Industrial Relations

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Who are the main actors in the industrial relations system and describe precisely what they do.
Jamaica like the rest of the Caribbean islands had had a difficult formation. Because of the problems of incorporating this Caribbean Society there have been by and large certain problems which have manifested its people and relationship its economy, political and social structures.

Jamaica labour relations are deeply rooted in the experiences of slavery and in the Plantation System. Where there has been a large concentration of unskilled workers with masters and authoritarian management where decision making was one way from management to the workers. As a result of this, working conditions and relationships became explosive at times to the point of years of management and worker conflicts here in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

The disturbances of the 1860’s in Jamaica and again in the 1930’s in Jamaica and the Caribbean are important to demonstrate how serious working condition had become in Jamaica.
Today although the Plantation system and slavery have disappeared the same conflict between labour and capital continues to the point where the Caribbean governments have had to give serious thought and action to legislation to develop a sound labour relations and industrial system to promote harmony, fairplay and good relations between labour and capital.

The Tripartite System has been established to foster and promote industrial peace and uphold the Labour Relations Industrial Disputes Act and other labour laws. Arbitration is the final level a dispute can be taken after all other alternatives have been explored. Conciliation as provided by the Ministry of Labour is done through officers who act as third party to resolve disputes before or after industrial action.

The inherently dynamic nature of Organizations is that they are essentially made up of two (2) groups of workers, management such as executive level personnel including board of directors, presidents and individuals reporting to them and occupational groups for example line staff including rank and file, clerical, and maintenance employees. There are different types of businesses; namely family owned, publicly traded and privately owned companies.

Management seeks to make sure that the vision and mission of the Company is achieved and ensure that workers output are maximized and objectives/goals are reached. However, the intention of the entities and those of the workers may invariably come in conflict or contention from time to time.

Quite often workers are intimidated by management and therefore feel comfortable being represented by a Union as it allows for less personal interaction with those that are directly supervising them on a day to day basis. One important factor of having third party intervention in resolving disputes is that it allows for a more cordial and cooperative environment to prevail after disputes have been resolved. This helps tremendously in fulfilling managements’ and the organization objectives because it is management who has the primary objectives of the organization that have to be achieved.

Union is a legally recognized bargaining representative for a group of workers in an organization. One Union can represent a number of different groups within the same entity and similarly; varying groups can represent diverse categories of workers namely; supervisory, and administrative or production and maintenance staff. The advantage of the union is that as a third party it has the disposition to be more objective in seeking to resolve disputes in the work environment between the two primary parties, the workers and management.

In this established arrangement there is an innate contract between management and workers and that is quality work will be provided for a fair and reasonable level of compensation. Non-the-less there are occasions when there are difficulties in establishing...
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