Organisational Democracy, Reforms And Human Side Of Organisations
As Nigeria marks May 29 Democracy Day, it has become important to uphold democratic values, even in organisational politics. This is because as Aristotle once said, every human being is a political animal. Thus, every organisation as a social or socio-technical systems, is involved in internal politicking in the quest for power and the conflict arising from the overt and covert struggle to realise personal and clique interests versus those of the organisation. Given this politicking, organisations and its workforce, all have need for their distinct motives and needs to be achieved harmoniously. In doing so there is usually need for internal democracy to reign supreme, so as to encourage organusation-wide democratic participatory culture; provide a free communication climate; maintain rule of law and the fundamental human rights of workers and those of the organisation, without which chaos will ensue.
Against these lines of thought, human relations and behavioural management scientists, have a long time ago recognised respect for human dignity and satisfaction of workforce, as the key to getting the best input from workers, and enhancing productivity in organisations for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Thus, the cultures, structures, policies and programmes of organisations, are ideally expected to be tailored to realise the formal and informal needs of both the institutions and the people that work in them. This approach, is a paradigm shift from the classical approach to managing personnel with brute force as if they are machine. However, for better results, applications of the classical scientific, bureaucratic and administrative methods are fused with the modern approaches to managing organisations. But the human relations and behavioural approaches have been described as the human side of organisations, meaning, emphasis should be placed on the utmost value of the workforce as Godly creatures who have feelings, and who are central to organisational success.
Whereas some organisations, profit and nonprofit alike, are aware of the human relations and behavioural principles, and may have been applying same, the economic meltdown in Nigeria, has brought about organisation- wide and labour-specific actions to cushion impact of the economic recession on institutions.
Such actions, which are usually garnished with disguised terms such as rationalisation, right-sizing, stood-off and so on are of course expected, because organisations must survive.
What however disturbs people is a situation where organisations are overhauled or changes are introduced in a recessionary period without bottom-top and organisation-wide decision making and implementation of the change- programmes.
Consequently, change-programmes that have some good intentions, have been perceived as de-emphasing the human side of organisations, thus affecting productivity since workforce is not motivated by such actions, amidst the economic hardships.
Already, workers in many organisations, apart from poor salary welfare, are also demotivated by the now-popular practice of being made to spend their personal resources to facilitate official assignments, given the lack of or irregular provision of overheads, imprests, out-of-pockect expenses, social amenities and tools for work.
At best, what the so-called organisational restructurings may have achieved are realisation of the profit motives of private companies and the public policies of governments, while salaries and fringe benefits as well as dismissals scare workers to mental depression and even sentence some to their early graves. The harrowing effects of the labour policies across Nigeria, have not only affected the welfare and future of affected workers alone, but their dependants and the economy as well.
Despite, the good motives of labour reforms, already bringing about positive outcomes for some organisations, the clamour for pouring milk of human kindness into the jug of the reform tea party, has continued to buzz like the horn of a moving train, in the country.
The case of Nigeria's labour groups' hues and cries on behalf of its members, concerning reforms slanted to workforce alone, despite the excruciating economic meltdown in which wages is not matched with economic inflation and democratic principles, is most heart-rendering.
Labour movements, say they want organisational reforms in the private and public sectors of Nigeria's economy, to be given human face. They want the democratic rights to equitable remuneration and participation in governance. Above all, they want motivation of the workforce and productivity in organisations to be factored into the reforms, instead of continuing with biased and counter-productive measures adopted by governments and private companies who at best merely enforce work attendance.
The labour in Nigeria has cried out that in this recessionary period in Nigeria's economy, some private companies chose to push the impact to workers, by embarking on salary cuts and mass layoffs, and have thus worsened the impact of the meltdown on workers, instead of alleviating their sufferings.
There is little wonder why at this year's Labour Day in Abuja, the one-sided reforms, stagnant minimum wage, poor welfare, deprivation of workers' rights, lack of working tools, were the refrains in all speeches read.
Most incisive was that of the President of the. Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Waba, who like the president of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Boboye Kaigama, also accused the public sector for equally implementing reforms in the harrowing times, stopped, delayed or slashed salaries as well as put many civil servants' careers on the line, without considering the huge negative effects.
Labour is worried that government and private employers, are implementing reforms mostly in the aspect of personnel, but without commensurate attention to the provision of adequate resources, conducive working environment as well as improved remuneration, to motivate workers and enhance productivity, let alone total political and economic restructuring that is widely clamoured.
