Advantages And Problems Facing Employers Commerce
Employee relations can be defines as an underlying viewpoint, along with essential attitudes and skills, rather than a precise management function or well-defined activity.
The genesis of employee relation started from Margret Thatcher, as her introduction of her new policy to reduce the involvement of the trade unions whose leadership she accused of damaging constitutional equality and economic performance through strike actions.
Several unions started strikes to respond to legislation introduced to limit their power, but the opposition eventually ended.
Only 39% of union members voted for Labour in the 1983 general election.
According to the BBC, Thatcher "managed to destroy the power of the trade unions for almost a generation." The miners' strike was the major conflict between the unions and the Thatcher government.
This act that Thatcher carried out has caused the introduction of non-union organisations; this also weakened the effect of the trade union as a whole in the UK.
The foundation of the capitalist market is the employee relationship.
The fact that employees and employers are linked in association makes conflict inevitable, the sole aim of the employer is to high productivity and as much profit as possible from their employees while employees on the other hand want more pay and the work conditions to be improved on.
For these contrasting to combined, the trade union organizations which is seen to offer a means of self-defence for the employees which have very little say in an organisation is involved to serve as an intermediary, however the trade union can also be seen as an unnecessary evil .
Any organisation that accepts the trade union perspective is adopting a pluralist approach to their industrial relation: Which agrees that their employees may have different goals, aims and objectives but they may differ in relation to that of the company's and this organisation recognises rival leadership (trade union) which has a certain level of contribution to the decisions being made by the management of the organisation through something known as collective bargaining.
Pluralists argue that conflict is legitimate and unavoidable in any organisation.
a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their working lives." (Webb 1920).
The trade union act is concerned with improving the structure of the trade union with the sole aim of making the trade union responsible for their members together with further limitations on industrial actions.
The main provision for the act involved the legal criteria for union elections, legal criteria for industrial action ballot, legal criteria for political fund ballot.
The role of the trade union is to: discuss any problems an employee has their employers, accompany the employee to disciplinary or grievances hearing, represent employees with collective bargaining over the employees pay and their terms and conditions, negotiate with the employers and try to resolve any issues in the work place and find agreements and to discuss with employers on behalf of the employees about how work environment have can be improved.
With the presence of the union the general union density dropped from 65% in the 1980s to 36% in 1998.
The fall that took place between 1990 to 1998 dropped by 25% of which most of the fall came about in bot private manufacturing and service sector there was not much of a fall in the public sector most of the smaller organisations had a larger decline rate that the bigger organisations.
There is also a significant difference in union density across work place, for instance, the number of non-union members in workplaces have increased by 30% of all work places in the 1980 to 47% in the 1990.
The fall in trade union recognition for purpose of collective bargaining regarding pay and work conditions (joint regulation) is examined in detail by WERS.
Due to the fact that newly established workplaces were less likely to recognise trade unions there was a fall between 1990 and 2004.
However there has been a fall in trade union density in the UK since 1990 which has caused attention to be drawn to approaches and forms of managing without the influence of the unions.
Due to this decline there has been an increase in non-union in most organisations in the UK and
Around the world, organisations that implement this style are adopting the unitary approach; in this case the organisations want the employees to embrace the common goals, aims and objectives of the organisation in order for the company to turn out successful.
Winterton (1994) define the unitary approach as, "the enterprise that is seen as a team having common objectives, where managers manage the interest of all and any challenge to their authority from trade unionism is seen as illegitimate." Mcloughlin .et.
al are of the impression that non-union organisations have not yet been investigated by industrial relations researchers.
Table 1 below shows the trade union density among employees in Britain from 1989 - 2009 while Figure 2 shows the trade union membership and density for employees in the UK in autumn 2005, It also shows that there has been a gradual increase in the number of women involved as trade union members in the UK compared to the 1990s.
Table 1: Trade union membership density among employees in Britain, 1989-2009
Membership density (% of employees) Average annual change (% points)
Age less than 30
-0.1%Figure 1:Figure 2:
Figure 3 below shows that the trade union has a share of 36.2% in work environments in the public sector while it has a share of 6.9% in the private sector.
Organisation like NHS, Cadbury, Royal mail cannot be exempted from this category because of their size they cannot do without the influence of trade union to manage their employee relations.Figure 3:
The term "non- union" can be defined as a situation where the trade union is not recognising in an organisation.
Non- union does not always mean a complete absence of trade union (Dundon and Rollinson, 2004), the absence of the trade union is what the non-union is concerned about, hence, the union not having a say in the interference of the terms and conditions of the employment.
Some examples of non-union representations is peer-review dispute representation panel, joint industrial councils, European works style-council.
