The employees of an organization are entitled by the state legislation to assist, create, join and enjoy rights that are directed towards their well being and grievance redressal. The process of collective bargaining by representation therefore needs to be used by the employees. This has gained importance as organizations consider their workers as the most valuable resources which further develop goods and services by applying their skills and talents. Labour unions have been found to have a deep effect on the operation of the organisation. More often than not relationships between the organisation and the employees turn sour aiming towards conflicting situations. In this report with reference to the case study organization Ellard Williams and its current relationship, some important aspects have been described for addressing issues between management and unions.
1) Impact of unions on the organizational operations
The labor forces which are under the influence of unions resort to collective bargaining on the foundation of demonstration. This facilitates perfect representation of the workforce to ward off unfair practices to them. This results in a secure an amiable working atmosphere which in turn ensures them a means of livelihood. The welfare of the workforce and maintenance of work-life security are the key aspects that need to be the focus of the organizations. It has been observed that the organizations have been pressurized by the unions to raise the employee remuneration and quite often such a practice becomes binding on the enterprises to incorporate modifications in the pay structure irrespective of the variations in the business profits. In some situations, even when the organization could provide a fair amount of remuneration, the workforce has been deliberately kept underpaid on various pretexts (Yates & Fairbrother, 2013, pp. 15-45). In such cases, a protective shield that ensures fair treatment by the organizations is provided to the employees by the unions. In order to maintain a motivated and positive workforce within the organization, it is important that the business targets are achieved by an appropriate level of organizational governance and operational efficiency. Additionally, it is mandatory for them to work in compliance with the industry statutes and standards. On the basis of collective bargaining, the employees of the organization, even when paid more are not all the time willing to enhance the level of performance. The collective bargaining agreements often induce the organizations to offer inflated plans of pension to the members of the workforce. These situations lead to the incurrence of additional expenses by the organization resulting in an enhanced compensation much higher than the standards set by the industry. The business costs get inflated because of the incorporation of the incremental benefit plans to the employees. Even during the economic recession, the business under the influence of the unions fails to cut down the workforce and maintain the same volume of employees (Aronowitz, 2014). Thus, even on the face of low sales and profit margins, the organizations end up retaining the same number of employees. In circumstances when the employees are given benefits and recognition in the form of high salaries and special amenities, there is a constant pressure on the workforce to remain unionized. In cases of a competitively advantageous organization, the aspect of unionization of the workforce hinders the economic aspects and the firm finds it difficult to maintain the advantageous position in the market competition (Yates & Fairbrother, 2013, pp. 15-45).
2) Causes of challenges and conflicts in management/labour relations
An employer-employee relationship if confronted with challenges, then it is most likely that a conflict like the situation is about to get developed. There could be many causes of such a conflict. These are in the form of pressure of unionization, policies relating to layoff and unbending attitude of employers and unions. Some general causes of conflicts are resentment from salary, the unwillingness of workers to cooperate with their employers, long and hectic working session etc. When organizational profits are inadequate then firms are not in a situation for paying huge salaries to their staffs (Edelstein, 2017). A problem like job redundancy is also another factor that compels them to reduce the number of workers. Over this cause, the conflict arises, and if the employees are not cooperative then the situation goes out of control (Webster, 2014). If safety concerns are not met by the firms then dissatisfaction follows and firms and their workers get into a tussle. Another cause of conflict is working during the break time or reduction of a number of leaves for employees when absenteeism is higher. This is kind of an effort to compensate work supposedly hampered by other’s absenteeism. Statutory benefits like leave during the period of paternity and maternity if not provided by the firms, then conflicts become unavoidable. Pressure from employee or unions to bring firms under the scope of union often creates a conflicting situation. It often becomes necessary from workers’ point of thought to stay under the purview of unions while firms are always reluctant fearing a backlash from the unionized workforce (Forth et al, 2013).
3) Recommendations for the promotion of conducive and positive relations between the management and the unions
It is very usual that the relationship between employers and employees are not always cordial. When unions take the lead among them the situation becomes difficult. If a relationship needs to be improved among them then it is highly vital that collaboration and shared visions are practiced. They need to work on consideration for each other’s better aspects like protection of interest and development of better relationship (Markovits et al, 2016).
Business values become higher and motivation among employers and the employees remain productive as long as there is mutual respect for each other. Both the union and the employer must work hand-in-hand to ensure that the resources and the environment of work provided by the latter are used judiciously by the employees with the interference of the former so that a heightened governance and amiable working atmosphere leads the company towards profitability and welfare of the workers (Hayek, 2014). With better respect and reciprocal mind towards each other, firms can be sure of a better relationship with unions and employees.
Stable and regular fruitful communications between the management and the union are significant. This creates a conflict-free environment and both unions and employers can help each other when a better resolution come out from communication among them. The difficult situation may be avoided by firms when both put forward their advice regarding a situational exigency from the business’s perspective.
Firms by practicing a common set of behaviors for protecting their staffs can enhance the possibility of better relations. This leads to trust generation among them and business moves to profitability.
With perfect teamwork, both the unions and the employers can augment better relationships. Both firms and unions may create a better bonding among them if strategies are jointly developed. With this practice, better results are most likely to prevail (Jones, Burke & Westman, 2013).
If a firm could develop an amicable relationship with its employees then a most advantageous position gets developed. Similarly, if unions and employers are in a good relationship, it becomes easier for firms to ensure a better position in the industry. Causes of conflict could be different in forms and may prevail in an industrial setting. These could be salary related dissatisfaction, poor conditions of working and unsuitable terms that govern employment. Firms often feel the pressure of unions and this hampers the productivity and profit margin because firms even are not much in profitable positions needs to pay a higher amount of salaries and payments. During a poor financial situation like the financial crisis, this problem becomes higher. There is a possible solution to the problem and this is collaboration among both employers and unions working on shared targets to develop workers’ favorable conditions and profitability of the business.
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Edelstein, J. D. (2017). Comparative union democracy: Organization and opposition in British and American unions. Routledge.
Forth, J., Kersley, B. E., Lardies, C. A., Bryson, A., Bewley, H., Dix, G., & Oxenbridge, S. (2013). Inside the workplace: findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. Routledge.
Hayek, F. A. (2014). The constitution of liberty. Routledge.
Jones, F., Burke, R. J., & Westman, M. (Eds.). (2013). Work-life balance: A psychological perspective. Psychology Press.
Markovits, A., Gourevitch, P., Ross, G., Martin, A., Bornstein, S., & Allen, C. (2016). Unions and Economic Crisis: Britain, West Germany, and Sweden. Routledge.
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Yates, C. A., & Fairbrother, P. (2013). Unions in crisis, unions in renewal?. In Trade Unions in Renewal (pp. 15-45). Routledge.