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Labor Management Relations: Trade Unions

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Discusss about the Labor Management Relations for Trade Unions.



In the contemporary organizations where employees have involved actively, Labor-Management Relations is very complicated tasks and responsibility to be handled by the HR department. Efficient maintenance of the issues emerging in labor relations management by HR is paramount for the development and sustenance of harmonious environment in the company which helps it attain the set goals and objectives. Further, when the issues are well managed the organization stands to gain a competitive advantage due to labour management related conflicts. Labor management relations also referred to as the industrial relation focuses on the management and the worker's relationship in the workplace (Knights & Willmott, 2016).

The industrial relations landscape in the country is defined by the tripartite associations between the various players namely the employees, government, trade unions, and employers. The players have shown a lot of collaboration in their approach industrial relations. The outcomes of this relationship have been accredited to a range of economic success and significant social progress (Fossum, 2014; Tremewan, 2016). In the wake of the financial crisis in the last decade, Singapore made necessary steps toward the growth of employment level between 2009 and 2011. Therefore, the country ranks as one of the best and most competitive due to the nature of cooperation between the key players.  Industrial relations deals with all the aspects that touch on the industrial life (Fraile, 2016).

According to Kaufman & Routledge, labour management issues are related to trade unions, collective bargaining, grievance and discipline handling, employee roles in the management, industrial disputes and the interpretation of labor laws to the workers and other related parties. The collective bargaining forms a central part of industrial relations. Besides it aims at reaching an agreement between the management and employees in a particular company. The primary focus is the wages and remuneration issues, promotions, working hours, benefits and the terms of employment (Kaufman, Beaumont, & Helfgott, Routledge.).


Key Players Labor-Management Relations

There are various players in the labor management system, and these includes the employers, employees, and government and trade unions. The parties are actively involved in the process, and their scope is very broad as it touches on various issues such as collective bargaining, dealing with industrial disputes, standing orders, and unfair labor practices and workers participation in the process of management. The section explores the key roles played by these actors in the process of labour relations management (Ackers, 2014).

Roles of Employees in Labour Relations Management

An employee in the organization has various responsibilities in labor relations management. The employer pay payment and the trade unions and government protect them. Therefore, the role of employees includes acting ethically in exchange for the remuneration and protections. Their key roles include safety, punctuality, integrity confidentiality, and objectivity. Employees should show predictable attendance, behave ethically by dealing properly with the customers and clients, observe the required practices and provide good quality works and support to colleagues. In some cases, they are supposed to engage the management in collective bargaining (Kaufman, Beaumont, & Helfgott, Routledge.).


Roles of Trade Unions

The role played by trade unionism is vital for the interaction in the company between workers and the management. Both adheres to the system, practices, and principles as set by the trades unions, and this may be different between countries although there are some similarities. These trade unions membership consists of different people whose common agenda and the objectives is to promote and protect the interests of employers and the employees (Brown, 2015). Cases of the industrial dispute are brought by the emerging or unresolved difference between the government and employment or with the management over appropriate employment terms and conditions. These includes the remuneration benefits, working condition and hiring, and retention of employees in the workplace (Hyman & Price, 2016).

In the organizations where the trades union are well recognized in the workplace, they engage in officials roles where they conduct negotiations with HRM on behalf of employees. They involve in issues of collective bargaining, employee welfare, legislation and any unfair practices that may exist in the organization (Hyman & Price, 2016). In these areas, the scope of engagement with the employers includes representation of workers in the industries through negotiations with the team because of their strength because they comprise the group of employees who has a greater voice than individual employees. In advocating for employees welfare, the unions have been successful regarding asserting for better terms and conditions for the workers, and this helps in securing different benefits. These includes higher wages, protection from arbitrary action, reasonable work schedules, work-life balance and job security for all the affiliated employers (Cheng, 2016).

Role of Employers in Labour Relations Management

Concerning labour management issues, the employers have certain inalienable rights. For instance, they have the recruit and layoff the employees (Brown, 2015).  Besides, the management also has the rights to exercise their rights such as transfers, merge or close the company and to make changes to the technology used and other innovations. The exercise of management’s rights certainly interferes with the rights of employees and this may lead to complaints and eventually this degenerate to conflict. On the contrary, the employers also has an interest in how the employees work and try to enhance the working conditions and review the terms and condition of employment based on environmental changes which were not factored in the time of hiring. Further, the management tries to engage the workers and enhance their participation in the decision-making process which largely rests in the hands of the senior employees in the firm (Carluccio, Fougère, & Gautier, 2015).

Role of Governments in Labour Relations Management

The Governments of different countries plays a significant role in labour relations management in the enterprise. The officials try to regulate and influence industrial relations through enacted legislations and various policies and agreements. Labor-management relations is traced from the 19th century, and their emergence is linked to the rise of industrialization in North America and Europe. By the time, the employee was harshly treated and had no rights, and therefore the trade unions brought large workforces. Since then, many conditions has led to its evolution in the century.

The changes are due to the significant shift in social, economic and the major political changes in different countries and therefore their operation and other activities have changed (Flavin & Hartney, 2015). Initially, labor-management relations featured all interactions between employers and employees. For example, in their early years, their roles were confined to human resource, union, and employee’s relations management and this represented a broad scope as compared to today. However, nowadays, the range and the meaning has evolved and assumed a narrow focus and the area of restriction is the employee-employer relations (Brown, 2015). 


