For the employment relations, there is complicate and compelling area of study which involves relationships with employees, employers, trade unions and government on a regular basis. At the same time, there are three perspectives which are unitarism, pluralist and radical, each offers a special perception of workplace relations and explain the actions, statements and employers behaviours and trade unionists, such as workplace conflict, role of unions and job regulation vary differently. Based on the UK employment relations structure, the essay will analysis which perspectives appropriate for employee relations in the UK.
The unitaty perspective is based upon the assumption that the organisation is, at the same time, the unitary perspective organisation can be as an integrated and harmonious whole with the ideal of “one happy family”, where management and other members of the staff are all share a common purpose, emphasizing mutual cooperation(Naukrihub, 2007) and they have a set of common values, interests and objectives. Furthermore, unitarism has a paternalistic approach where it demands on all employees loyalty, being predominantly managerial in its emphasis and application.
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For unitary perspective, there are two important implications stemming from this. The first one is that conflict as the expression of employee dissatisfaction and differences with management is perceived as an irrational activity. Here, the conflict is regard as ‘ bad’ for the organisation and should be suppressed through coercive means( Rose, 2004). The second is that trade unions are regarded as unnecessary since the loyalty between employees and organizations are considered mutually exclusive, where there can’t be two sides of industry. Conflict is perceived as disruptive and the pathological result of agitators, interpersonal friction and communication breakdown. Therefore, trade unions should be denied a presence within the organisation. In some cases, however, trade union may ‘force’ managements accept presence for the purpose of pay determination and employment conditions. Under no situation and according to this perspective, union should have a part to play in the authority exercise and decision-making within the organisation, as this would represent a violation of managerial prerogative( Rose, 2004).
As a simple theoretical device, the unitary perspective can be used to identify the industrial relations climate within specific types of organisation, both historically and currently. In the 2000s there are mant examples of organisations whose management adopt a modified unitary view. For example, Marks& Spencer treat their employees well, and it is firms within this category they are often described as neo-paternalist. In the organisational contexts, the unitary perspective remains an important theoretical device for examing managers’ attitudes and perceptions.
The Pluralist perspective
In pluralism the organization is perceived as being made up of powerful and divergent sub-groups, each with its own legitimate loyalties and with their own set of objectives and leaders. In particular, the two predominant sub-groups in the pluralistic perspective are the management and trade unions¼ˆNaukrihub, 2007). The pluralist perspective during the twentieth century include a widespread distribution of authority and power in society, ownership separation from management, political separation and industrial conflict and an acceptance and institutionalisation of conflict in both spheres.
The priciple assumption of pluralist perspective is that the individuals organisation comprises groups which have their own aims, interests and leadership. These aims and interests often conflict and compete with other groups and give rise to tensions which have to be management. The pluralist organisation has many source of loyalty and authority in groups, trade unions and other sectional interests( Rose,2004). Pluralist organisation approach sees conflicts of interest and disagreements between managers and workers over the distribution of profits as normal and inescapable. According to the pluralist perspective, management-employee conflict is both rational and inevitable and stems from the different roles of managerial and employee groups( Rose,2004). Consequently, the role of management would lean less towards enforcing and controlling and more toward persuasion and co-ordination. Trade unions are deemed as legitimate representatives of employees. Conflict is dealt by collective bargaining and is viewed not necessarily as a bad thing and if managed could in fact be channeled towards evolution and positive change. Realistic managers should accept conflict to occur. There is a greater propensity for conflict rather than harmony. For pluralist perspective, the trade unions are legitimate representative organisations which enable employees groups to influence management decisions. Pluralist perspective also accepts that employees have loyalties to organisations other than their own management and that trade unions are a legitimate source of these loyalties.
The marxist perspective is broader in scope and it also emphases the importance of collective action and organisation explained in terms of mobilisation theory. When the marxist perspective beliefs change, the organisation and society will change. Marxist main discuss the capital society deeply and its production, distribution and exchange system. This perspective is not only analysis industrial relations in organisational job regulation terms, but also discuss industrial relations in social, political and economic terms.
For marxist perspective, it is argued the capitalist system’s weakness and contradiction which can lead to revolution and the ascendancy of socialism over capitalism. According to this perspective, capitalism would encourage monopolies, and at the same time, wages will decrease at minimum standard of living. Capitalists and workers would compete in contention to win ground and establish their constant win-lose struggles would be evident.
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According to the marxist perspective, the economic inequalities are exist in wider social conflict, more specifically within the industrial relations arena and industrial conflict. There are some certain assumptions which are based on the marxist perspective. First one is society changing can lead to class conflict, if without this conflict, the society would stop following. Secondly, the inequalities cause class conflict arise in the distribution of economic power in society. Thirdly, the basic economic inequality is between who own capital and who supply and sell their labour( Rose, 2004). Fourth one is the nature of social and political institutions is derived from this basic economic inequality. Selective recruiment maintained and reinforced inequality and differential access education, government employment and other establishment institutions.