Organisations like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and McDonalds believe in this non-union ideological (Edwards and Edwards, 2003).
(Guest and Hoque, 1994).
There are several characteristics of non-union organisations , large union firms are widely characterised as: American and privately owned, functional in service areas and non-manufacturing areas, employing white collar staff and not unskilled ones, high in profit and successfully expanding products in their markets, having 'covertly non-union personnel policies', justifying their non-union status by replacing other forms of employee representation and providing higher pay and better work environment.
The human research method in its two main guises is one of many methods to regulating the employment relationship in a non-union firm, newer organisations are more likely to be non-union organisations than older organisations, unions are now being derecognised by firms in their workplaces and organisations, they are more likely to keep a collective orientation towards certain aspects of the employee relations.
Firms and establishments are likely to adopt one of two employer regimes; the traditional which is the HRM condition where employees benefit good working environment and good pay while the approach enjoys flexibility of a disposable work force.
(Guest and Hoque, 1994) have identified four types of non-union establishments explained below;
The "good" establishment: this has clear HRM strategies and involves in some wide practices linked with a positive form of HRM, also high level of commitment, high involvement management and giving non- unionism a good look; hence employees see no reason for trade union in their organisation.
Sophisticated and paternalistic- type employer such as IBM or Mark and Spencer belong to this type of establishment by providing an attractive employment package and wide range of non- union employee voice mechanism.
The " ugly face" establishment: this has a clear strategy but choose to make minimal use of HRM practices, providing a low level of employee rights, there might be a means of depriving staff of a 'voice' for them and also their traditional rights.
This is formally known as the 'efficiency-driven model'.
The "bad" establishment: here the organisation has no HRM strategy and low acceptance of the HRM strategies they are associated with poor management practices which do not recognise human resource issues , thy could also be tagged with (qualifications) benevolent autocrats
The "lucky face" establishment: this is an establishment with no clear HRM strategy but decides to adopt a large number of innovative types of HRM.
They pay their employees less than the market average with little employee remunerations, this kind of organisation is referred to as lucky because the issue of non-union recognition has probably never been raised in detail (Dundon et al, 2004; Gall, 2004).
However the adoption of this strategy without mention to border strategic concerns may or may not be successful.
The degree of lack of recognition of the union in the 1980s and 1990s, and the fall in collectivised employment relations in recent years has dragged attention to the growing the phenomenon of non-unionism.
However it could be said the issue of non-unionism has always existed even at the peak of trade union membership in 1979 where almost half of the work force was non-unionised.
The organisational factor of a company is one clear factor that determines employer's strategies created to exclude the unions.
Some large organisations try to provide their employees with good work environment and good pay in comparison to their counterparts that have the involvement of a trade union in their organisation; this would make the employees find the involvement of the trade union unnecessary.
Millward et al.
(1992) supposed that it is possible that some of the increase in non-union membership came about from compositional changes.
However, there is also a relationship between the size of the organisation and the involvement of trade union organisations; for instance, smaller organisations are less likely to have the involvement of a trade union than larger organisations.
Also the age of the work place has a role to play in weather the organisation would have the involvement of a trade union or not, older places are more likely to have the influence of trade unions than younger places.
According to Gully et al.
(1998), "28% of those work places are at their current addresses for less than 10 years recognise trade unions, compared to the 53% which have been at their current address for 10 years and more."
In this essay I will be analysing the benefits and problems of an employee seeking a non-union working environment and also device a current measure to join the different interests of both employer and employees in paid employment.
The major drawback for an employer identifying trade union is the amount of industrial conflict that is related with it.
A pluralist working environment is known to be more congruent with development in current society; hence, giving room for trade union representation, from which dispute will normally start off from different interest of both parties (Employees and employers).
This can cause a high level of inconveniencies for wide majority of the larger society, for example," in June 1975 representatives of the UK's 35000 junior doctors unanimously voted in support of an industrial action called "work- to- rule" over dispute with department of health over issue of hours pay and condition of work" (Linda Beecham, 28 Aug.
1999) and recently Dr Mark Porter (Medical correspondence for the Times) came out on the 23rd march,2011 "to oppose the cut decision of the Government on the controversial health bill and took a step towards ballot for industrial action over medical staff pay and pension" (The Telegraph 23rd March,2011).
All this actual and proposed industrial actions that disrupt the wellbeing of the society and the peace within the organisation itself will never repeat itself in a non-union work environment.
In BUPA (one of the main private health care providers in the UK) lately put in a program called "PeopleSoft HRMS" which it task comprise providing ongoing coaching and provision for employment relation cases and more, this is an example of a "good establishment" with a good HRM to take care of the well-being of its employees.
