Port Harcourt - A labour stakeholder, Chika Onuegbu, has cautioned against incessant strikes to prevent the instrument from losing its potency and public sympathy for unions.
Onuegbu, the Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Rivers, said this in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
He said that strikes should only be employed as a last resort.
"However, I must caution that strikes should only be employed as a last resort; otherwise it will lose its potency and the sympathy of the ordinary people, Onuegbu, a former Industrial Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, said.
Onuegbu noted that strikes had yielded positive results in the country, citing the current democracy as one of the dividends of strikes.
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"We are proud to say that without exemplary leadership, courage and unparalleled tenacity of purpose in the face of intimidating, unrestrained terror during the military dictatorship, the present democracy may have eluded us.’’
He said that strikes had both economic and social costs, and urged the three tiers of government to pay attention to social dialogue and industrial relations.
According to him, mutual trust and mutual respect is key to social dialogue.
The chairman said that unions were not using dialogue because mediation, arbitration and litigation were very tortuous and long and often denied rather than resolve the issues.
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Onuegbu said that industrial disputes could not be effectively resolved through legal process because it denied workers the right to express themselves through strikes which is a universal right.
He observed that dialogue, when exercised honestly, serves as a veritable means of resolving all grievances and conflicts, adding that the International Labour Organisation placed premium on it.
The TUC chairman admitted that the first alternative to strike was social dialogue, noting, however, that the Trade Dispute Act, acknowledged that disputes were inevitable in industrial organisations.
According to him, the Act stipulates that workers and the management should enter into collective bargaining toward resolving any crisis internally, through the means of dialogue.
Onuegbu said that essentially, parties might utilise mediation, arbitration and litigation when social dialogue failed.