The trend has made Comrade Waba to urge employers to match organisational and workforce reforms with adequate motivation, and an overall sincere intent to improve productivity, instead of putting workers in distress.
For Waba, and as corroborated by the TUC President, the fact that up till now, some states were still owing workers and pensioners, arrears of salaries and allowances running into many months, and are uncommitted to paying up, despite the Federal Government's bail out funds and the Paris Club refunds to such states, is most despicable. Although the NLC president, Comrade Waba, gave instance of Benue State, there are more states and private companies that seem culpable of the bashings.
Really, despite reforms done by governments under the guise of cutting down cost of governance, the aspects of security votes and political appointments, which gulp huge sums of money, are not considered in the reforms, to reduce spendings.
Wondering whether the economic recession was caused by labour, to warrant being deprived of their democratic and statutory rights in a Democratic system, Comrade Waba insinuated that construction projects were also used as excuse for not channelling the bailout and Paris Club refund funds to salaries and arrears.
Waba was not far from the truth when he lashed out that, the projects used as guise for failing to pay workers, are afterall, usually not complemented for the public to use, but instead are abandoned during and after tenures. This might not be know to him alone. Of course some of such over-glorified project are some times conduit pipes, and end up as white elephant projects.
Indeed, many persons would take sides with Comrade Waba's blunt description of the cutting of salaries; nonpayment of pending arrears and the outright sacking of some workers, even genuine ones, without due process, as unlawful, inhuman and undemocratic in a democratic dispensation. The case of El Rufai's Kaduna and sacked teachers is most instructive here.
As Waba put it, the trend of ill treatments to labour which had contributed to economic and political development of the country, have made workers whose with welfare are already ridiculous, to be apprehensive of how their careers would end them in penury on being sacked or lawfully retired.
Given the painful economic recession, there is urgent need to heed the call for raising the minimum wages. The need to cushion the hardship, no doubt, justifies, Waba's and Comrade Kaigama's respective calls for speedy completion of the new minimum wage process, and to be backed up by a law to stipulate upward review after every five years; and be enforcement on states and private employers, besides industrialization to create employment opportunities for unemployed Nigerians.
Considering the sympathetic plight, labour should not rest and listen to political gimmicks likely being made ahead of 2019 elections, until the new minimum salary is achieved. It should also hold on to its plan voiced through Comrade Waba, to deal with employers who will shun paying the expected new minimum wage proposed as N66,500.
In this regard, the Federal Government should also make good, the assurances passed on through Vice President Yome Osinbjo, in response to Comrades Waba and Kaigama's demands, the new salary should really be approved, and also be backed by a federal law, to compel all stipulated employers to implement.
Before then, employers still owing salaries, allowances and pensions, should be made to clear them, to ease commencement of the new wages that Vice President Osinbajo assured will begin last quarter of 2018.
This is because, aside cushioning recessionary effects, labour as the TUC president, Kaigama put it, has truely served as the bulwark of national development through policy advice and implementation of programmes as well as joining other civil activists to enthrone democracy in the country, hence workers' welfare should be enhanced.
Against the practice of not adequately funding work, and as suggested by the NLC chairman, Abuja Chapter, Comrade Amachi Lawrence Uchechukwu, employers, not only the Federal Capital administration, but other governments and private organisations, should provide vital welfare programmes, concerning health, housing, education, water, electricity, roads, overheads, impress, overtime allowances, working facilities and transport schemes, to improve the life of workers and their dependants, so as to abate pen-robbery as well improve productivity and general development. Indeed, these are some of the aspects of welfare that organisations have overlooked.
Comrade Uchechukwu's call on the Federal Government to use the proceeds of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and monies it claimed have been recovered from alleged looters, to power the economy and reduce the hardship facing citizens, generally, also needs to be headed. This has been clamoured for by Nigerians up till this moment, but to no meaningful results.
As usual, it is baffling that since after the Labour Day, nothing motivating has really happened as fall outs of the celebrations and the sweet promises made.
Public and provide organisations cannot progress without a respected and satisfied workforce, neither can they earn good image and reputation without first of all being nice to their staff internally, to influence positive words of mouth public relations to the external stakeholders. Therefore, the quest to reposition organisations, should be organisation and workers-driven, to provide harmonious working systems and better productivity.