Comparative Employee Relations Term Paper

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Collective Bargaining

Comparison of Japan and South Korea often depicts similarities and differences that cut across social, economic, political and cultural lines of both countries. One area that would give an fascinating topic of analysis is the connection that exists between labor and management, especially as it relates to collective bargaining. This paper will compare and contrast collective bargaining in Japan and South Korea with the intention of identifying similarities and differences.

The paper firstly describes the meaning of collective bargaining. Followed by the discussion on the collective bargaining in Japan & South Korea respectively, which includes the comparison as well as few similarities between both the countries. It further elucidates on what laws are being carried out in terms of employees and employers or unions & management etc.

Introduction negotiation between an employer and a group of employees in order to resolve the conditions of employment is collective bargaining. While, the outcome of collective bargaining procedures is known as a collective agreement. A union or other labor organization often represents bargaining of employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics, CBA).

Federal and state statutory laws, administrative agency regulations, and judicial decisions govern collective bargaining. However, in regions where there is overlap between the state law and federal, the state laws are prevented (Bureau of Labor Statistics, CBA).

Discussion: Comparison & Similarities between Japan & South Korea

Collective Bargaining in Japan

In Japan collective bargaining is carried out at the enterprise level, but federations at a higher level manage it. Every spring the venture unions present argue for pay increases called as the "spring offensive." Though the response of the employers is partial but not controlled by the central employer organization (Benjamin).

When contract is achieved in the main projects in one of the dominant and leading industries, this establishes an outline which is promptly and carefully followed, despite the fact that there perhaps exist differences that depends upon situations, the medium and smaller-sized enterprises, although less openly and directly occupied in the spring wage round, would be influenced by its result and would regulate pay levels as suitable (Benjamin).

Furthermore, just like in Korea, Japan also has the possibility of joint contracts have been extensive in order to cover a broad range of subjects besides wages and hours. This includes matters like, transfer, safety, welfare, staffing, workshop conditions, promotion, regulation and discharge.

Additionally, and unlike South Korea joint consultative committees in Japan are present in sixty percent of all unionized ventures, and in more than seventy percent of the larger enterprises. Moreover, employers have legal compulsions to consult even in enterprises that are without formal consultative committees. Thus, there is a compound and delicate connection between the collective bargaining process and joint consultation (Benjamin).

However, in few cases, the purpose is to attain joint decision through the consultative process, while in few others, consultation takes the shape of former negotiations to collective bargaining, having the majority opinion that joint consultative committees have worked tremendously well for both parties. They have developed into an institution that operates successfully both as a means of joint consultation as well as an opening stage in the process of collective bargaining (Benjamin).

In the last decade joint consultative committees have increased swiftly at the enterprise level, complementing the previous progress and growth of joint consultative committees at the plant level as well as paralleling the growth of enterprise-wide collective bargaining. At the same time, there has been an apparent propensity for joint consultation at the enterprise level in order to engage debates of main corporate business and production decisions, and with a shining potential to develop more (Benjamin).

Thus, with this growth, as compare to South Korea, the Japan Productivity Center has lately recommended one option of attaining a Japanese system of participative codetermination, i-e, the opening of a joint management policy council that is made up of trade union and management council (Benjamin), which would talk about the similar issues as the board of directors and function as an optional addition to top management. In this regard, a joint management policy council of this "shadow board" kind has been tentatively set up in a number of big companies in current years (Benjamin).

Regardless of different approaches in a variety of groups, there is a broad degree of agreement in Japan on three future directions unlike Korea, which are:

The joint consultative committee system should be enhanced so as to boost the implication of worker contribution and inspiration in main corporate decisions.

This sort of growth and expansion should be supported by voluntary agreement rather than by legislation.

With the aim to meet requirements that may take place in the longer term, few but new institutional preparations should be initiated in order to give to worker representatives on a board of auditors or few other top management people (Benjamin).

Collective Bargaining in South Korea

In contrast, the Constitution and the Trade Union Law of South Korea give for the right of workers to collective bargaining as well as collective action. Here the law allows workers to report complaints of unjust labor practices against employers who impede with union organizing or practice bias against union members. Thus those employers who are found responsible of unjust practices can be obligated to restore workers who were dismissed for union activities.

Moreover, unlike Japan South Korea is considered to be among the industrialized countries with the least protections for workers (Nc Buy).

South Korea like the joint consultative committee of Japan has a subcommittee too on the protection of civil servants' basic rights formed by the Tripartite Commission that discusses the founding of a civil servants' union. Five civil servants in July were assembled and investigated by the police with reference to their cause for organizing a rally. However, no legal action was taken against them and no restrictions were placed on them by the government (Nc Buy).

Just like in Japan, South Korea too practice extensive collective bargaining, even with unions whose federations are not familiar or known lawfully by the Government. Additionally, the labor laws do not offer the permission to organize and bargain collectively to neither defense industry workers nor white-collar government employees, even though the Government passed legislation in order to permit government workers to develop workplace councils that started in 1999. This council includes workers at state or publicly run enterprises (Nc Buy).

However, both Japan & South Korea has no autonomous system of labor courts. Both the central as well as local labor commissions develop a semiautonomous agency of the Labor Ministry that arbitrates disagreements in keeping with the Labor Dispute Adjustment Law. Furthermore, every labor commission, which is made up of equal numbers of council of labor and management, along with neutral experts, signify the "public interest (Nc Buy)."

Also, local labor commissions are authorized to make a decision on corrective measures in cases that involve unjust labor practices as well as arbitrate and, in few conditions, mediate labor disputes. However, mediation can be made obligatory in division of the economy and considered to be vital to public welfare, for instance, in utilities and transportation (Nc Buy).

The Government in 1998 set up the Tripartite Commission, comprising representatives from management, labor and the Government in order to deal with issues of labor related to the economic downturn. Tripartite Commission among many other things in its concluded agreement also covered corporate reformation, the raise of basic labor rights, labor environment and conditions, labor market flexibility and unemployment policy (Nc Buy).

Unlike Japan, South Korea here in the work of the Commission made it lawful for companies to lay off workers because of economic hardship and allowed temporary manpower agencies. But disputes in 1999 relating to the execution of the agreement among labor, management, and government representatives concluded in the departure of the KCTU representatives…[continue]

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