Based on the marxist perpective, the conflict is structural and necessary. There is a example which is industrial conflict for marxist perspective. Industrial conflict always show itself in strikes and other forms of collective action of striking such as working to rule, go-slows and so on. Because of imbalance and division, industrial conflict is continuous and inescapable, and closely associated with political and social conflict. Conflict is therefore seen as inevitable and trade unions are a natural response of workers to their exploitation by capital. Through reducing competition between individual employees, trade unions can enhance their collective industrial power. Trade unions provide a focus for the expression and protection of working classes interests. At the same time, the trade unions are part of political process which can change in the nature of main economic and social systems.
Through the comparison of these three perspectives, they have their own different views of employee relations. Unitary perspective approach is that management and staff, and all members of the organization share the same objectives, interests and purposes; thus working together, hand-in-hand, towards the shared mutual goals and the conflict is perceived as disruptive. Pluralism also tends to see conflict as inherent in workplaces, it approaches see conflicts of interest and disagreements between managers and workers over the distribution of profits as normal and inescapable. Marxist perspective focuses on the fundamental division of interest between capital and labor, and sees workplace relations against this background(Naukrihub, 2007). The conflict for marxist perspective in employment relationship reflect the society structure.
Employee relations can be defined as the complex of interactions among managers, workers, and agencies of the state. For British employment relations, the unions, employers and collective bargaining which are more important job regulation form. Simultaneously, we should examine the role of state and conclude with a review of somr issues of current and future importance. Based on this information, in my opinion, pluralist perpective is appropriate for analysis of employee relations in the UK.
In 1964, the Report of the Royal Commission On Trades Unions and Employers Associations (The Donovan Report) recommended pluralism as a pragmatic, effective alternative to the unitarist approach. This perspective always happened between manager and workers who have conflicts with interest distribution and disagreements, it is inescapable. At that time, the realistic managers should accept conflict occur and it is a greater propensity for conflict, but it is not harmony. Through securing agreed procedures, the realistic managers anticipate and resolve settling dispute.
Britain has a very small Communist Party, which has no seats in Parliament. Nevertheless, it has been influential in some unions, and it contributes to policy debates on the left(Greg and Russell, 1987). In 1896, one of the largest employers’ associations which is employers’ Federation, it is established a national lockout of workers in opposition to union calls for an eight-hour day. Over time, employees required to work more and more. Especially in the early twentieth century, employers’association still operate procedures for resolving industrial disputes, provide advisory and consultancy services( Amstrong, 1984) which indicates employees and manages have more severe disputes than before. Pluralism can help employers resolve the dispute. Pluralism assumes that achievement of consensus and long-term stability in management and worker relations which is the best way to keep balance of the competing groups demands. Management should thus adopt policies and agree to procedures and codes which recognise that conflicting interests exist and they should be willing to negotiate compromises. Collective bargaining can be resolved differences to management and labour. Through legitimate bargaining arrangements between employers and unions, workers can better share in the the profits of business. Thus trade unions can be as a key role which can stands for workers in income distribution.
In UK, pluralism respects the concepts and practicable solutions which were available at the mid 1960s. Trade union organisation was dominant in large industrial sectors. In the UK the problems of world competitiveness were beginning to be understood, but the entire population haven’t experienced a world recession which was influenced by inflation problem and industrial restructuring. Even governments were not powerful enough to influence the direction of union power. Pluralism reflects a stakeholder model of power sharing and distribution of influence. In general, however, industrial relations of pluralist policy application which encourages planning, orderliness and consistency in the management of relations with a unionised workforce. Worker representatives can raised issues legitimately. It also argued formalised consultation and communication procedures which can improve the flow of feedback from staff. This perspective can keep the interests of various stakeholders balance, involved in the creation of the firm’s wealth.
In the 1960s and 1970s in the UK many businesses gave considerable attention to their pluralistic, union-management – policies. In the 1980s, bargaining power and ability to mobilize the workers to reduce the situation to the strike, coupled with competiton in the 1990s pressures greatly reduced in the existing trade union. Managers seem to have learned the lesson to their homes in order and investment policies, and uniform throughout the organization. Personnel management became a more important and specialised function in Britain, especially in the large firms. But the pluralist perspective is that of an organisation that is more diverse with clear differences of values and interpretations exisiting between interest groups. According to the analyse the development of UK employment relations, I consider the pluralist perspective that is appropriate for the analysis of employee relations in the UK.
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