Various disasters and incidents that regularly occur highlight the need for companies and public bodies to question the ethical nature of their activities. Such ethical questions are concerned with whether we ought or ought not to perform certain actions and about whether those actions are right or wrong, good or bad, worthy of praise or blame, virtuous or vicious, reward or punishment, and so on. Consequently, business ethics is the application of ethical reasoning specifically to business activities or situations so that moral issues that arise within the business can be resolved or provide those actions with a sounder and better basis that they might otherwise have (Paliwal, 2007).
It provides a way of looking at the reasons behind ethical infractions which occur in a business and the way such infractions can be dealt with by regulators, managers, and other interested parties in improving business ethics. Thus, business ethics helps in improving ethical decision making by providing managers with appropriate tools and knowledge which allow them to correctly identify, analyze, diagnose and provide solutions to ethical dilemmas and problems they are confronted with (Santa Clara University, 2010).
This paper discusses the options that the HRM/ER professional can take in dealing with the ethical dilemma presented in the case study of miners in china, where the interests of the senior management are seen to be in conflict with the interests of their employees. It is necessary to first understand that professional HR/ ER is concerned with the creation of good relationship between the employers and employee by considering both their common and divergent interests. Marchington and Wilkinson (2006) note that employee relations are characterized by both cooperation and conflict.
Thus, professional HR/ER needs to consider both dimensions of cooperative and adversarial labor relations. According to Braun (2008), the purpose of professional HR/ ER is to provide effective and consistent rule making procedures when dealing with employee relations issues such as fairness and conflicts, and processes that can affect or improve employee behavior or resolve conflicts. Employees expect to be treated in a fair and ethical manner within an environment of mutual respect created by the employers. There is need for HR/ER professionals to solve ethical issues that arise within the organization since, if unattended, they may impact on the employee morale, enthusiasm, and ultimate performance.
They should make every effort to ensure that each issue is well understood and solved in an effective and timely manner. There are various ethical issues that arise from the case study, miners in china, whereby 26 miners were reported dead and eleven trapped underground after a deadly explosion at a coal mine pit in Yuzhou, China's central Henan province, on 17th of October 2010 (BBC, 2010).
The mine owners in China’s mining industry have a particularly high propensity of not caring about the workers safety but are only concerned about their production. In spite of the efforts by the central government to improve the working conditions in different coal mines in the country, there has been a recognized tendency of ignoring the safety of the workers, in favor of profit for an economic boom within the sector.