The Employment Relationship Is Viewed In Two Perspectives; The Unitarist And Pluralist Perspectives According To (Armstrong 2012). Essays Examples
Industrial relations paper
Industrial relations and employee voice and participation
Industrial relations is an interdisciplinary field of applied study that deals with the processes and outcomes concerned with employment relationships. In the United states of America, industrial relations is used to refer to the employment relationships involving collective representation of employees through labour unions and employee associations which takes into account all the aspects of people at work. Industrial relations encompass the relationship between management and workers union representatives and officials involving collective agreements, collective bargaining and dispute resolution. (Armstrong 2012). The popularization of the term industrial relations was attributed by Bruce E. Kaufman to a commission on Industrial Relations created by the American the federal government in 1992 to investigate and report on conditions that gave rise to labor problems in the USA. There is a lot of complexity and dynamism in industrial society as they are interrelated but have different attitudes and perceptions. Industrial society consisting of a group, societies and institutions are influenced by external environment one cannot ignore the working aspect of human being
Industrial relations consist of the shareholder who is represented by management or association of employers, employees represented by trade unions and the government who is represented by government agencies concerned with workers, enterprise and their relationship thus creating harmony among the stakeholders. There exist a lot of conflict between the stakeholders, employees and the government as they try to achieve their set goals and objectives.
Unitary theory views an organization as a group that is united and have the same objectives. The authority is single having common values, interests and objectives. In the unitary view, the managers have the right to manage and therefore have the prerogative powers to make decisions and those who challenge are not rational. The society is viewed as a capitalist whith conflicts perceived as frictional and personal. There is Coercion (force) of employees or paternalism where freedom of employees is limited and regulated. In this case, the roles of the trade unions are intrusion from outside, historical anachronism and management only forced to accept trade unions in economic relations.
Pluralism theory is based on collectivism and neo corporatism with the recognition of the trade unions that represent workers in challenging for management decisions by employees. In this approach, there is collective bargain over substantive and procedural issues. Alot of emphasis is laid on the Post-Capitalist society where there distribution of power and authority within the society and also characterized by separation of ownership from management. There is also separation, acceptance and institutionalization of political and industrial conflict and acknowledgement of the differing values, interests and goals. Trade unions have been empowered and mandated to work hand in hand with the management in using the set policies and procedures in dealing with matters concerning individual employees. The resulting conflicts between the employers and employees are resolved by formal agreements which are reached through collective bargaining between employers and the trade unions. A trade union in the pluralist theory aids employees to work as a unit. This enables them to bargain collectively making it difficult for the employer to individually target employees whom are disadvantaged. Many organizations employ several employees who jointly form trade unions that are legitimate and accepted in both economic and managerial relations. Conflicts between the employer and the employee are rational and inevitable and structural and institutionalized. The trade unions are mandated to compromise, negotiate and arrive at an agreement between the employer and the employee. Marxist theory holds that the power of the organization is in the employer and not in the employee and therefore critiques the pluralism theory. The profits of the organization are the drivers of the organization and therefore the employees should be part of the organizational goals. The unions have fewer roles to play since the core value is the attainment of the set goals and values.
HRM officers are mandated to ensure a smooth and coherent running of the organization. They are also involved in the planning, strategizing and policy-making in an organization. Their activities therefore influence the relationship between the staff and employment relationships. The main questioned answered by industrial relations is whether employment and performance will be unilaterally determined by HRM or by both employers and employees through negotiations with trade unions. Unilateral management by HRM is vital when setting the terms and conditions for employment. Trade unions are viewed to be relevant in collective bargaining which points out the management's failure to manage properly its human resources. In America, Labor is integral in the success of an organization. Any given society cannot be truly democratic if it does not provide mechanisms by which employees can are not free to influence and impact on their working terms and conditions. Due to the inherent conflicts of interest between employers and employees, there is a great need for a third party in terms of trade unions since there are alot of areas of common interests between employers and employees despite resulting from their interdependencies. This therefore requires the employers and employees to resolve their conflicting interests for the sake of mutual benefit through their bargaining power. This therefore requires a collective representation of employees through unions in order to establish true freedom of contract. The roles of HRM and IR include hiring staff, negotiation of employment contracts and conditions, performance management and reward systems, dispute resolution, disciplinary processes, ensuring health and safety of staff, employee motivation, design of work, team and organization restructuring and training and development.
