Employee Relations: An Overview
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Employee Relations Assignment
Employee relations are concerned with gaining people’s commitment to the achievement of the organization’s business goals and objectives in a number of different situations. These include:
- Public, private and not for profit organisations (the so called voluntary sector)
- Unionised and non-unionised organisations
- Primary, manufacturing and service- sector Organisations
- Large organisations (including multinational companies) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
It is all about ensuring that the organizational change is accepted. (Gennard & Hayward 2005)
Employee Relations means the work related relationship between the employee and the employer to be on good terms which will result to contribute in an organizations productivity and the motivation level of the employees. Employee relations aim is to eliminate problems and issues related to work which an employee is unable to get solution to on its own.
Unitarism- A managerialist stance which assumes that everyone in an organization is a member of a team with a common purpose. The unitarist view is implicit in American models of HRM. It embodies a central concern of HRM, that an organization's people, whether managers or lower-level employees, should share the same objectives and work together harmoniously. From this perspective, conflicting objectives are seen as negative and dysfunctional. (Alan Price, 2007)
Unitarism- This means that the managers of a company tries to motivate its employees by making their objectives into the employees and expect them to follow all the orders by them, working together with mutual goals for example providing incentives to them for per piece they produce and recognizing them for the work they are doing for the business.
Plularism- It is the existence of more than one ruling principle. The pluralist approach to industrial relations accepts to conflict as inevitable but containable through various institutional arrangements. Work organisations are microcosms of society. (Singh & Kumar, 2011)
Plularism- This is when the employee’s in an organization elect their group leader and are expected to be left free for their own decision making. The managers and the employee have two different views which results into conflicts in the organization.
Trade Union- Employees generally share many of the same interests, such as improving their pay, having a pleasant environment in which to work, being treated fairly by their employer, being given proper training, working in a safe environment. Forming a trade union is a way of helping employees to achieve improvements in these different aspects of their employment- a trade union is a type of pressure group. (Borrington &Stimpson, 2006)
Trade Unions are group of workers who join together to ensure that their interests of workers are not harmed because of the organization, they help in improving the working environment and conditions of their members.
The different types of trade unions are-
- General Union- This union is for semi-skilled and unskilled workers from various occupations in different industries. For example- Drivers, Cleaners etc
- Industrial Union- This union represents all the different workers from the same industry. Example: The National Union of Miners (N.U.M) representing all the workers at different stages.
- Craft Union- They represent skilled workers from same or different work industries and this union is comparatively small and limited in number.
- White-Collar Unions- They represent professional skilled workers from different industries. Example: Teachers, Scientist, Office Workers
History Of Trade Unions
Compared to the year 1979 the British system has had a vast change by intervening in the legislations formed by the labour market in order to co-operate with the enterpreneurs and maintain a healthy competition. Between 1979 and 1997 these reformation of regulations had taken place which are still in practice by the new Labour Governments 2010.
‘’During the year 1901 a compay called Taff Vale Railway sued the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants for losses during a strike. As a result of the case the union was fined £23,000. Up until this time it was assumed that unions could not be sued for acts carried out by their members. This court ruling exposed trade unions to being sued every time it was involved in an industrial dispute. After the 1906 General Election the Liberal Government passed the 1906 Trades Disputes Act which removed trade union liability for damage by strike action.’’ Simkin, 1973- 2013
Because of this trade dispute act the voluntarist system came into practice which was recognized and approved by the employer and the unions which meant that the government could not intervene directly in handling the conflicts of employee relations due to the trade union immunity legislation.
On the other hand, in order to make the economy situations better the government initiated industrial relations reform from the year 1970’s to reverse the economic decline and most of these reforms were constructed by the Thatcher Government from the year 1979 to 1990, which further resulted the government transition from voluntarist to neo-liberal.
The broad shifts in economic policy-
- During the year 1945 to 1979 there was a concentrated distribution of government income and they generated jobs for all
- During the year 1979 to 1997 the government on controlling inflation and focused on making the labour market more flexible
- During 1997 to the present condition, the government are still continuing to monitor and control on the inflation in their economy and recovering from the global crisis and reducing the deficit.
Broad shifts in government’s public sector policy
Through the election of the Thatcher Government who came into power following the neo-liberal forms there was a minor shift in the public sector policy which had resulted into limiting the public expenditure and its size.
During the year 1979-1997 privitisation had occurred in the public sector which reduced its size from 30% to 22% leading to the britishers nearly employing one quarter of its total population. In 1997-2010 governments brought a few changes to the industrial relation laws earlier introduced between 1979-1997 but did not change it completely, they had declared a minimum wage requirement in 1999.
Britain is known to have the longest history in unionism and the first country to industrialise. It is during the 19th century when skilled craft workers had formed the first union and later all other different classes of labour formed their own unions such as semi-skilled, unskilled and female manual workers. These uses have started taking different forms from the late 19th century.
