Employee Relations Industrial Conflicts and Collective Disputes  Essay

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Employee Relations:

Industrial Conflicts and Collective Disputes:

Efficient and good industrial relations are usually dependent on the consistent, just and reasonable treatment as well as participation of the staff in issues and decisions that have an impact on them. The ideological framework of industrial relations involves the maintenance and enhancement of human resources procedures and policies. This framework of industrial relations also ensures that there is unbiased and consistent application of joint and consultative agreements. In this case, it includes the approved procedures of tackling disputes, grievances and issues regarding discipline. Industrial conflict basically refers to all the expressions of displeasure in the employment relationship particularly those that are related to employment contract and the effort bargain.

This type of conflict can also be defined as a pulling out from work by a group of employees or the rejection by employers to permit employees to work (Prit, 2008). The major causes of industrial conflict include wage demands, working conditions, management policy as well as political goals and social issues. Industrial conflict is classified into two main categories i.e. informal and formal industrial conflict with the informal one not based on any systematic organization. On the other hand, formal industrial conflict is reserved for the systematic expressions of conflict that are raised through trade-unions or employee representatives. Unlike the formal industrial conflict, the informal industrial conflict is totally expressive in nature since it directly emanates from a sense of complaint. The formal industrial conflict is intended to be strategic or instrumental instead of being purely expressive and may sometimes involve employees who aren't personally involved in the issues at stake. Industrial conflicts are usually resolved through a spirit of cooperation between employers and their employees.

Employment disputes are basically classified into two main categories i.e. individual and collective disputes with individual disputes being those that involve a single employee or worker. On the other hand, collective disputes involve groups of employees or workers who are always represented by a trade union. These kinds of disputes are further divided into two major sub-categories which are rights disputes and interests disputes. While rights disputes emanate from disagreements regarding the implementation or understanding of statutory rights, interests disputes usually arise from disagreements in the determination of rights and duties. Furthermore, rights disputes can arise from differences over the established rights in an existing collective agreement whereas interests disputes can arise from modification of existing rights and duties.

In efforts to resolve collective disputes, the kind of the dispute usually has a significant legal and strategic consequence in determining resolution methods. For example, a rights dispute with a valid and established collective agreement may contain provisions that must be adhered to by the parties in the event of a dispute. Notably, legal provisions that necessitate compliance with certain procedures in specific collective disputes always depend on the country where the disputes arise. Generally, resolution of collective disputes basically involves three options i.e. conciliation, mediation and arbitration regardless of the type of the collective dispute at hand ("High-level Tripartite Seminar," 2007).

Mediation is usually a step that follows if negotiations to resolve a collective dispute are unsuccessful and involves the introduction of a third party to help in finding an agreement. Conciliation is defined as the formal procedure of resolving a dispute when it cannot be settled and may sometimes be referred to a third party. In cases where conciliation is unsuccessful, arbitration is used in which the arbitrator reviews the arguments of both parties and makes the final decision. While the process of arbitration is similar to the procedures of conciliation, the final decision by the arbitrator is legally binding to the parties involved in the dispute. These basic methods of collective dispute resolution are sometimes ineffective and necessitate the adoption of other procedures like the legal system. The court is used to resolve such disputes in places where common law applies and goes beyond the boundaries of a quick resolution. For instance, a country's legal system can be used to resolve a collective dispute when it's considered to be a violation of the law such as contract law or tort law.

Collective Bargaining:

Collective bargaining is defined as the activities, processes or procedures that lead to the conclusion of a collective agreement. In resolving many disputes, the context of collective bargaining is used to establish private arrangements for dispute resolution. In the past several years, the nature of collective bargaining has been largely impacted by the significant changes in the world in the past three decades. The major factors that have had varied and significant effects on collective bargaining include economic restructuring, globalization, political and social democratization as well as the increasing autonomy of trade unions.

The importance of collective bargaining at the enterprise level has increased due to the harsh competition from globalization and technological innovation. These two factors have resulted in the increase of the significance of collective bargaining at the enterprise level by reducing the influence exercised by sectoral agreements in many countries. The subjection of national economic policy and successive economic crises has made collective bargaining to lose some of its margin of maneuver (Gernigon, Odero & Guido, 200).

On the basis of the covered categories, the scope of collective bargaining has diminished because of the high levels of unemployment and the growth of the informal sector. Additional factors that have led to this decrease are subcontracting and the different forms of non-standard employment relationship. However, regardless of these factors and the diminishing scope of collective bargaining, there has been a certain trend for collective bargaining to grow in the public sector. Therefore, it's important to note that collective bargaining is not by any means resistant to the major and influential political, social and economic changes experienced across the globe. More importantly, collective bargaining necessitates the parties to acclimatize to the changing circumstances of the particular context where work is carried out.

Processes of Negotiation:

The negotiations between two parties in collective bargaining are crucial to the achievement of collective agreements and involve various processes or procedures. The first process in negotiation is the preparation stage which involves the composition of a negotiation team that made up of representatives of both parties ("Collective Bargaining Process," n.d.). One of the most critical aspects of this process is the need for the negotiation team to possess adequate knowledge and skills for negotiation. The next process involves discussion where the respective parties decide on the ground rules that will govern the negotiations. The establishment of these ground rules is for the purpose of creating an environment mutual understanding and trust.

The next phase is the proposal process where the preliminary opening statements and the likely options to resolve them are made. The process is also described as the brainstorming phase since messages are exchanged and the opinions of both parties are sought. The next process of negotiation is bargaining where compromises are made and a problem-solving attitude adopted. The final process of negotiations in collective bargaining is the settlement phase in which a consensual agreement is made with both parties agreeing to a common decisions about the issue or problem.

An example of the application of the process of negotiation in collective bargaining is in a situation that involves wage issues. The process begins with the selection of employees' representative and employer's representatives to form the negotiation team. As part of the process of establishing the ground rules for negotiation, these representatives checks the already established laws to determine whether there are laws that they are required to adhere to. Then, both the employees' and employers' representatives present their proposals regarding wages and they began discussions regarding the reasons for their proposals. During this process, these representatives are required to negotiate the wage concerns in good faith rather than the mere acceptance or refusal of the tabled proposals. Finally, after comprehensive and conclusive negotiations, the parties agree on a common conclusion regarding the wages issues.

Employee Participation and Involvement:

Employee participation and involvement is considered as a process of empowerment in the workplace environment since it's the process with which employees are involved in an organization's decision-making processes instead of simply complying with orders ("Employee Participation," n.d.). As one of the empowerment initiatives, this process decentralizes power within the organization to other subordinate segments in the workplace. Employee participation and involvement results in team working which in turn encourages employees to make decisions for themselves based on the established guidelines and frameworks in the organization.

In many organizations, employee participation and involvement is partly a response to the quality movement since individual employees are motivated to take responsibility for quality through activities that meet the customers' needs. Moreover, employee participation and involvement is also part of the human resource development in contemporary organizations. This concept ensures that there is a balance between control and empowerment of employees by an organization's human resource management. One of the major advantages of employee participation and involvement is the fact that it promotes good employee relations. Employee…

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