Employee Relations

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BTECH Higher National Diploma in Business

Unit Number and Title| 24. Employee Relations |
Start Date| 19/09/2012|
Assignment Due Date | 15/10/2012|
Assessor Name | Ms. Debapriya Sengupta Roy|

Assignment No | 1.|
Assignment Title | Understand the context of employee relations against a changing background| Assignment Brief | In this assignment students will distinguish between unitary and pluralistic perspectives with reference to employee relations, know the changes that have affected trade unionism in the last two decades and be able to explain the role of the main players in employee relations.|

Assignment Task / Description:

Question 1 (L01, Assessment Criteria 1.1)

Outline the characteristics of the unitarist and pluralist perspectives in each of these areas:

* Ideology
* Conflict
* Power
* Processes
* Legitimacy of third party involvement in the employment relationship Question 2 (L01, Assessment Criteria 1.2)

Assess how political, technological, social, economic, and legal changes have affected employee relations in the UK in the last two decades.

Question 3 (L01, Assessment Criteria 1.3)

Explain the role of these players in employee relations:

a. Workers
b. Managers
c. The organisation
d. Specialists
e. Trade union representatives
f. Government specialists
g. Courts of Law
Question 4 (L01, Assessment Criteria 1.3)

After reading the Case Study and conducting some online research on Wal-Mart/Asda, their employment practices and attitudes and approach to dealing with trade unions, answer these questions:

1. On the basis of your research, would you categorise Wal-Mart’s and Asda’s approach to resisting trade union organisation as unitarist or pluralist (union substitution or suppression)? Give examples of the strategy they appear to have adopted 2. Why do Wal-Mart and Asda appear to pursue aggressive policies of union avoidance? 3. Why do you think that Asda employees chose to reject a 10 per cent pay rise, opting instead to maintain union recognition at the depot? 4. Wal-Mart’s strategy of union avoidance is partly a product of the US institutional and cultural context in which the organisation originated. What are the characteristics of the employee relations system in the UK which might make such an approach less appropriate and less likely to succeed? Case Study

Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world employing more than 2.1 million ‘associates’ at more than 8,000 retail units in 15 countries. In the UK, it is the owner of Asda who employ over 170,000 people. Wal-Mart has long been the target of persistent allegations of aggressive antiunionism.

For example, Wal-Mart fought a two-year legal battle to prevent the world’s largest labour union (the All China Federation of Trade Unions) organising in its 60 stores in China (although, the company ultimately lost the battle) (Watts, 2006).

The company clearly states that it does not feel that union presence is needed in the firm, stating on their corporate website that: ‘We are not against unions. They may be right for some companies, but there is simply no need for a third party to come between our associates and their managers’. Wal-Mart suggests that the reason for this is that employee welfare is the concern of the employer. In particular, it suggests that direct communication – an ‘Open Door’ policy that allows grievances to be addressed anywhere up the corporate ladder – negates the need for third-party intervention in disputes between employees and the employer.

However, many claim that Wal-Mart goes far beyond ‘substituting’ for the presence of unions with alternative forms of direct communication. Many unions have accused Wal-Mart of actively suppressing union presence and of ‘union-busting’, a range of practices designed to hinder union activity and dissuade membership among workers. For example, the United Food and...
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