Singapore Competitiveness in LRM

Singapore competitiveness in LRM can be measured regarding wages, protection, and workplace benefits. The issues will be looked in reflection to the harmonious relationship between employees, trade unions, government and employers and how it has helped improve productivity. Tripartism is defined as the collaboration among employers, unions, employees and government in Singapore. In the paper, it is considered as a key competitive advantage for the Singapore on matters related to labor relations management. Tripartism in Singapore has been the principal source of economic and productivity in the workplace competitiveness (Fossum, 2014). Besides, it has been at the center of promoting and enhancing the level of harmony between the labor-management relations, and this has made a significant to the overall progress of the country. In the country, the key tripartite issues includes job re-creation, retirement age, training and development and upgrading of the workforce. Others are fair and flexible wages for employees. The tripartite partners include the Ministry of human resources, trade unions bodies, and the employer’s federation (Sheldon, Gan, & Morgan, 2015).

The association between these bodies play a huge role in the reducing the number of strikes and increasing the level of productivity. The Ministry of Manpower, for example, formulate and implement the national labour policies with the aim of making Singapore a globally competitive through the creation of harmonious workplace and brighter economic future for the citizens (Fashoyin, 2010; Tremewan, 2016). The National Trades Union Congress roles are to help the country stay competitive. As such, the tripartite between the bodies is important because it has increased the country competitiveness by making the individuals and groups remain employable, reduce the number of strikes and industrial actions and to build a caring labour movement. Further all the employees irrespective of the age and other affiliations remain in the workforce, and this increases the competitiveness of Singapore (Brown, 2015).

Also essential to the understanding of the competitive analysis of Singapore is the Singapore National Employers Federation. The body was formed in 1980, and its role is to increase the industrial harmony and to enhance the excellence of the employees and the practices in the workplace. These actions have made the country competitive because of high productivity of employees and the quality of their output. Regarding national wages, the Government of Singapore has accepted the proposals made by the National Wages Council for the year 2016/2017 (Yah, 2011).

The issues highlighted includes remuneration restructuring and an increase in productivity due to expected local employment growth. To make the organization competitive, the government is in support of productivity to ensure sustainable wage growth and further boost Singapore’s competitiveness. This also includes the increase of payments for all the low-wage workers, funding for skills and improving their Workfare through training (Yah, 2011). In the end, the trade unions in the country have managed to push for the increase of productivity, skills, and wages with 4%. The tripartite relationship has led the resolution of the industrial dispute in the workforce, a guarantee of sick, death, family care and sick leaves. The issues make the country reasonably competitive in the international arena (Tremewan, 2016; Yah, 2011).



In conclusion, labour relations management in Singapore is characterized by a tripartite relationship between government, trade unions, and management which help come up with a harmonious relationship in the workplace. Each of the parties plays a beneficial and significant role such as collective bargaining, wages, leaves, solving disputes and formulation of diverse legislations and policies. The level of association has been instrumental in the increase of wage, the growth of productivity and development of skills that to boost organization sustenance. For instance, in the country, the wages rose by 4 %, and the trade unions have managed to resolve many industrial disputes and to realize the increase in overall productivity in the workplace. These aspects in make Singapore competitive and experience reduced industrial actions as compared to the recent decades.



Ackers, P. (2014). Rethinking the employment relationship: a neo-pluralist critique of British industrial relations orthodoxy. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(18), 2608-2625.

Brown, W. (2015). Trade unions at the workplace. Industrial Relations Journal, 46(1), 7-11.

Carluccio, J., Fougère, D., & Gautier, E. (2015). Trade, Wages and Collective Bargaining: Evidence from France. The Economic Journal, 125(584), 803-837.

Cheng, L. (2016). Organized Labor and Debt Contracting: Firm-Level Evidence from Collective Bargaining. The Accounting Review.

Fashoyin, T. ( 2010). Tripartite cooperation, labour market reform and economic upturn in Singapore. ‎Geneva: International Labour Organization.

Flavin, P., & Hartney, M. (2015). When government subsidizes its own: Collective bargaining laws as agents of political mobilization. American Journal of Political Science, 59(4), 896-911.

Fossum, J. (2014). Labor relations. New York City: Mcgraw Hill Higher Education.

Fraile, L. ( 2016). Blunting neoliberalism: tripartism and economic reforms in the developing world. New York City, NY: Springer.

Hyman, R., & Price, R. (2016). The New Working Class?: White-Collar Workers and their Organizations-A Reader. New York City, NY: Springer.

Kaufman, B., Beaumont, R., & Helfgott, R. (Routledge.). Industrial Relations to Human Resources and Beyond: The Evolving Process of Employee Relations Management: The Evolving Process of Employee Relations Management. London : Routledge.

Knights, D., & Willmott, H. (2016). Labour process theory (eds ed.). New York City, NY: Springer.

Sheldon, P., Gan, B., & Morgan, D. (2015). Making Singapore's tripartism work (faster): the formation of the Singapore National Employers' Federation in 1980. Business History, 57(3), 438-460.

Tremewan, C. (2016). The political economy of social control in Singapore. New York City, NY: Springer.

Yah, L. (2011). The National Wages Council (NWC) and macroeconomic management in Singapore. Crisis Management and Public Policy: Singapore's Approach to Economic Resilience.


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