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This Employee Relations Assignment aims to provide an overview of the employee relations scenario prevalent and also provide a glance into its brief history. The main players in employee relations, means of conflict resolution and the effectiveness of procedures used in solving conflict resolution issues are also discussed. Collective bargaining and negotiation process that are so vital to employee relation issue resolutions are also dealt with. Finally aspects of employee participation and involvement in the employee relations arena are discussed. All in all, this Employee Relations Assignment will drive down the importance employee relation occupies in any industry or large or medium sphere of business activity
Alan Fox (1966), as summarized by Morrell (n.d.) under the unitary frame, it has one source of authority and a single focus of loyalty, the reason why it proposes the team analogy. What array of behaviour do we anticipate from the memberships of the healthy and successful functioning team? We anticipate them to endeavour jointly towards a shared objective, each pulling his or her weight to the best of his or her capability. Each accepts his or her place in his or her function happily, ensuring the leadership of the person so appointed. There exists no opposing factions or groups, and thus no competing leaders within the team. Neither are there any outside it; stands alone the team, its members owing loyalty to their own leads but no others.
Alan Fox (1966), as summarized by Williams (2005) explains pluralism as instead of a corporate unity mirrored in a single focus of loyalty and authority, we have to accede the presence of rival sources of attachment and leadership. They need to be acceded above all, by whoever is governing the plural society in question. The pluralist frame of reference is a viewpoint that recognizes the presence of a basic resentment in the employment relationship and so the unavoidable potential for conflict. Pluralism recognizes that employees and employers have different interests that require to be reconciled if the company is to function effectively. The main concern of pluralists is in making sure that any conflict that sprouts from differences of interest is handled appropriately and controlled in a way that inhibits it from causing too much interruption.
There are many factors that have joined to contribute to the weakening in both union influence and strength as noted in the Sagepub website (2010). The transition from a manufacturing to a service based economy has implied that much of the conventional heartland of trade union membership and activity has been worn out. Trade unions have conventionally been less well formed in the service sector and the much lesser workplace size in this sector has offered significant constraints to union recruitment and organisation compared to the bigger workplaces associated with manufacturing that are more favourable to worker solidarity. Unions linger to be a robust presence in the public sector yet the vast privatisation during the 1980’s and 1990’s of state owned organisations of the likes of British Airways, British Gas and British Telecom implied that union robustness was further weakened.
For management, the union power’s weakening allowed the reaffirmation of the ‘right to manage’ and concerted efforts to marginalise or derecognise unions. The 1980’s also witnessed growing diversification of managerial practice with the influence of Human Resource Management, the activities of foreign Multi-National Companies and increased scope for innovation allowed by weak unions providing to a mosaic of workplace setups for the management of people. The 1980’s, on the worker side are often associated with burgeoning self-interest and individualism that undermined employee solidarity. A malfunction of unions to sufficiency, respond to labour market change are also argued to have supplied to a reduction in union membership.
The employees, management and trade unions are the three major players in the arena of industrial relations as noted in the ICMR website (2012). The government also has a vital role to play, but comes in only when the main players fail to maintain cordial industrial relations. The government also offers the basic structure for industrial relations by way of its legislation. The machinery of industrial disputes prevention aids in averting scenarios of conflict between the workers and the management that might lead to a lock-out or a strike.
An effective methodology for prevention of industrial disputes is worker participation in management. Employees, by virtue of such participation are duty-bound to stand by all the decisions made. This also aids in bolstering the employee morale and improving their commitment to the company. Some of the usual forms of worker participation in management are joint councils, joint management councils, shop councils, works committees and more.
There are some tips managers can use to negotiate workplace conflict as noted by Jeffrey Krivis and summarised in the business management daily website (n.d.). First, let individuals tell their story. When individuals are profoundly upset on something, they have to get their story out. This forms a basic principle of mediation that ought to be remembered well. Of course, allowing individuals to speak their minds can bolster the degree of conflict with which one must deal. That is fine. One has to get through the conflict stage to arrive at the solution.
To the table, bring a reality check. Frequently in a conflict, the factions are so focused on the minute details that they lose track of the big picture and its ramifications. As the mediator, one needs to bring individuals back to reality by straining their attention away from the minute details and having them concentrate on the big picture. In doing so, it might aid resolution arrive at a breathtaking speed.
Zero in on the true barrier. In every conflict, ask oneself, what is the real motivating factor here? What is actually keeping this individual from agreeing to a solution?
In team conflict resolution scenarios, the vital point is to know when to referee. Employee disputes are inevitable and common. As per Joseph F. Byrnes, the difficult decision is know the moment when to step in. He opines to give the warring factions a chance to solve it on their own.
There are many kinds of conflicts exists in the British airways and British gas which is known as Interpersonal conflicts, strategic conflicts, and structural conflicts. Involvement of supervision and diversity in the strategic planning will resolve the conflicts and problems. At the same time chosen company also ensures many things such as friendly and healthy working environment. Some steps are given below:
In 2002, the Bradford District Council in UK, sought the help of ACAS in extending mediation to possible collective disputes, specifically with regards to the Council department accountable for community transport, garbage collection and vehicles as pointed out in the ILO website (2007). ACAS carried out joint working sessions with both employee representatives and managers. ACAS began by exploring the viewpoints on working relationships and initiated a discussion on more co-operative ways of working. They then introduced the factions to the principles and theory of partnership and emphasised examples of good practices created from experience in other firms. After this initial input, they continued to back the factions in their discussions, proposing means of moving the project onward and overcoming possible barriers.
