THE EFFECT OF ASUU AND ASUP STRIKE ACTION ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN NIGERIA

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THE EFFECT OF ASUU AND ASUP STRIKE ACTION ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE/BACKGROUND

The origin of labour unionism dates back to the Eighteen Century and the industrial revolution in Europe. During this time there was a huge surge of new workers into the work place that needed representation. Labour unionism is a global phenomenon. In Nigeria, Labour unionism has been part of the industry since 1912, when government employee formed a Civil Service Union. According to Wikipedia (2015) this organization became the Nigeria union of Civil Servants after the merger of the protectorate of Northern and Southern Nigeria. In 1931, two other major unions were founded the Nigeria Railway workers union and Nigeria Union of Teachers. As workers continued to increase and need for representation rises, the need for a mother union was inevitable hence, the merger into one big or mother union which will oversee all the activities of all workers under one umberella body known as the Nigeria Labour Congress (N.L.C). As a mother body, the (N.L.C) was formally constituted as the only national federation of trade unions in Nigeria 1978.According to Silverman (2004) since its formation, the N.L.C has been a major voice for the Nigeria workers under it, and has given birth to many other Industrial Unions both in the field of health, agriculture, finance and education. Its major aim is to protect, defend and promote the right, wellbeing, interest of all workers, trade unions and pensioners in the Country and this, it has continued to achieve through its various aims and branches.

A union therefore According to oxford advanced dictionary is an organization established by and for workers to pursue collective work place goal; wage, benefits, work rules, power etc. Hence, the formation of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as a branch of industrial (Labour) union has brought about some pronounced changes in the academic system of tertiary institutions in the Country. Seen by many as a blessing, others see it as a clog in the wheel of the Nigerian academic system and medium to discourage students. As long as the Academic Staff Union and Employer (Government) represented by politicians are at variance in belief and philosophy there is bound to be industrial disputes between the two. The action and reaction of the academic staff union (ASUU, ASUP and COEASU ) in recent years to attitude of the government towards the past agreements, conditions of service, remuneration, emoluments and entitlements as prescribed by UNESCO such as; university autonomy and integration of polytechnic academic staff had led to frequent clashes and subsequent industrial actions by ASUU, ASUP and specifically COEASU. These unions have often resolved to strike actions as the last resort to balance the power between their staff and the government when bargaining and confrontations fail to yield desired result. Implying that the only language the government at all level understands is strike.

According to Wikipedia (2015) the Union has been active in struggle against the military regime during the 1980s, when it frequently embarked on national strike to obtain fair wages and University autonomy and after several struggles and opposition by the government and agreement was reached on 3rd September 1992 that met several of the unions demand including right of workers to collective bargaining. The union organized further strike 1994 and 1990 against the dismissal of staff by the Abacha Military regime.

Disruption in academic programme becomes a natural consequence of each industrial action or strike. Hence, normal teaching and learning are stalled and therefore, most students are prone to diverse activities such as sexual immorality, cyber scan, pool betting, watching of movies, and engaging in unnecessary gossip etc, rather than reading their books and soon, they forget about academic and lose interest and focus of educational demands which in long run affects their learning capability. Learning as adduced by Wikipedia (2015) is the act of acquiring new or modifying and reinforcing existing knowledge, behaviour, skills, values, or preference and may involve synthesizing, different types of information and according to Tanner (1980) it is done under the auspices of the school.

Odubela (2012) concludes that effective learning or an enhanced performance is achieved by successful coverage of the course outline timely and before the examination. This is rarely achieved when there is strike action. Based on this, the researchers are of the opinion that disruption in academic program as caused by strike action exposes students to depression, frustration and emotional and psychological trauma, lack of preparedness on the side of the learner or student and lost of motivation which leads to societal vices and unproductiveness and non conducive learning environment in the tertiary institution in Country.Just recently, staff of A.I.F.C.E under the umbrella of COEASU embarked on a seven months strike over non-payment of migration and other demands thereby crippling academic activities and forcing the students into compulsory holidays where most of these ills were inevitable. This study therefore intends to examine the influenceof strike action on the academic performance of students.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

All over the world, the tertiary institution both Universities, Colleges of Education and Polytechnics also known as the Ivory towers is regarded as the bedrock of knowledge and intellectualism, and most appropriate ground for incubation of future leaders.

