The relationship of Employers and Trade Unions


The relationship between Employer and employee or trade unions is called Industrial Relation. Harmonious relationship is necessary for both employers and employees to safeguard the interests of the both the parties of the production. In order to maintain good relationship with the employees, the main functions of every organization should avoid any dispute with them or settle it as early as possible so as to ensure industrial peace and higher productivity. Personnel management is mainly concerned with the human relation in industry because the main theme of personnel management is to get the work done by the human power and it fails in its objectives if good industrial relation is maintained. In other words good Industrial Relation means industrial peace which is necessary for better and higher productions


i. Industrial Relation is that part of management which is concerned with the manpower of the enterprise - whether machine operator, skilled worker or manager. BETHEL, SMITH & GROUP

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ii. Industrial Relation is a relation between employer and employees, employees and employees and employees and trade unions. - Industrial dispute Act 1947

iii. While moving from jungle of the definitions, here, Industrial Relation is viewed as the "process by which people and their organizations interact at the place of work to establish the terms and conditions of employment."

The Industrial Relation relations also called as labor - management, employee-employer relations.

A few notable features pertaining to Industrial Relations are as under:

1. Industrial Relation do not emerge in vacuum they are born of employment relationship in an industrial setting. Without the existence of the two parties, i.e. labor and management, this relationship cannot exist. It is the industry, which provides the environment for industrial relations.

2. Industrial Relation are characterized by both conflict and co-operations. This is the basis of adverse relationship. So the focus of Industrial Relations in on the study of the attitudes, relationships, practices and procedure developed by the contending parties to resolve or at least minimize conflicts.

3. As the labor and management do not operate in isolations but are parts of large system, so the study of Industrial Relation also includes vital environment issues like technology of the workplace, country's socio-economic and political environment, nation's labor policy, attitude of trade unions workers and employers.

4. Industrial Relation also involve the study of conditions conductive to the labor, managements co-operations as well as the practices and procedures required to elicit the desired co-operation from both the parties.

5. Industrial Relations also study the laws, rules regulations agreements, awards of courts, customs and traditions, as well as policy framework laid down by the governments for eliciting co-operations between labor and management. Besides this, it makes an in-depth analysis of the interference patterns of the executive and judiciary in the regulations of labor-managements relations.

In fact the concepts of Industrial Relations are very broad-based, drawing heavily from a variety of discipline like social sciences, humanities, behavioral sciences, laws etc.


Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest fast moving consumer goods company, with leadership in Home & Personal Care Products and Foods & Beverages. HUL's brands, spread across 20 distinct consumer categories, touch the lives of two out of three Indians. They endow the company with a scale of combined volumes of about 4 million tonnes and sales of Rs.10,000 crores. The mission that inspires HUL's 36,000 employees, including about 1,350 managers, is to "add vitality to life". With 35 Power Brands, HUL meets everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene, and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. It is a mission HUL shares with its parent company, Unilever, which holds 51.55% of the equity. A Fortune 500 transnational, Unilever sells Foods and Home and Personal Care brands in about 100 countries worldwide.

Hindustan Unilever Limited considers quality as one of the principal strategic objectives to guarantee its growth and leadership in the markets in which it operates. The company is committed to respond creatively and competitively to the changing needs and aspirations of our consumers through relentless pursuit of technological excellence, innovation and quality management across our businesses, and offer superior quality products and services that are appropriate to the various price points in the market as well as to our commitment to building shareholder value. The company recognises that its employees are the primary source of success in its operations and is committed to training and providing them the necessary tools and techniques as well as empowering them to ensure broad base compliance of this policy in the organisation at all levels. The company is committed to fulfill its legal and statutory obligations and international standards of product safety and hygiene and will not knowingly sell product that is harmful to consumers or their belongings. It will institute systems and measures to monitor compliance in order to meet its responsibilities to consumers. The company will maintain an open communication channel with its consumers and customers and will carefully monitor the feedback to continuously improve its products and services and set quality standards to fulfill them. The company is committed to extend its quality standards to its contract manufacturers, key suppliers and service providers and by entering into alliances with them, to jointly improve the quality of its products and services. This policy is applicable to production from its own facilities as well as to production that is outsourced. The company will periodically review this quality policy for its effectiveness and consistency with business objectives. The company delegates authority and responsibility for dissemination and implementation of this policy to each Business and Unit Head.

