Approaches to Industrial Relations
The industrial relations scenario and factors affecting it, has beenperceived differently by different practitioner and theorist. Some haveviewed it in terns of class conflict; some have viewed it in terms ofmutuality of interest of different groups; some have viewed it as aconsequence of interaction of various factors both within anorganization and outside it. Based on these orientations, severalapproaches have been developed to explain the dynamics of IR.
In unitarism, the organization is perceived as an integrated and harmonious system viewed as one happy family. A core assumption of unitary 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. Furthermore, unitarism has a paternalistic approach where it demands loyalty of all employees. Trade unions are deemed as unnecessary and conflict is perceived as disruptive. From employee point of view, unitary approach means that:
Working practices should be flexible. Individuals should be business process improvement oriented, multi-skilled and ready to tackle with efficiency whatever tasks are required. •
If a union is recognized, its role is that of a further means of communication between groups of staff and the company.
The emphasis is on good relationships and sound terms and
conditions of employment.
Employee participation in workplace decisions is enabled. Thishelps in empowering individuals in their roles and emphasize steam work, innovation, creativity, discretion in problem-solving, quality and improvement groups etc. •
Employees should feel that the skills and expertise of managers supports their endeavors.
From employer point of view, unitary approach means that:
Staffing policies should try to unify effort, inspire and motivate employees.
The organization's wider objectives should be properly
communicated and discussed with staff.
Reward systems should be so designed as to foster to secure
loyalty and commitment.
Line managers should take ownership of their team/staffing
Staff-management conflicts - from the perspective of the unitary framework - are seen as arising from lack of information, inadequate presentation of management's policies. •
The personal objectives of every individual employed in the business should be discussed with them and integrated with the organization’s needs.
In pluralism the organization is perceived as being made up of powerful and divergent sub-groups - management and trade unions. This approach sees conflicts of interest and disagreements between managers and workers over the distribution of profits as normal and inescapable. 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.
They should anticipate and resolve this by securing agreed procedures for settling disputes.
The implications of this approach include:
The firm should have industrial relations and personnelspecialists who advise managers and provide specialist servicesin respect of staffing and matters relating to union consultationand negotiation. •
Independent external arbitrators should be used to assist in the resolution of disputes.
Union recognition should be encouraged and unionrepresentatives given scope to carry out their representativeduties Comprehensive collective agreements should be negotiated with unions.
This view of industrial...
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