However, over the last thirty years in Nigeria, the University system has witnessed an unprecedented industrial unrest and so many official assaults than other social institution. Statistics from the National University Commission (2002) revealed that since 1992 the union (ASUU) has embarked on strike over 23 times to press home its demands. Just as in all Industrial Conflicts, strike have significant wider, social consequence. Many have argued that those in authority see the tertiary institutions as burden and as an institution to be exploited and left desolate. To change the impression, the union has embarked on several strike actions with the recent one that involved the Colleges of education and lasted for eight months and now more than one year after there have been economic waste, delayed graduation, unbalanced academic calendar and non-challant attitude among staff and students which in essence has resulted in poor academic input and output and lack of productivity in the society and Country at large.

This study therefore, aims at examining the influence of industrial (strike) action on the academic performance of students in tertiary institution with specific references to A.I.F.C.E Owerri.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

Generally, the purpose of the study is to find out how strike action influences the academic performance of student in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Specifically it seeks to:

  1. Ascertain the extent to which strike action influences the academic performance of students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
  2. Identify the causes of strike action by the various unions in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
  3. Suggest possible solution to the incessant strike action in our tertiary institutions.

 SIGNIFICANCE

This study will enable the stakeholders in education sector to know the extent to which frequent and prolonged strike affects the academic programmes of the students in tertiary institution. It will also help people to know why the union embark on strike. This work will encourage the students to invest their time wisely during strike to avoid poor academic out put after the strike.

The Labour Unions will benefit from this work also as it will help them to seek alternative means of pressing home their demands.The government will also learn to avert the adverse effect posed by strike action on the educational sector and the economy as a whole.

 

RESEARCH QUESTION

  1. To what extent does strike action influence the academic performance of students?
  2. What are the causes of strike action in tertiary institutions in Nigeria?
  3. What are the possible solutions to strike actions?

SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The study would examine the influence of industrial (strike) action on the academic performance of students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria with particular reference to Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri Imo State. This study will be carried out among the six schools within the College which includes; School of Social Science, School of Art, School of Natural Science, School of General Studies School of Education, School of Agric and vocational studies respectively.

 CHAPTER TWO/LITERATURE REVIEW

This chapter is concerned with the review of related literatures. This review will be carried out under different sub-headings which include: Conceptual Frame Work, Theoretical framework, Empirical studies and summary of literatures reviewed.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

Concept of Strike

According to oxford advanced learners Dictionary strike action refers to a period of time when an organized group of employees of a company stops working bcause of a disagreement over pay or conditions. Strike also called industrial action or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employees grievances. Etymologically, the word strike was first used in 1768, when sailors in support of demonstration in London, “struk” or removed the top gallant sails of merchant ship at port, thus crippling the ships. Officially the word is used as “work stoppage or Industrial dispute”. The first historically confirmed account of strike action was towards the end of the 20th dynasty, under pharaoh Ramses III in ancient Egypt on 14 November 1152 BC. The artisans of the Royal Nacropolis at Dire Elmedina walked off their jobs because they had not been paid (Wikipedia 2015).

Ozurumba (1997) defines strike actions as a state of inactivity in an organization. Asolu (2010) opined that strike action is an action taken to disrupt all the working condition in order to achieve a purpose influenced by demand for improvement in the conditions of service or to assuage a problem, which arose in the society. According to Russell (2003) a strike action is the organization of citizens with special interest into group sufficiently powerful to be able to resist the organized forces of government successfully when their causes are ignored such that workers need attention of the public for their just cause.

The implication of the above assertion is that the role of such organization as Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) and other union bodies comes together to make a strong force with one voice, by engaging on strike to protect their various interest and be able to withstand the force of the government. In line with this assertion, Asobie (2006) states that strike action is an instrument for drawing attention of the employers and the public that is immediately concerned to a dispute. It is used where workers want new or better condition of work, that is, more right than they were already given by law. For instance increase in wage and more leave per year.

