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Unitarism

Discuss about the Competing Neuro Behavioral Decision Systems.

The theoretical frameworks of employment law may be classified into unitarism, pluralism and Marxism.

According to the unitarists, a common interest is shared by both the employees and managers with respect to the survival of an organization. If any conflict arise in a workplace then the managers and employees must coordinate and find out a common solution which is desirable for the continuity of a peaceful working condition in a firm. The reasons for which conflict in a workplace arise are because of poor communication, personality disorders, inappropriate recruitment practices, unfair promotion strategies etc. It should be ensured by the management team to address all these issues effectively.  The unitarists do not promote the concept of trade union and believe that individuals, who find it difficult to adjust in the workplace because of their personality disorder, should either be terminated or suppressed through effective strategies (Cullinane & Dundon, 2014).

The unitarists have influenced the emergence of different schools of thoughts (Neesham & Cox, 2013).

Taylor’s theory of scientific management (1974) holds the view that the employees are not mature in their ways of work and they have limited aspirations. The management team should formulate effective policies to address these issues and maintain an environment where the employees take their work seriously and deliver their duties properly. The managers should be rational and they should exercise rationalism in the recruitment of employees and give them proper directions so that a peace can be maintained in the workplace. Moreover, the employees should adequate steps to make the employees understand their task properly. The employees have to be treated collectively and not be targeted personally by the managers. Thus, under this theory, the managers are in a superior position and they should be capable enough to direct the workers for performing their tasks properly in a workplace (Shafritz et al., 2015).

Human relation theory holds the view that the employees should be given an opportunity to have a say in the ways they are being governed. It has to be ensured that employees derive personal satisfaction from their works and they should be involved in the management process (Goldman, 2015).

Human resource management theory holds the view that the organisations goals can be achieved by effective cooperation between the employees and managers. The forces which unify the managers and employees are far stronger than the forces which divide them. The management team should take steps for promoting these forces and help to maintain and unity among the managers and the employees. For attaining these purposes, it is important to keep the line of communication open between the employees and managers (Mondy & Martocchio, 2016). 

Pluralism

Unlike the unitarists, the pluralists believe that conflict in workplace is unavoidable. Under an organisation, there are different groups who have different interests and objectives. The values and interests of the managers and employees differ and a result the emergence of conflict is inevitable. The pluralists believe that the employees should be allowed to exercise their rights through forming trade unions and collectively bargain with the managers so that the best results can be produced. According to pluralism, the employees should not be deprived of their rights and they should be heard in the process of formulating strategies in an organisation. Pluralism has given rise to the one of the most renowned theory known as the Systems theory.

The systems theory was developed by Dunlop. According to this theory, the industrial relations fall within the purview of the wider social system. A whole lot of formal and informal rules and regulations influence the work in an organisation. These include performance, holidays, recruitment, hours of work, wages, etc. The employees and managers should both play a significant role in the process of negotiation and resolution of conflicts in an organisation (Koffarnus et al., 2013).

Another important theory relating to industrial relations is the Marxist theory. This theory was developed by Karl Marx. According to him the means of production and wealth are not equally distributed among the society. This has led to the emergence of two different classes of people- the capitalists (bourgeoisie) who are the owner of the means of production and the workers (proletariat) who give their labours and hard work for producing goods. The capitalists have a tendency to exploit the workers and therefore a class struggle continues to exist. Thus, the conflict in workplace is a natural outcome of capitalism (Lichtheim, 2015).

The employment law in New Zealand has seen rapid changes within short periods of time. The history and development of employment law can be divided into these phases- 1840-1894, 1894-to pre-world war 1, post-world war 2-1851, 1960-1980, 1991-2000 and post 2000.

During the period from 1840 to 1894, the employment relations in New Zealand was governed by the common law, the Masters and Servant Act 1823 (UK) and the law relating to criminal conspiracy for industrial disputes (Moore, 2014).

The employee organisation before the 1870s were few. Whenever a conflict arose between the employees and the managers, the employees used to follow the same tactics which were prevalent in Britain. Boycotts, marches and petition were common among the employees. Many employees also used to leave jobs looking for better pay and better conditions of work. From the midst 1870s, employees started to hold strikes. But the courts did not support such move of the employees. Under the common law applied by the courts, unions were viewed as unlawful conspiracies. Thus, interests of the employers were protected in those days.

Systems theory

Reform was necessary in the existing system for maintaining peace in the organisations. Pressures were exerted to increase industrialisation, to support increased migration, trade union and organised political labour movement. New legislation were introduced such as Employment of Females Act 1873, the Factories Act 1894, Shops and Shop Assistants Act, 1894 and the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894 (Scott, 2014).

