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Title: New Frontiers on Legal Enforceability of Collective Agreements in Nigeria
Authors: Zechariah, Matthias
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Current Jos Law Journal
Series/Report no.: Vol. 6;No.1; Pp 293-318
Abstract: The objectives of this research paper are: to examine the status of collective agreements under the common law; highlight impacts of statutory intervention on common law perception of collective agreements, and discuss how the National industrial Court (NIC) and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered) have broadened the horizon of enforceability of collective agreements in Nigeria. Reliance is placed principally on statutes, judicial decisions, textbooks written by learned authors as well as international best standard and practices championed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and practices in some foreign jurisdictions. The findings of the research were that under the common law, collective agreements are ordinarily not binding, they are considered as a ‘gentleman's agreement‘, a product of a trade unionist's pressure, binding only in honour or on the goodwill of the parties thereto, unless and until it is incorporated expressly or impliedly into the contract of employment. However, statutory intervention has slightly altered the common law notion of collective agreements, e.g. where the Minister of Labour and Productivity is empowered to declare, by order, that part or the whole of an agreement deposited in his office is binding on the parties. Furthermore, with the enactment of the NIC Act and the listing of the NIC in the 1999 Constitution as a superior court of record (following the alteration of the Constitution, necessitated by the N.U.E.E. V BPE case), the Court now has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate on a wide range of labour matters, industrial relations and application of international best practices such as the standard and principles of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and practices in foreign jurisdictions. It has been argued that the enforceability of collective agreements is in tandem with international best practices, which the NIC can readily give effect to, if it is pleaded and established/ proved as a fact. This has invariability expanded the frontiers of enforceability of such agreements. Therefore, the common law position on the status of collective agreements has been rendered otiose and obsolete, giving way to the sparkling provisions of enforceability guaranteed by the NIC Act and the Constitution respectively. Notwithstanding, it is highly recommended that parties to a collective agreement should expressly state their intention whether or not to be bound; the duration of the agreement should be stated and whether, and when, it should, be reviewed; experts and other stakeholders should be properly consulted before an agreement is entered into; an arbitration clause may be included in case a party breaches its own part of the agreement. Industrial democracy ought to be promoted in all sectors. Strikes and lock outs should be used only as a last resort for enforcing compliance with a collective agreement, because these industrial actions cause devastating effects on the economy and on the lives of the citizenry generally.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/1748
Appears in Collections:Commercial Law

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