During World War II the white collar unionsied workers were in public sector, but after 1960 the private sector white collar workers unionised themselves too. The British Union after World War II-
- During the year 1948, the government put up a wage freeze in an attempt to reduce the deficit in the balance of payment and the union congress had agreed to it though they knew that there will be a strong opposition because there was an increase in the community membership of the union due to the war, it was between the year 1948 to 1968 the trade union membership became 10.2 million from 9.3million perhaps due to TUC supporting this wage freeze decision by the government.
- During the late 1960’s the union membership started to increase, the people who were not members of the trade union were impressed by their powers which had improved the working environment and wages of their members which lead to an overall increase of 12.6 million in 1970s.
- With its membership peaking at 12.6 million in the 1970s the membership had reduced by 5 million leading to only 7.6million memebers in 1979, it is because of the rules enacted by the Conservative government which was opposed by the labour unions they created policies and legislation which involved banning the tactics such as secondary picketing which had been used successfully by the miners industry in the year l972 and l974.
‘’The Conservatives eased unions out of many institutions that were based on 'tripartism' (an earlier form of 'social partnership'). The most important were the various Industrial Training Boards, which were generally abolished. The most symbolic move was the downgrading and eventual termination (in 1992) of the National Economic Development Council, where six TUC leaders had met leading employers and government ministers monthly since 1962. The TUC also lost its monopoly on nominating trade unionists to public bodies (such as employment tribunals).’’ (unionhistory.info)
With the falling trade union membership there was also a decline in the strikes from a total of 3906 strikes with loss of 11 million working days it fell to 116 strikes with only 15700 loss of working days.
It was during the year 1997-2010 the government did not change their practice of legislations and continued the trends by encouraging private sector into the involvement of public sector.
In 2008 there were only 193 unions from a total of 1348, due to the recession between 2008-2009 there was a 7% decline in the membership of the Great Britain employees between 2008 and 2011 which is not a high percentage as employees would want to protect their interest in the recession period. In 2011 the total number of employees including male and female who are the members of trade union is about 6,396 and in 2012 its 6,455 which shows us that the trade unions are still at power to an extent to provide security to the welfare of their memebers following all the rules and regulations which are both the government and unions have agreed to.
The three main players in Employee Relations-
- The Government
The governments obligation is to maintain price fluctuations and a surplus on the balance of payment. They monitor the organizational activities, pass laws for them and issue policies to protect the right of workers and consumers in a country, and to maintain an overall balance in the economical activities to create further jobs for the citizens in the country.
They play a significant role in employee relations, they are people who are hired by employers and are paid in the form of wages for the tasks and duties delegated to them, if they feel that their interests are not protected or if their demands are not fulfilled they approach to the trade unions who bring pressure to the employers in an organization. Trade Unions are group of workers who join together to ensure that their interests of workers are not harmed because of the organization, they help in improving the working environment and conditions of their members through collective bargaining and other different methods in order to protect the right of the workers employed in an organization.
An employer is a person who employs workers in an organization and pays them wages or salaries and delegates duties and responsibilities to them. He expects that the workers should follow his orders and makes all the important decisions in an organization. Employers have more power and authority over their workers however if the workers are members of a trade union then there can be certain disputes. An employer’s aim is for the growth and establishment of the organization in a profitable way, this may lead to a conflict if workers demand for high wages regularly. If they feel like they are not fairly treated and they do not feel safe in their jobs, then there can be certain consequences which can damage the interest of the business for example poor production, absenteeism and strikes.
John Gennard and Geoffery Hayward (2005). Employee Relations (CIPD revision guide), London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (ebook)
Available at- http://books.google.ae/books?id=qmbQWLGGVTgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Employee+Relations+(CIPD+revision+guide&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nFn-Uob_CcLS0QXLqoH4Bw&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Employee%20Relations%20(CIPD%20revision%20guide&f=false
Price. A (2007). Human Resource Management 3rd ed. UK: Thomson Learning (ebook)
P.N. Singh & Neeraj Kumar(2011). Employee Relation Management. India: Dorling Kindersley, licences of Pearson Education South Asia (ebook)
Available at- http://books.google.ae/books?id=uP3m2X3OJR8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=employee+relation+management&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VVX-UsKIAoHO0AXohoGQBQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=employee%20relation%20management&f=false
Accessed on 14th Feb 2014
Definition of Trade Union
Karen Borrington and Peter Stimpson (2006). Business Studies 3rd ed. London: Hodder Murray
1906 Trades Disputes Act which removed trade union liability for damage by strike action.’’ Simkin, 2013
©JohnSimkin, September 1997 - June 2013
Accesssed on Feb 16th
Dave Lyddon, Centre for Industrial Relations
© London Metropolitan University
Accesed on feb 17th
© Crown copyright 2013
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