The Employment of Females Act, 1873 laid down provisions relating to the hours of work, sanitation, holidays etc. for the women. It reduced the maximum hours of work in a day to 8 hours and prohibited females to work at night. But the act was not enforced properly (Eriksson & Stanfors, 2013). The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1894 encouraged the formation of industrial unions. 


Thus, the employment law in New Zealand up to the First World War was not that much strong or efficient. The employees in those days had a little protection under the legal framework. The scenario in New Zealand before the First World War could be explained by the theory of Marxism. The capitalists exploited the workers and the period saw a constant struggle between the capitalists on the hand and the workers on the other hand.

In the post-world war 1 period during 1930-193, there was an economic crash and around 13% of the male workers lost their jobs. The unions had lost their members and became uninfluential. By 1933 most of the union became inactive and they collapsed. In 1935, a new labour government gave a new beginning to the labour unions. The New Zealand Federation of Labour was established and it ensured minimum living wages to all the employees. It directly entered into negotiations with the governments and ensured that all the employees were given basic minimum wages.

In the post-world war 2 period, the unions became stronger and they kept putting pressure on the government for guaranteeing them better conditions of work. The strikes conducted by workers maximised during the 1960s and 1970s. There was high inflation during that period but the wages of the workers were not increased. Therefore, the period saw the maximum number of industrial disputes (Krawczyk & Townsend, 2015).

The post-world war 1 period and the period of post-world war 2 have actually followed the theory of unitarism. The managers have tried their best to engage the workers and keep them intact in an organisation through various policies and strategies. But, there was a failure of management due to factors such as economic crash, inflation and therefore the struggle continued between the employers and the employees.

Marxist theory

In the twentieth century, some key legislations were enacted to regulate the working conditions. Such legislations are Labour Relations Act 1987, Employment Contract Act 1991 and the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Labour Relations Act of 1987 was brought by the fourth Labour Government. This Act made the right to strike a statutory right and the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Courts were also increased. The Employments Contract Act, 1991 promoted an efficient labour market system and gave the workers the right to associate with each other and gave freedom to the employees about who should represent them in matters related to issues of employment. The employees were also given rights to negotiate with the employers regarding their individual contracts (Kelsey, 2015).

The Employment Relations Act of 2000 took a more balanced approach and emphasised on building a productive relationships among the employers and the employees through mutual trust and confidence (Riley, 2013).

Thus, the recent times saw the application of the theory of pluralism in formulating the employment law where the interests of the employees have been taken into account. The rights of the employees have been recognised and they have been given an opportunity to participate in the decision making process in an organisation.

According to the provision laid down under Section 6 of the Employment Relationship Act, 2000, an employee is a person who does any work for a reward or on hire under a contract of service. An employee includes a homemaker or a person who intends to work. An employee does not include a volunteer who has no expectation to be rewarded for the work to be done as a volunteer and it also does not include a volunteer who does not get rewarded for the work already performed as a volunteer. An employee also does not include a person who acts as an actor, stunt performer, musician, singer, entertainer, dancer, etc. or works in any other capacity in relation to a film production. 


Under the common law, the main tests to determine whether an employment relationship exists or not are the control test, intention of the parties test, independence test, control test, fundamental test and integration test.

Under the control test, it is seen to what extent the employee or the principal controls the manner in which the work is done. If the level or degree of control is high, then it may be concluded that there exists and employment relationship (Furrowet al., 2014). 

History and development of employment law in New Zealand

Under the intention of the parties test, the factor which is looked into to determine whether an employment relationship exists or not is the intention of the parties as to the nature of their relationship (Walsh, 2015).

Under the independence test, it is seen whether the person performs the work independently or not. If it is seen that the person is highly independent and totally works on his own, then it may be assumed that the person is not an employee but an independent contractor.

Under the fundamental test, it is seen whether the person who performs the work does so on his own account or not. If it is found that the person works on his own account, then it is most likely that the person is not an employee but an independent contractor (Twomey, 2012).

Under the integration test, it is seen whether the person who performs the work is integrated into the business or not. If it is found that the person is integrated into the business, then it is assumed that the person is not an independent contractor but an employee (Kruppe et al., 2013).

