affecting the Nigerian Health Sector. At the level of individuals and households, there is mounting evidence of the negative effects of corruption on health and welfare of citizens.

There is increasing interest among Nigerians and international donors on how corruption affects health care access and outcomes, and what could be done to combat corruption in the health sector(11)

Where corruption militated against adequate functioning of the health sector, the health union will always be at logger heads with the authority or employers.

  1. Rivalry among the Health Personnel: There is general perception that usually priority is given to Medical Doctors over and above other medical personnel, which usually end in conflict situation.

Health sector and the use of strike action

The right to strike, that is, the right of employees collectively to withdraw their labour, is regarded by many as an integral part of collective bargaining. According to Lord Denning M.R, Strike is “a concerted stoppage of work by men done … with a view to improving their wages or condition of employment or giving vent to a grievance or marking a protest about something or other or supporting or sympathizing with other workmen in such endeavour, it is distinct from a stoppage, which is brought about by an external event such as bomb scare or by apprehension of danger”(12)

  1. See Dr. Rabiatu Hadi “Corruption in the Nigerian Health Sector. Time to Right the Wrongs available on .
  2. See trans shipping corporation V. Gireen wich Inc. (1975) All ER 989
  3. Wages
  4. Hours at work
  5. Terms and conditions of works
  6. Pension
  7. Retrenchment of workers following the closing down of a factory
  8. Lay – off
  9. Discharge or dismissal
  10. Re-instatement of dismissed employee and compensation for them.
  11. Non-payment of personal allowance

Let me say here that the strike must be about terms of employment and physical condition of work(13)

In N.U.R.T.W Vs Ogbodo, the Court of Appeal held that for a dispute to come within the purview of Trade Dispute Act, it must involve a trade as distinct from a political dispute for example boycott of goods and services of a foreign country. The general source of Industrial Conflict are problems out of