Essays on Industrial Relations & Workplace Change Article

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Question 1Unions are an important drive for an organization’s revenue and successful business practices. When the management recognizes unions, mutual respect and confidence develops between the employer and employees. This way, unions help create a cooperative relationship with the management and can therefore play an important role in overcoming barriers to human resource practices that may hinder employee competitiveness and productivity. In a way, non-unionism denies employees and employers the opportunity to attain competitive advantages through the development and application of human capital. In particular, unionism has the advantage of promoting the independent voice, which cannot be substituted by any managerial practices.

As such, Flood and Toner’s understanding of non-unionized workplace is not likely to accommodate successful workplace change, especially in today’s workplaces. Their understanding clearly seems to downplay the important benefits that organizations gain through the collective bargaining power of employees. According to Pyman, Cooper, Teicher & Holland (2006) the first step in transforming an organization into an all time productive entity is the recognition of trade unions by employers. It is therefore imperative for an organization to implement policies that consistently encourage and support collective bargaining. The other negative side of non-unionism is that it does not promote collective agreements between employers and employees, which can address a number of issues that can be beneficial to both employers and employees.

Therefore, recognizing unions is an essential initiative that can help bring together employees and management in a partnership, which outlines policies for instituting fair workplace processes. Salamon (2000) has explained that some management may find it necessary to work under non-unionism but when they recognize the power of unions, the results are immense and beneficial to all stakeholders.

It is for this reason that some organizations have departments of industrial relations separate from the human resource department and whose core function is to form and maintain a functional machinery of joint consultations. Such a department is responsible for keeping in touch with the state of employee-employer relations and advising the management of existing or potential industrial relations problems. Another important reason why Flood and Toner’s argument cannot add any meaningful value to workplaces is that non-unionism denies the opportunity to settle disputes by negotiation, conciliation or arbitration.

In fact, where the management recognizes unions, all rules and regulations governing unionism are known to the human resource officers and employees. This enables all employees to have adequate knowledge of procedures for negotiation and consultation and the importance of formal and structured consultation, which translate into job satisfaction, good human resource practices and improved performance. In his argument, Pyman, Cooper, Teicher & Holland (2006) says that unions not only contribute to managerial competence and organizational competitiveness, but they also ensure that employees benefit from good workplace practices and hence secure their own relevance in organizations.

This important contribution that unions make is complemented by appropriate and relevant human resource management practices and the willingness of employees to engage in consultative relationships. A classic research by Spencer (2008) reveals that managements that recognize the power of unionism do not engage in negative practices such as autocratic management or adversarial industrial relations. Researchers have also shown that the existence of unionism is essential in reducing conflicts arising from the workers resentment of the manager’s powers.

Where the management is cooperative and ready to acknowledge the feelings of others, conflicts are likely to be reduced. Putting too much emphasis on union efficiency is essential in improving labor turnover, poor work and strikes. In fact, non-unionism lacks the ability to cultivate good relationships between the management and employees. Such relationships can only thrive under unionism and they help determine the success of organizations. This way, unionism helps maintain and promote the welfare of both the management and employees.

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