As far as the definition of an employee under Section 6 of the Employment Contract Act, 2000 is concerned, the Supreme Court of New Zealand made the observations that the section changed the tests for the purpose of determining whether an employment relationship exists or not.  According to the Court, the real nature of the relationship between the parties should be determined; the intention of the parties is an important factor to be considered but it is not the decisive factor; the nature of relationship between the parties is not decided by the statements made by the parties and the real nature of the relationship existing between the parties must be ascertained by applying the fundamental, control and integration test (Bogg et al., 2013). 


In the case of Bryson v Three Foot Six Ltd [2005], the Supreme Court of New Zealand determined whether the concerned person is an independent contractor or an employee. The issue of this case was whether the Court of employment made a mistake in considering that Bryson was an employee of three foot six ltd. Bryson, was a model maker for the past twenty years. In the year 2000, he was given a temporary position at three foot six, though after two weeks of his employment he was given a permanent position. He was not provided with any written agreement for the same. In the year 2001, the independent contractors were dismissed including Bryson. Bryson called his dismissal as unjust. In the preliminary decision, Bryson was found to be a contractor. The matter was again heard in the Employment Court where Bryson was held be an employee. The Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Employment Court by declaring Bryson as contractor. Bryson appealed in the Supreme Court against the decision of the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court held that the Employment Court made no mistake in holding Bryson as an employee (Walker & Tipples, 2013).

In the case of TNT Worldwide Express Ltd v Cunningham [1993], the issue of whether a person is an employee or a contractor was considered. Cunningham was a courier driver. He brought a grievance for dismissal that was unjustified. However, the Court can entertain such a grievance only if he was given the position of an employee instead of a contractor. Cunningham had a written employment contract with TNT. As per the terms of the contract, he was given the position of an independent contractor. The contract seemed to be ambiguous, as the job responsibilities of Cunningham seemed to be more of an employee than a contractor. In this case, the Court held Cunningham to be a contractor and not an employee. In general cases of ambiguity where the Court fails to make any distinction between a contractor and an employee, a person is held to be an employee. However, a person needs to provide proof that he was hired as an independent contractor but subsequently his position changed to an employee. Since Cunningham failed to establish this relationship, he was considered as an independent contractor (Anderson, 2016). 

References:

Cullinane, N., & Dundon, T. (2014). Unitarism and employer resistance to trade unionism. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(18), 2573-2590.

Shafritz, J. M., Ott, J. S., & Jang, Y. S. (2015). Classics of organization theory. Cengage Learning.

Mondy, R., & Martocchio, J. J. (2016). Human resource management. Pearson.

Koffarnus, M. N., Jarmolowicz, D. P., Mueller, E. T., & Bickel, W. K. (2013). Changing delay discounting in the light of the competing neurobehavioral decision systems theory: a review. Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior, 99(1), 32-57.

Lichtheim, G. (2015). Marxism (RLE Marxism): An Historical and Critical Study. Routledge.

Moore, S. (2014). Gender and Class Formation: Women's Mobilization in the Industrialization of the Bradford Worsted Industry, 1780-1845. Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, (35), 1-31.

Scott, J. (2014). Mechanisms for resolving collective bargaining disputes in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online), 39(2), 62.

Eriksson, B., & Stanfors, M. (2013). The employment of women and firm survival.

Krawczyk, J. B., & Townsend, W. (2015). New Zealand inequality and the struggle between capital and labour.

Kelsey, J. (2015). The New Zealand experiment: A world model for structural adjustment?. Bridget Williams Books.

Walker, B., & Tipples, R. (2013). Hobbit Affair: A New Frontier for Unions, The. Adel. L. Rev., 34, 65.

Anderson, G. (2016). The Common Law and the Reconstruction of Employment Relationships in New Zealand. International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, 32(1), 93-116.
Furrow, B., Greaney, T., Johnson, S., Jost, T., & Schwartz, R. (2014). Health law. West Academic.

Walsh, D. J. (2015). Employment law for human resource practice. Nelson Education.

Kruppe, T., Rogowski, R., & Schömann, K. (2013). Labour market efficiency in the European Union: Employment protection and fixed term contracts. Routledge.

Kruppe, T., Rogowski, R., & Schömann, K. (2013). Labour market efficiency in the European Union: Employment protection and fixed term contracts. Routledge.

Twomey, D. (2012). Labor and Employment Law: Text & Cases. Cengage Learning.

Bogg, A., Forsyth, A., & Novitz, T. (2013). Worker voice in Australia and New Zealand: The role of the state reconfigured. Adel. L. Rev., 34, 1.

Neesham, C., & Cox, J. W. (2013, January). From Alignment to Exchange: Human Resource Management after Unitarism. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2013, No. 1, p. 12127). Academy of Management.

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