IVanceVich (2007:18) posit that strike is an effort by employee to withhold work so that the employer will make greater concession at the bargaining table. He argues that it is the major bargaining weapon used by the labour union. It varies from economic strike where the employees stop work until demand for better condition of employment is met, to sit-down strike where they go to work but sit and not do any work.

In the same light, Michael (2013:9) believes that strikes are most times politically charged. Of all the features of industrial relations strike are most often weapons of first rather than last resort. However, labour unions recognize strike as a legitimate last resort when all else fails. Legal dictionary defines strike as work stoppage; the concerted refusal of employees to perform work that their employers have assigned to them in order to force the employers to grant certain demand concession, such as increase wages or improved employment condition. It further posits that “a work stoppage is generally the last step in a labour-management dispute over wages and working conditions”. Because employees are not paid when they go on strike and employers lose production, both sides usually seek to avoid it. However, a strike may be the only bargaining tool left for employees.

According to business dictionary (2015) strike is seen as a collective organized cessation or slowdown of work by employee to force acceptance of their demand by the employers. The legality of the strike action requires approval by the majority of employees by ballot, independent verification to ascertain that the majority support the vote; the notice of the impending strike must be giving to employers in advance; the employer must be provided with the result of the ballot; final notice to embark on the strike must be issued to the employers before the action takes place.This implies that no strike action can occur without the government (employers of labour) knowing or being warned of it. It is therefore the failure of the employer to yield to the demand of the employees that result in industrial dispute.

An international labour organization (2011) maintains that strike is the most visible and controversial form of collective action in the events of a labour dispute and is often seen as the last resort of workers organization in pursuit of their demands. Legal dictionary (2016) went further to say that employees can strike for economic reasons, for improvement of their working conditions or for the mutual aid and protection of employee in another union. In addition, even if they do not have a union, employees can purposely agree to stop working as a group. In that case they are entitled to all the protections that organized strikers are afforded.

No matter its form and nature, it is a disastrous factor in our functional education system; since effective academic activities of the students heavily depend on the proper use of the opportunities and learning experiences in his environment. Hence, the issues of strike action have generated a lot of argument in various parts of our educational sector, this is because as legal dictionary concludes that labour unions do not have the right to use strike to interfere with management prerogatives or with policies that the employers is entitled to make that do not directly concern the employment relationship. A strike must be conducted in an orderly manner and cannot be used as a shield for violence or crime. Intimidation and coercion during the course of a strike are unlawful. 

LABOUR UNION

Labour union or trade unions according to economic times (2015) are organization formed by workers from related fields that work for the common interest of its members. They help workers in issues like fairness of pay, good working environment, hours of work and benefits. They represent a Cluster of workers and provide a link between the management and workers.

For Photius (2005) labour union have been part of Nigerian industry since 1912, when government employees formed a civil service union. In 1944, this organization became the Nigerian union of civil servants after the merger of the protectorates of northern and southern Nigeria. Wikipedia (2015) defined labour or trade union as an organization of workers who have come together to achieve common goals such as protecting the integrity of its members, improving safety standards, achieving higher pay and benefits such as health care and retirement, increasing the number of employees and employer assigned to complete the work and better working conditions. The trade union through its leadership, bargains with the employers on behalf of union members. This is to say that trade, industrial, labour unions are group of workers who organize themselves in one body with a leader in order to strengthen and protect the welfare and interest of one another, hence they stand together as one and speak in unity with one voice.

The purpose of these unions is to look into the grievances of workers and present a collective voice in front of the management. Hence, it acts as the medium of communication between the workers and management. IVanceVich (2007) defined labour union as an organization of employees that uses collective action to advance it members interest in regards to wages and working conditions. They form or join because of the believe that there is strength in unity. Trade union decree of 1973 as cited by shokan (1997) viewed labour union as any combination of temporary and permanent workers or employees, the purpose of which is to regulate the terms and conditions of employment of workers.

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