BUPA hardly has bad media about their employee relations issues and this give its employees time to focus on the job at hand and not on industrial actions like strike, work-to -rule, go-slows, bans on overtime or call-outs.
Additionally, conflict in a non- union working environment is ready in a timely manner when likened to a unionised working environment.
For example in IBM internal dispute resolution procedure has been set up for members to follow.
At the initial stage any employee that has a problem with his/her pension will firstly have to deliberate the matter with the pension service department, or the issue relates to the structure and level of welfares, it will be directed to the Human resources department.
But if the pension matter is one with the trustee, a two stage formal procedure will apply: in stage one an application will be sent to the Pensions Trust Manager, in which a reply should not take more than two months of receiving the application, if the aggrieved party is not satisfied with the judgement, he/she will proceed to the second stage by writing to the Chairman of the trustee Board within six months of receiving the judgement, requesting him to reconsider the matter.
This process takes longer time than a unionised working environment like NHS, firstly the dispute will be taken to Primary Care Trust (PCT) to resolve the dispute locally this stage alone has five other sub- stages, but if it's not successfully resolved it will be heard by a Strategic Health Authority (SHA) level panel, if it also failed there, it will be referred to a national Independent Advisory Panel.
By virtue of NHS dispute resolution procedure manual paragraph 101, any dispute that cannot be resolved locally after 3 years can be referred to Secretary of state for determination.
In addition employers in a non-union environment take advantage of union wage; this is due to the fact that employees in their working environment lack one voice to negotiate on wage related issue on their behalf.
Union wage premium can be defined as the percentage difference in average per hour pay of union members with non-members, across the UK wage premium stood at 15.3%, in which union members earn an average of £13.60/ hour compare to £11.80/hour for non-union members.
(Labour force survey, last quarter 2009)Figure 4:
An employee can take advantage of the fact that he/ she is earning lower wages in a non-union environment and decided to reduce his/her level of productivity.
Finally, employers in a non- union working environment will be able to determine pay rates based on how well the employee performs, merit and prevailing economic condition which support changing business strategy.
For example a "good organisation" with strategic HRM like IBM, employees are paid on grounds of their skills and their input to the organisation, the employer retains the decision-making power on employee relations; management is able to decide pay rates based on work performance rather than being told that all employees will be paid the same amount irrespective of the amount of work they put.
This creates a sense of mutuality and security between the two parties.
Trade unions help employers to bring several of their employees together under one party which can also be an act of collective bargaining and this common recognition is not available to an employer seeking to manage employee relations in a non- union working environment.
It will cost the employer valuable time and money to negotiate pay rise with individual employees and about other terms and conditions of employment.
This quality time can be invested into other productive avenue within the organisation.
In a non-union environment it has been observed that there is a high level of turnover in a situation where any employee is not satisfied it would only need to a high level of absenteeism(Rose 2008) and the will cause the employee to end up leaving the organisation (Readman and Wilkinson 2009) this type of situation is only likely to exist in a bad or ugly establishment that does not have any HRM policy in place for any employee that is dissatisfied to notify the employer of this dissatisfaction.
This high level of labour turnover will always create a negate press and increase the cost of the employer, as it will cost more to recruit a new employee in replacement of the old one.
However, this extra cost can be avoided in a unionised working environment as the involvement of the trade union could have helped settle the dispute between both parties.
Trade union provides some simple services such as specialist help, advice and guidance, legal representative, training and development etc.
It will cost an employer some extra things to provide such services, because they will need to set up a department to sort out such needs and specialist will be available to carry out some singular activities that will come serve as an additional cost to the employer.
Another problem facing employers in seeking to manage employee relations in a non-union environment is that the employees might seem to feel a sense of injustice as they have little or no say in the running of the organisation and the is no one to represent them or voice out what they have in mind and also voice out on their behalf if they feel mistreated.
Lastly, due to earlier research carried out in this piece of work there is evidence to prove that establishments that are non-union organisations are not as attractive as union organisations to quality applicant; hence, causing non-union employers to attract the rest of the labour market, this is a huge problem amongst graduates and professionals.
In conclusion, non-unionised firms have outnumbered the unionised firms, sole because of the large number of small to medium sized organisation which fall into the non-unionises category, also consider the growing number of small and medium sized firms that have derecognised the unions in recent years.
However the amount of first-hand research into non-union firms, concentrating on how these firms manage lacking unions and employees perceive the employment relationship between them is certainly uneven to the size of the phenomenon.
Some of this research have been criticised because non-unionism is seen as a difficult in relation to those firms that are unionised: evaluations are made on the principles concerning the propensity of the employees to be unionised and dissimilarities in management approaches and style in relation to unionised firms.
(guest et al 1994, turnbull et al 1998, Dundon 2002)