Objectives of Industrial Relations department at HUL

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A. To safeguard the interest of labor and management by securing the highest level of mutual understanding and good-will among all those sections in the company which participate in the process of production.

B. To avoid industrial conflict or strife and develop harmonious relations, which are an essential factor in the productivity of workers and the thriving progress of HUL.

C. To raise productivity to a higher level in an era of full employment by lessening the tendency to high turnover and frequency absenteeism.

D. To establish and nurse the growth of an Industrial Democracy based on labor partnership in the sharing of profits and of managerial decisions, so that ban individuals personality may grow its full stature for the benefit of the industry and of the country as well.

E. To eliminate, as far as is possible and practicable, strikes, lockouts and gheraos by providing reasonable wages, improved living and working conditions, said fringe benefits.

F. To establish direct control of such plants and units as are running at a loss or in which productions has to be regulated in the public and company's interest.

G. Improvements in the economic conditions of workers in the existing state of business unit.

H. Control exercised by the state over industrial undertaking with a view to regulating production and promoting harmonious industrial relations.

I. Socializations or rationalization of industries by making HUL itself as a major employer

J. Vesting of a proprietary interest of the workers in the department in which they are employed.

Health and safety policies of HUL

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) supplies high quality goods and services to meet the daily needs of consumers and customers. In doing so, the Company is committed to exhibit the highest standards of corporate behavior towards its consumers, employees, the societies and the environment in which we operate.

Towards this, the Company recognises its responsibility to ensure safety and protection of health of its employees, contractors and visitors in all its operating sites, which include manufacturing, sales and distribution, research laboratories and offices during work and work related travel.

This Policy document defines the vision, principles, aim, required actions and scope of the policy application as well as the responsibility for execution.

Vision- Our vision is to be an injury free organisation.

Mission-Our Mission-We will bring safety on top of mind for all employees and will integrate it with all business processes. We will realise our Vision through an Integrated Safety Management approach, which focuses on People, Processes, Systems, Technology and Facilities, supported by demonstrated leadership and employee commitment at all levels as the prime drivers for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment.

Safety Principles : HUL's Occupational Safety and Health Policy is based on and supported by the following eight Principles.

These Principles have the same status as the Company's Code of Business Principles:

· All injuries and occupational illnesses are preventable

· All operational exposures can be safeguarded

· Safety evaluation of all business processes is vital

· Working safely is a condition of employment

· Training all employees to work safely is essential

· Management audits are a must

· Employee involvement is essential

·All deficiencies must be reported and corrected promptly

In order to facilitate operationalisation of the Safety Principles, a separate document has been prepared, which covers: a)Safety Principles b)Success Criteriac)Illustrative KPI.

This document will form the basis for the concerned Line / Organisations in developing KPI's for their respective functions / sites.

Where does this policy apply?

· All own/leased sites - Manufacturing, Research/Innovation, Offices, Depots, Warehouses

· In-house purchased services i.e. canteen, travel desk, IT implementation etc.

·Sites of associates with HUL holding > 24% while carrying out operations of making, handling, using, transporting, selling or disposing off of our products

This policy apply to:

· All employees at business anywhere

· Contractors and visitors while at our own sites


The IR department of HUL is headed by industrial relations director. He is not only responsible as personalizing management, or that of a social worker in a factory, or a union buster, he looks upon his department as an adjunct to management supervision at all levels; he keeps other executives informed about new discoveries, programme trends and needs. At the same time, he provides efficient service in the operation of several centralized services.