The council’s target for its mediation programme was to enable a change in the firm’s ethos so that a collaborative approach is utilized to manage all workplace difficulties. Owing to this, there has been a drastic decline in the number of employment tribunal cases, disciplinary cases and individual complaints. Giving individuals back some grip over their working relationships and inspiring unofficial methods of dispute resolution meliorated employment relations over a longstanding period.
ACAS was contributory in extending mediation to possible collective disputes by inspiring open and early communication and by aiding the council and its representative’s transition away from a combative relationship style. Now there exists a more positive discourse within the council’s proven negotiating structures and larger participation in decision making between the employees and the management.
Conflicts are very important part of the British airways because they can bring some necessary changes in the organisation. Interpersonal conflicts, strategic conflicts, structural conflicts etc. exist in the British airways, for the resolution of any type of conflicts supervision and diversity involvement is very necessary. Sometimes some individuals busy in arguments with other, and also interrupts in other works these reasons are the main cause for the conflicts which management need to solve out.
For solving the conflicts it is very necessary to understand the nature of conflicts and according to that strategy and preparation is needed. Management and concerned person must focus on the behaviour of the person not on those factors which cannot be changed.
For solving the conflicts at British Airways it is very necessary important to have strong communication system and strong skills. Apart from this for solving the conflicts skills and knowledge also required. Apart from this employees contribution also very important for solving the conflicts
Mediation seeks to repair and rebuild an employment relationship by way of an independent and impartial intermediary as noted in the ACAS website (2013). This individual could be a specialist mediator or a staff member groomed to act as a mediator. The process of mediation is informal and is not normally legally binding. It is confidential and both factions enter into it willingly.
Resolving workplace disputes basically operates in the same manner as mediation, except it is utilized where a complaint on employment rights has been raised with an employment tribunal.
Arbitration is slightly different from the aforementioned two in that the impartial and neutral third party is asked to take a verdict on a dispute. The two factions offer evidence to an arbitrator, who takes a verdict that they have agreed prior to abide by. In this manner, it can be viewed as a confidential substitute to a court of law or tribunal. As with conciliation and mediation, arbitration is voluntary.
Collective bargaining is a vital tool for enabling genuine negotiation and dialogue over conditions and terms of employment and in constructing productive relationships between the employees, employers and the unions as pointed out in the Ministry of business, innovation & employment website (n.d.). Negotiations form a part of the bargaining process and indicate to any form of dialogue, informal or formal, that is formulated to reach consensus.
If bargaining is going to aid great quality workplaces, a productive exchange has to be there between factions on conditions, quality of the workplace and the wages. The duty of good faith reinforces collective bargaining and needs that factions to bargaining are constructive and active in maintaining and establishing a productive employment relationship. Than the factions are communicative and responsive and utilize their best endeavours to agree on an efficient and effective bargaining process. The factions should meet together and consider and respond to proposals. They need to come up with a collective agreement lest there is an authentic reason not to, based on rational grounds.
Solving problems that come about in negotiations is a vital part of collective bargaining. The first thing is to zero in on the issue and the second is to choose on a strategy to resolve the issue. As first steps, talk about the problem as soon as possible for it may only be a misunderstanding. Have a break such as a walk around, having tea, or having a breather. Have an adjournment to collect information, caucus to discuss options or seek a fresh mandate.
A typical industrial negotiation between managers and trade unions can be really competitive and confrontational in style as noted in the changing minds website (n.d.). Both factions in the negotiation normally have several members on their teams. Typically a team is fronted by a lead negotiator and aided by people and experts whose main task is to watch the other side and observe the body language and other restrained signals. The presence of several can bring about a sense of intimidation. This is heightened if they look scary, are physically large and utilize aggressive body language.
Trade unions in negotiation situations typically adopt a robust style. The standard opener during such meetings is that of the trade union putting forward demands that have been pre-determined by way of several deliberations and meetings. The trade union members are normally really well prepared and have a lucid concession strategy along with a walk-away alternative. Such an alternative usually involves strike action or similar acts. Managers may also repudiate in kind, point-blank refusing any possibility of reducing hours or pay rises or maybe even necessitating reductions in pay, conditions or staff to cope with slumps in business.
Powerful brinksmanship is also an important aspect of industrial negotiations wherein it is characterized by overt use of threats, power and taking things to the precipice and in certain cases even over. The basic tool of the workers is refusal to work. An organisation could punish one or more employee/s or allow that person or them to resign. But, the fact that there is the trade union to represent a huge number of workers accords them power, both in the possible consequences of failure to agree and in the decree that they bring. To cite an example: taking ‘working to rule’ or strike action.
As can be gauged, employee relation occupies a pivotal position in businesses as employees are a core part of any business activity. The scope of employee relations has undergone a sea change in the past few decades but historical studies on the subject are still relevant to gain a holistic view of the topic. The method of negotiations and disputes resolution at a basic level remains the same with some tweaks depending on the industry and the scenario. A case-study approach is very much relevant to the study of employee relations as different industrial dispute resolutions offer solutions to future dispute resolutions also.
ACAS (2013) Mediation, conciliation, arbitration: What’s the difference?[Online] Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4130[Accessed: 19 February 2015]
Bamber, G.J. Lansbury, R.D. &Wailes, N. (eds.) (2011). International & Comparative Employment Relations Globalisation and Change.5th edition. Allen & Unwin.
BUSINESSMANAGEMENTDAILY (n.d.) Managing employee conflict.[Online] Available from:http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/glp/25986/Workplace-Conflict-Resolution.html[Accessed: 19 February 2015]
CHANGING MINDS (n.d.) Industrial relations negotiations. [Online] Available from: http://changingminds.org/disciplines/negotiation/styles/industrial_relations.htm [Accessed: 19 February 2015]
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