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1001EHR: Employment Relations-Management Essay Assignment Solution

May 03, 2017
Author : Mike Carey

Internal Code: 1AJ

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Question: In what ways may employers respond to trade unions? How do these possible employer responses influence trade union success in the workplace?

When responding to these questions refer to all or some of the ER actors (employers, workers, trade unions, employer associations, the state) and you may like to focus on including such areas as bargaining , job security and HRM practices. You must also include a theoretical framework, in particular focusing on unitarism or pluralism.

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Responding to the trade unions becomes a complex agenda for an employer. Complexity of the communication results from the fact that the employer does not have to deal with an individual, but with a mass of individuals. It is critically important for an employer to understand that it is imperative to listen and respond to the trade unions in order to ensure a smooth and issue-free working conditions, further crucial for the profitability of the business.

No communication between an employer and a trade union would be fruitful unless the employer understands the basic attributes and attitudes of the trade unions. First thing for any employer getting ready to engage with trade unions is that the trade unions are strengthened by collective thinking, which makes it even more important for an employer to attend to any concerns taken by the union members to the management table. The success and failure of

any business largely depends upon the way its employees work (Newman, 1993). As per reports, there have been approximately 186,000 tribunal claims in the year 2011-12 due to disputes between employer and the union members (Ministry of Justice, 2012). Keeping this in mind, an employer needs to identify the best methods of responding when the trade unions arrive with concerns, issues, complaints, suggests, or discussions.

Responding effectively while dealing with the trade unions is important for the reason that poor handling of such situations could lead to absenteeism, labour turnover, instances of bad time-keeping, and poor performance at the workplace. Failure in proper responding could possibly lead to strikes and lockouts, severely impacting the business. The value of responding to the trade unions appropriately could be better justified by highlighting certain examples. There have been examples of businesses versus the trade unions, which did not showcase an effective communication mutually and lead to low or almost no productivity (Peetz, 2012). Shifting the example from Australia to UK, approximately 455,000 days went unproductive due to no work from the trade unions (Portus, 1959). The union disputes led to 98 stoppages. The business had to face the loss of working days, availability of less workers at work, and dramatic decrease in the projected sales due to stoppages.

The way employers communicate with the trade unions could dramatically change the way business yields profits along with improving the provision of the workspace-related benefits. There are various ways of responding to the trade unions in a way that leads to a desirable outcome. Collective bargaining, consultation, open-door and understanding ERA before meetings are the topmost processes of responding in the time of facing trade unions

(Oxenbridge et al., 2002).

A collective representation of the employees in the form of trade union along with the important personnel from the employer’s side is termed as collective bargaining or negotiation. The term does not necessarily mean that the collective bargaining needs to involve a group of employer or employee, but could also possibly happen between one from each side. In case, a trade union arrives at the doorstep with certain issues related to work and health safety, the collective bargaining would help put important personnel from both sides to sit around the table, discuss the concerns of the union members with regards to the health and safety factors, and arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion. This would help save the time and resources of the employer to convince each employee, as the job is done by the single negotiation occurrence during collective bargaining process.

The use of collective bargaining as a tool to respond would help the trade union succeed at the workplace due to the fact that the concerns, suggestions, and approvals would all arrive at a conclusion after a common point of agreement is achieved. However, the situation might be complicated in the case of more than one trade union members participating in the negotiation, the result might still be acceptable by all. The fundamental idea behind this

method of responding to the trade unions is that talking is the best way of addressing any potential concerns related to the workplace. The presence of collective bargaining had been more in demand to ensure a healthy work environment as compared to having the presence of a trade union. While collective bargaining is identified as a fundamental indicator of free association between an employer and union, it opens the channels of negotiating hard from both the sides in order to secure the professional and personal benefits of the trade unions.

Highlighting an example of collective bargaining, Telstra had to initiate talks over the table with the union in the collective bargaining frame in order to retain the business in the year 2009 (Brigden, 2010). The fact could be further highlighted by taking another example of the Democratic Party of Japan, where the traditional means of employment had been going on since a long time in the history, but the approach of collective bargaining took better space in the year 2008-2009, where there was a dramatic increase in the number of employer- employee negotiations for arriving at a mutually beneficial outcome (Morishima, 1991).

Consultation is another way with which an employer could enter into a result-oriented communication with the trade union. Consultation is different from the collective bargaining process as it does not involve a mandatory acceptance of suggestions from the union. It could simply collect the proposition from the trade union representation before decision and consecutive implementation. By adopting this means of communication, the employer would be able to remain intact in the business boundaries along with the norms and the protocol, while the employee concerns would also be heard, registered and addressed. Consultation might not promise being as flexible as collective negotiation, but it restores a positive workplace environment by collecting the suggestions from the representatives of the union, analyses the given suggestions, and implements in a way that is best for business and trade union members.

Open-door policies do not just open the doors for the union members to enter into a flexible communication with the management, but also lead to reduction of instances of anger and rebellion leading to strikes and lockouts. Traditionally, trade unions and employers had been entering into a communication setup under predefined set of norms and obligations (Martin, 1975). In this policy, the employer enables the free movement of any union member to walk-in in order to discuss any concerns at the preliminary level, without taking it to a larger and more serious level. The efficacy of the open-door method of responding to the call of union members is justified by Walmart, where it encourages the union members to get their concerns registered directly by walking-in to the management corridors (Denton, 1993).

The fourth way for an employer to be aware of while responding to the trade union is by being completely aware of ERA, roles, responsibilities, and obligations of the employer and the union members. This method of responding to any communication opened by the trade union might be counted as the least flexible among all the above listed ones, but it ensures adhering to the protocol of the business and the norms of the workplace. It is the duty of the employer to be well aware of the ERA policies and responsibilities before entering into any organised meeting with the trade union representative(s). This would help secure valuable time by directly aligning the complaints with the best business could do to address to the issue. As the decisions taken are covered by the boundaries of pre-defined rules and regulations, it becomes easier to accept and reject the suggestions provided by the trade union

representatives. This further helps in avoiding any strikes and lockouts, as each communication is protected by the agreements every employee is well aware of.

Negotiations, meetings and discussions are more result-centric and time-saving when they are systematically woven around business goals, employment agreements, and announced terms and conditions. The communication in this way is quick and concrete for quick decision-making and implementation.

The effectivity of communication between employer and employee depends entirely upon the balance maintained between the mutual interests of both the parties. At one side, where the employer wishes to secure its profits by bringing the employees and union members to workplace, the other side highlights the actions taken by the union members to secure the working and living conditions on personal as well as collective grounds. Healthy communication between an employer and the trade unions not just helps maintain a positive work environment, but also in making the implementation of business-decisions easy.

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