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At HUL a successful industrial relations programme reflects the personnel viewpoint, which is influenced by three main considerations:

a) Individual thinking

b) Policy awareness and

c) Expected group reaction

Individualized thinking makes if imperative for the administrator to consider the entire situation in which the affected individual is placed. Policy awareness underscores the idea of the consistency of treatment and the precedent value of any decision which a management takes; while expected group reaction balances what we know of human nature in groups against an individual's situation in the light of the policy that has been formulated and implemented. In all these different circumstances, reality demands that all the three aspects of the personnel viewpoint should be considered at once in terms of the past, the present and the future. This viewpoint is held at all the levels of management from the top to the bottom, from the top executives and staff to the line and supervisory personnel.


The staff employed in the industrial relations department know the limitations within which it has to function. The industrial relations director generally has several assistants who help him to perform his functions effectively, and he usually reports directly to the president or chairman of the board of directors.

The functions of the industrial relations staff at HUL are -

1. Administration, including overall organization, supervision and co-ordination of industrial relations policies and programmes.

2. Liaison with outside groups and personnel departments as well as with various cadres of the management staff.

3. The drafting of regulations, rules, laws or orders and their construction and interpretation.

4. Position classification, including overall direction of job analysis, salary and wage administration, wage survey and pay schedules.

5. Recruitment and employment of workers and other staff.

6. Employment testing, including intelligence tests, mechanical aptitude tests and achievement tests.

7. Placement, including induction and assignment.

8. Training of apprentices, production workers, foremen and executives.

9. Employee counseling on all types of personnel problems-educational, vocational, health or behavior problems.

10. Medical and health services.

11. Safety services, including first aid training.

12. Group activities, including group health insurance, housing, cafeterial programmes and social clubs.

13. Suggestion plans and their uses in labor, management and production committees.

14. Employee relations, specially collective bargaining with representatives and settling grievances.

15. Public relations.

16. Research in occupational trends and employee attitudes, and analysis of labor turnover.

17. Employee records for all purposes.

18. Control of operation surveys, fiscal research and analysis.

19. Benefit, retirement and pension programmes.

HUL's successful IR programme is based on :-

a) Top Management Support: - Since industrial relations is a functional staff service, it must necessarily derive its authority from the line organization. This is ensured by providing that the industrial relations director should report to a top line authority to the president, chairman or vice president of each department.

b) Sound Personnel Policies: - These constitute the business philosophy of HUL and guide it in arriving at its human relations decisions. The purpose of such policies is to decide, before any emergency arises, what shall be done about the large number of problems which crop up every day during the working of an organization. Policies can be successful only when they are followed at all the level of an enterprise, from top to bottom.

c) Adequate Practices are developed by professionals: - In the field to assist in the implementation of the policies of HUL. A system of procedures is folowed. The procedures and practices of the industrial relations department are the "tool of management" which enables a supervisor to keep ahead of his job that of the time-keeper, rate adjuster, grievance reporter and merit rater.

d) Detailed Supervisory Training :- To ensure the organizational policies and practices are properly implemented and carried into effect by the industrial relations staff, job supervisors are trained thoroughly, so that they may convey to the employees the significance of those policies and practices. They are, moreover, trained in leadership and in communications.

e) Follow-up of Results: - HUL understands that constant review of an industrial relations programme is essential, so that existing practices may be properly evaluated and a check may be exercised on certain undesirable tendencies. A follow up of turnover, absenteeism, departmental morale, employee grievances and suggestion; wage administration, etc. is supplemented by continuous research to ensure that the policies that have been pursued are best fitted to company needs and employee satisfaction.

Suggestions to Improve Industrial Relation :-

a. Both management and unions should develop constructive attitudes towards each other

b. All basic policies and procedures relating to Industrial Relation should be clear to everybody in the organization and to the union leader. The personnel manager must make certain that line people will understand and agree with these policies.

c. The personnel manager should remove any distrust by convincing the union of the company's integrity and his own sincerity and honesty. Suspicious, rumors and doubts should all be put to rest.

d. The personnel manager should not vie with the union to gain workers'loyal to both the organization. Several research studies also confirm the idea of dual allegiance. There is strong evidence to discard the belief that one can owe allegiance to one group only.

e. Management should encourage right kind of union leadership. While it is not for the management to interfere with union activities, or choose the union leadership, its action and attitude will go a long way towards developing the right kind of union leadership. "Management gets the union it deserves" is not just an empty phrase.