Information Seeking Behaviour of Trade Unionists: A Review of Associated Challenges in Digital Era

Information Seeking Behaviour of Trade Unionists: A Review of Associated Challenges in Digital Era

Joel O. Afolayan (Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0296-8.ch010


Trade Unionism is mostly like a reactive movement rather than proactive. Its activities and programmes have witnessed setbacks overtime, notwithstanding the originality of intent and positivity of disposition to democratic process. Trade union is a major component of the system of modern industrial relations in any nation. Constitutionally, it has own set of objectives or goals to achieve. Change in the political, social and educational environment gives it an interface of a forum that protects and advances workers' interests, improves the quality of life and condition of workforce, enlarges their traditional capacity of establishing terms and conditions of employment. This chapter entrenches trade unionists' information needs in terms of capacity building towards organizational productivity as well as the seeking behavior using digital sources. The challenges of meeting up with the needs and management of information by Information Resource Centre of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies' (MINILS) in the era of digital divide is review with recommendations.
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The increasing pressure to explore relevant information resources to better the lot of Trade Union has been the subject of a number of studies (Imbun and Ngangan, 2001). It is obvious that knowledge-based resources determine the rating of the growth and development of an organization in the contemporary society. The scope of the factors of production- Land, Labour, Capital and Entrepreneur has been logically expanded to accommodate ‘knowledge’. Knowledge, as it were, is considered worth added to existing four factors of production (Azubuike, 2012). Trade unions are a major component of the system of modern industrial relations in any nation, each having their own set of objectives or goals to achieve according to their constitution. It also has its own master plan toward achieving those goals. This is in line with the International Labour Convention of International Labour Organization, ratified by Nigeria thus: ‘Workers and employers without distinction whatsoever shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned to join organization of their choosing without previous authorization; they must have the right to draw up their constitution and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organize their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes and public authority must refrain from interference which would restrict these rights or impede their lawful exercise, their organization must not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority and their organizations must have the right to establish and join federations and confederations and to affiliate with international organizations of employees and employers (Abiala, 2011)

A trade union is an organization formed by workers to protect their interests and improve their working conditions, among other goals. It is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining and improving working conditions. In the developing countries, the exclusive right to form a union and bargain collectively protects workers from exploitative tendencies of employer(s) at work and mounts pressure on employers to share productivity gains with their employees. This therefore necessitates unionization, in the developing countries and even beyond, so that the working population can reap the benefits of economic growth stemming from wealth created by the work force. It will surely cost the trade union greatly if little or no attention is paid to Information. Information as the physical surrogate of knowledge (Aina, 2004) is therefore indispensable. It is though viewed as been ambiguous yet described as a ‘process’; as a ‘knowledge’; and as a ‘thing’ by Buckland (1991). Information is a process when it is performing the function of informing, which involves transmitting idea from the source to a recipient. It is knowledge when it is performing the role of imparting knowledge to an individual, where it reduces uncertainty. Information is a thing when it is packaged, thereby making it tangible as record or document. The information need and seeking behavior of Trade Unionists shall be assessed with the view to identify relational challenges in the digital era for possible improvement to exact the indispensability of effective and proportionate information resources so as to strategically position trade unionists for the challenges of globalization. Looking at the development of ICT from general perspectives therefore, the impact felt is varied in certain field of human endeavor from others. However, it is evidence that is a vast and increasing gap.

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