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200719 Industrial Relations And Workplace Change

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Answer any 3 questions from the list below.


Bray, Waring, Cooper and Macneil (2014, p. 50) suggest, “The distinctive feature of unitarist values is the assumption that employment relationships are essentially harmonious, with employees and employers sharing common interests and goals”. Yet Bray et al (2014, pp. 363-64) also assert, “Unitarism, for example, sees … where industrial conflict exists, … [one solution is to] expel the agitators from the organisation … [to] return the employment relationship to the expected equilibrium”.

Is it possible to retain the common interests and goals assumptions of unitarist values when management adopts this response to the signs and symptoms of covert workplace conflict?


Kotter and Schlesinger (2008), unit Supplementary Readings Week 3, argue there are four “most common” reasons why people resist workplace change: (1) parochial self-interest; (2) misunderstanding and lack of trust; (3) different assessments; and (4) a low tolerance for change.

Which of these four reasons best explains the reaction of the warehouse employees to the workplace change attempt outlined in the (Week 4) “Introduction of new technology at FoxMeyer Drugs” case study?


Both Kirsch and Wailes (2012) and Marchington and Kynighou (2012),

unit Supplementary Readings Week 8, discuss aspects of the “Varieties of Capitalism” (VoC) framework to explain similarities and differences in management decision-making and industrial relations outcomes. How useful is the VoC framework in understanding contemporary workplace change?  In your answer discuss relevant examples.


Please read the Australia Post case study below:

The Australian Medical Association has accused Australia Post of tampering with doctors’ honesty and ethics by seeking second opinions when workers produce medical certificates for sick leave. The postal workers’ union has also banned Australia Post’s new Attendance Improvement Management System, which the union described as ‘a management tool to bully sick and injured workers’.

Australia Post says the system is aimed at a “small minority” of its 35000 workforce who abuse leave entitlements and inflate the company’s sickies bill of about $35 million a year. The system, which began last month, targets workers who take 10 days’ sick leave a year or six days’ leave in a month – taken on Mondays, Fridays, pay days or days before and after public holidays.

The performances of those targeted are reviewed twice in eight months, then workers involved are sent to a company doctor. AMA vice-president Mukesh Haikerwal yesterday labelled the system as “disrespectful and questionable”. He challenged the role and motive of Australia Post-designated doctors. “It’s really a question of who’s paying the piper and who is best placed to make a decision regarding the health of the patient”, he said. Dr Haikerwal said the duplication of medical resources was wasteful to the company and to Medicare. “But it is also disrespectful to doctors and provides a lack of continuity of care”, he said.

Communication Workers Union secretary Joan Doyle said the system had been banned because it discriminated against workers and doctors and abused privacy laws. “What they are really saying is the worker's family doctor is a liar”, she said. “Often Australia Post will send you to more than one doctor until they get the right answer. It’s not just bullying workers, it’s an abuse of the health system.” Ms Doyle said some company doctors were notorious. One was nicknamed Dr Voltaren, after an anti-inflammatory drug. Ms Doyle said the doctor once prescribed the drug to a man whose family doctor later diagnosed a fractured elbow.

Australia Post spokesman Matt Pollard said the new system was about counselling workers who appeared to have taken an unusual amount of sick leave, and managing cases to improve their health or family situations.

The Australia Post Collective Agreement has a “Managing Change” clause. The clause contains the following paragraph:

“The managing change process described in this clause applies to changes in work activities or services, hours of operation or working hours, organisational structure and work processes, technological change or the redeployment of staff members.”

The CEO of Australia Post has asked you, the company’s Senior Human Resources Officer, to write a short report of about 650 words addressing the following two (2) issues:

(a) Are the changes introduced by Australia Post management covered by the “Managing Change” clause? If so, why?  If not, why not?

(b) What are the justifications for the Communication Workers Union to be involved with the introduction of the Attendance Improvement Management System?

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