How Unions HR and Governments Work Towards Worker Safety Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Unions, HRM and Government Intervention

Unions, human resources management personnel, and government interventions all set about addressing worker rights and safety in different ways. For instance, in the early 20th century, unethical companies were exploiting child labor and allowing unsafe practices to continue at workplace environments. The government finally enacted laws curbing these activities: it created the 40-hour work week, the minimum age law, and the Food and Drug Administration to oversee regulatory practices and ensure safety in production. This is primarily the way that government intervenes -- through laws and rules and regulations.

Unions and human resources management personnel, however, address these issues different. Human resources attempts to ease situations under company control and to impact workers through direct action and leadership skills. Jacqui, Cairncross and Lamont (2014), for instance, observe that identifying the needs of employees allows managers to steer their workers towards the goals of the organization by supporting them from behind. For example, by meeting the emotional needs of workers through the implementation of EI, a positive workplace culture can be effected and substantial employee development undertaken -- and this helps to ensure that workers' rights and safety needs are being met because it puts the worker at the front and center of the organization, focusing on the worker first and foremost in order to make sure he is happy and effectively productive. Moreover, by focusing on the positive effects that employees have not only on each other and the organization but also in the community, managers can support the sense of self-worth in employees that helps to build stronger relationships and a more productive environment. Workers respond well to the idea that they are engaged in work that is both beneficial to themselves and to the world around them, according to Rogers, Jiang, Rogers and Intindola (2015).

In fact, there are many ways that human resources management personnel can participate in this kind of leadership that helps promote workers rights. One way to do it is to provide managerial support that incentivizes the workers within the company: plans like profit-sharing, health care, and a good 401k are examples. Showing employees that their concerns are the organization's concerns sets the tone and the necessary example that managers and team leaders want their workers to show to customers and to the organization in return. It is a reciprocal relationship at root and one that is based upon the notion that all people want to be cared for.

However, sometimes managers have their hands tied because the companies they work for do not want to generate or foster a positive workplace culture, which leaves managers in the lurch. This is where unions come into play, because they can help to stick up for workers' rights when company owners and directors dismiss the worker as secondary in the quest for ever greater profits. A good HRM staff will put people over profits and a good company will do the same -- pursuing success the way Southwest Airlines does by putting people first. But this is not always the case with companies and thus unions enter into the question as a result.

As Beer et al. (1984) note, "Workers councils and collective bargaining are examples of legislated governance mechanisms that serve the same purpose" (p. 21) as the aims of the human resources management personnel team which is attempting to appease all stakeholders within an organization. Only in this case, the union that oversees the collective bargaining on behalf of the worker is representing the…

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