Management Of Industrial Relations

Management Of Industrial Relations Essay Sample

This essay shall discuss the changes taking place in the labor market and employment relations in almost every country due to on-going globalization, technological revolution, management change and government reform policies. The issues covered in this essay are broken into three parts; the first part will touch on the trends in new employment and management practices and the benefits to the employers and employees. The second part will highlight the changes in employment relations and trade union movement due to management practices. Finally, the third part will talk on the reasons for which industrial disputes occur such as strikes and finally the conclusion of the essay summing up the body.

The various emerging issues and trends in the South Pacific labor markets and employment relations are based on cases reported in published reports, the news media and online publications. They reveal that the new employment practice of an organization by the employers is adopting good management practices. The good management practices on managing the organization is by maintaining highly skilled people in full time employment and employing part-time / casual labors. The employers’ initiatives for the raise in part-time / casual employment are basically to:

* Reduce operation costs of labor such as wage costs by eliminating the over time rates.

* High productivity in operation.

* Higher profitability of the firm.

* Efficient workforce.

* Reduce working hours to coincide with peak times.

* Fewer disputes in the industry.

* High retention of experienced and skilled worker.

* No costs associated in training and development of part-timers / casuals.

* Part-timers / casuals are non union members.

These initiatives of the employer have lead to an increase in creation of the part-time / casual employment over the past decade to reduce its costs and earning a higher return as profits.

The reasons for part-time employment from the employees’ perspective are as follows:

* Women are the majority part-time job holders, particularly mothers preferring part-time work to balance the work with the domestic duties of motherhood and a house wife basically saying work life balance.

* Part-time workers can hold more than one job for the sake of high total income.

* Part-time job holders have flexible working days and hours.

* The part-time jobs also accounts for the low skilled opportunities.

* Part-timers such as mother also get to maintain their skills while on maternity leave.

* There are students who also take up part-time jobs to support their tertiary studies or probably upgrading their skills.

These perspectives of the employees shows the reasons why part – time jobs has increased over the past decade and they basically hold positions which requires low skill such as drivers, tellers, painter and etc.

The use of management practices now days by the employers shows that the employees and employers are working together to achieve a common purpose with respect to resolving conflict, improving management-employee cooperation, increasing productivity and organizational performance.

Recent times have shown that generally, employers’ attitude(s) towards the trade unions has ranged from good to mixed. Some sectors of society now see trade unions as part of the social fabric, champions of social justice by protecting the rights of their members-the workers. This view is a far cry from early days where a more unitarist approach was taken, and trade unions given the cold shoulder.

The collective bargaining is an institutional process for solving problems arising directly out of employer-employee relationship. Through collective bargaining the two parties, become responsive to each other. The employees, by way of their representatives-the workers union, ventilate their problems relating to wages, employee benefits, the working environment, management style and so forth. While the management put forward its demands regarding employee co-operation, performance, reducing costs and unnecessary wastage so as to maximize its profits. Therefore, the two parties discuss the problems, make the necessary concessions and come up with possible solutions to resolve the conflict. The scope of collective bargaining is wider as the solutions for common problems can be found directly through negotiations between both the parties. And joint councils relates to the sharing of information & suggestion with regard to the issues of common interest including health, safety, welfare and productive efficiency. However, the collective bargaining process has been a channel through which the voices of workers are heard and their demands are given a chance of being met, this is said since individually concessions from management would be hard to come by-‘United we stand, divided we fall’.

The status of the trade union movement now days, generally does not seem all too positive, as trade union membership is declining. The trade unions mostly attract and fill its membership ranks with people who are low skilled and labourers who work full time. The trade union movement has not done itself much justice at all with its lackluster attempts in increasing union membership. Instead they have resorted to poaching members from a rival union this has resulted in unions spending more time fighting amongst each other rather than fighting for their members.

Other reasons for the decline in trade unions, has been their inability to adapt to changing times. Increasingly there has been an upward surge in the number of female workers entering the labour market. With trade unions being seen as a male dominated club with all the senior ranks held by male members, potential female members may be driven away from joining unions as they feel that they will be marginalized, and their issues ignored.

Another reason for the decline in trade union membership is due to management decisions to; negotiate with employees individually, hire more casual or part time staff, or outsource organizational functions and operations to other companies or countries (in particular countries with poor labour laws).

In addition to these government policies that protect the interest of the laborer such as the setting of the minimum wage rates (wage floor) have reduced the need for workers to join unions.

The wage floor prevents the pay of workers from falling below the level set by the state and ensures that employers pay their employees that determined minimum amount and nothing less. Working condition policies such as OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) regulation in Fiji is another example of a state policy that diminishes the need for workers to join trade unions.

The OHS regulation among other things contains provisions such as measures against victimization at work, which defines victimization as “recurrent reprehensible or distinctly negative actions which are directed against individual employees in an offensive manner and can result in those employees being placed outside the workplace community.”

The act places the onus on employers to plan and organize work so as to prevent victimization and to make it clear to employees that victimization is not acceptable. The employer is also responsible for the early detection of signs of victimization, prompt counter measures to deal with victimization and making support available to employees who have been targeted. So for employees who are non-union members lose their bargaining power at the workplace. The power of trade unionism in the protection of the right of workers and in meeting their demands in now well established. The employers also have formed associations to protect their rights and interests.

Industrial disputes are the disputes which arise due to any disagreement in an industrial relation. The term ‘industrial relation’ involves various aspects of interactions between the employer and the employees; among the employees as well as between the employers. In such relations whenever there is a clash of interest, it may result in dissatisfaction for either of the parties involved and hence lead to industrial disputes or conflicts. These disputes may take various forms such as protests, strikes, demonstrations, lock-outs, retrenchment, dismissal of workers, etc.

Some of the important causes of an industrial dispute are:

* Demand for higher wages and allowances.

* Dissatisfaction with company policy

* Retrenchment of workmen and closure of establishment

* Dispute connected with minimum wages

* Leaves with wages and Holidays

* Mode of payments

* Discharge or dismissal of workmen wrongfully

* Increment not up to the mark

* Demand for payment of bonus and determination of its rate, profit sharing, provident fund and gratuity.

* Demand for higher social security benefits.

* Demand for good and safer working conditions, including length of a working day, the interval and frequency of leisure and physical work environment.

* Demand for improved labor welfare and other benefits. For example, adequate canteen, rest, recreation and accommodation facility, arrangements for travel to and from distant places, etc.

* Workmen shall be entitled to wages for the period of strike, if it is found that the strike is neither illegal nor unjustified. A strike is valid if it does not violate any provision of the law.

To conclude globalization has changed not just the way one looks at the workplace but how one also looks at society as a whole, not too long ago when one completed his or her studies that qualification would have allowed the worker employment only within their native country. Now with the coming of globalization ones’ skills are internationally marketable allowing for a labour force that shifts from country to country resulting in a change in the composition of trade unions and a decline in its ranks. Added with the technological revolution, changes in management policies to the workplace, government reforms, increased female workforce, one can be certain that the evolution of employment relations will continue to change.


* Mark Bray, Peter Waring, Rae Cooper (2009), Employment Relations: Theory and Practice, McGraw-Hill Australia.

* Bray M, Deery G, Walsh J and Waring P. [2007] Industrial Relations: a Contemporary Approach, NSW: McGraw Hill Book Company.

* Prasad, S. and Hince, K. 2000. Industrial Relations in the South Pacific, Suva: USP.