Employee relations involve the management of employment relationship between the employer and the employee and the development of a positive psychological contract; mainly because of a decline in industrialization and union membership (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2014). Management of employment relationship is either collectively or individually done. This is accomplished by addressing the terms and conditions of employment, issues arising from employment, providing employees with a voice and fostering employer employee communication (Armstrong, 2011). Employee voice is the ability of employees to make a contribution to the main decisions in the organization (Lucas et al. 2006). It involves all the processes and mechanisms that facilitate the empowerment of employees either directly or indirectly, to contribute to decision-making in the organization. (Boxall and Purcell 2003: 162). This can be defined as a two way communication between the employer and the employer where each of the parties views the other as a mutual partner in the organization.
Employees’ participation and voice in the workplace is a fundamental element of the employment relationship. Employs can raise and pass their information to the employer either collectively through unions where there is bargaining power or individually. Economically, collectivism results in real income redistribution between pay and profits (Farnham & Pimlott as cited by Dibben et al, 2011). Socially, collective bargaining helps in maintaining industrial peace and uninterrupted production (Farnham & Pimlott as cited by Dibben et al, 2011). It also helps in the creation and management of the conditions of employment of employees and also has a political role where it gives both the management and the union shared sovereignty over the governing of employees.
The scope of works councils coves information rights on financial issues, and consultation rights including the implementation of new technologies; workforce planning, working conditions; and job specifications. German WCs also have joint decision-making rights with regard to remuneration, recruitment, work plans covering ‘social’ matters such as the principles of remuneration, PRP, work schedules, overtime, holidays and firing.
When the employees are not involved in the decision making in the organization or lack of employee representatives, the employees will just have to accept any proposal given to them by the management or decide to terminate and leave the job if they feel discontented by the proposal. The employee voice and participation is integral in the employment relationship. In the USA and UK, organizations operating within a neo-liberalist framework apply the unitarist HR management approach where the managers have the powers to make all the decisions touching on the organization without involving the employees. Such organizations tend to uses the HR practices that promote employee ‘engagement’ through direct communication to workers with intentions of providing the employees with certain information touching on the organization without engaging them in any kind of discussion.
Countries such as France and Germany use the pluralist management approach in dealing with their workers. The employees are given a collective voice and participation in the decision making process in their organizations. The collective voice is given through trade unions of employees and/or works council representation. The employees are therefore an integral part of the organization in the decision making process. This is usually entrenched in the legislative laws of many countries in Western Europe where it is introduced ‘as an integral statutory part of the post-war industrial relations system to aid co-operative efforts for economic recovery’ (Salamon 2000: 400).
In Germany, legislation requires the establishment of works councils in all the organizations with more than five employees. The roles of these councils is to deal with the information rights on financial issues, and consultation rights such as implementation of new technologies, workforce planning, working conditions and job specifications of employees. Employees in such companies also enjoy joint decision-making rights with regard to remuneration, recruitment, work plans covering ‘social’ matters such as the principles of remuneration, PRP, work schedules, overtime, holidays and firing. These services have not been well entrenched in most countries such as UK. This is because the concept has not been entrenched in the UK legislations since companies use the unitary approach method are capitalists. The German model is more of pluralistic approach and communist therefore not adopted much in the capitalist states.
Through employee participation and voice, the employees are able to pursue their rights of work. This include rights to be provided with financial information of the company and information regarding to various company policies and practices to decision making such as changes in working hours; criteria for hiring staff; and disciplinary procedures. Involving the employees in the decision making of the organization ensures that the productivity of the organization rises. This is because the employees will feel recognized and part of the organization. This will also help in the maintainancce of the employees for a longer period of time. This will also help in minimizing conflicts that may arise during the working process and reduce dangers associated with psychological disturbances.
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