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OBJECTIVES OF IR Understand the key strategic issues in industrial relations. Explain the unitary, pluralist and radical approaches to industrial relations. Appreciate the role of employers, trade unions and governments in industrial relations. Understand individual and collective bargaining, conciliation and arbitration.

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INTRODUCTION Continuing work environment issues are creating pressures for more industrial relations reform. Higher productivity translates into higher wages, better jobs and improved job security. While all parties agree that reform is inevitable, the problem is in obtaining consensus.

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INTRODUCTION The way people view the challenges of reform is in large part influenced by their perspective on industrial relations.

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APPROACHES TO INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS IR involves employee and their unions, employers and their associations and governments and industrial tribunals that make regulations governing the employment relationship.


NATURE OF IR Focus Strategic & integrated managerial approach to the management of people HRM support for achieving business aims and objectives Mechanisms Individualism (human relations, organisational psychology) Integrating planning, monitoring and control of human resources (not just employees) Securing employee commitment or organisation’s aims & objectives (performance based rewards, employee involvement)

Approaches to industrial relations : 

Approaches to industrial relations Wider approaches to industrial relations Approaches to industrial relations

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UNITARIST APPROACH Industrial relations is grounded in mutual cooperation, individual treatment, teamwork and the sharingof common objectives. The underlying assumption is that it is to the benefit of all to focus on common interests and promote harmony. Conflict is regarded as destructive.

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PLURALIST APPROACH Regards conflict as inevitable because employers and employees have conflicting interests. Trade unions are seen as legitimate representatives of employee interests. Sees stability in industrial relations as the product of concessions and compromises between management and unions.

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RADICAL OR MARXIST APPROACH Marxists, like the pluralists, regard conflict between management and employees as inevitable. Sees industrial conflict as an aspectof class conflict. The solution to worker alienation and exploitation is the overthrow of the capitalist system.

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HRM AND IR HRM presents a direct challenge to traditional IR centred on conflict inevitability, government intervention and employee representation. Considerable opposition to HRM.

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THEORY, HRM AND IR HRM contributes in: theory and research on management as an initiator of change - more acceptable frameworks for understanding enterprise-level relations – vs centralised rewards frameworks for understanding direct and informal management vs indirect/formal ie. Employee Relations

Union View of HRM : 

Union View of HRM Apologist for unreasonable DDs & “consultant speak”: Unemployment high while hrs of work up f/t workers 30% over 50hrs/wk; p/t workers want more hrs; top managers want fewer Unpredictable, irregular and insecure hrs: 25% of workers casual (more women) Intensification of work: harder/longer therefore: stress, fatigue, QoWL down Breakdown between hrs and earnings: annualization of salaries and unpaid O’Time

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PARTIES IN INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS Three major parties: government, employerassociations and trade unions.

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GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNALS Industrial tribunal: Government tribunals charged with preventing and settling industrial disputes. The AIRC is Australia’s most important industrial tribunal.

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EMPLOYER ASSOCIATIONS Employer associations represent employer interests before industrial tribunals and provide a range of IR advisory services including award interpretation, dispute handling and how to counter union activity.

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TRADE UNIONS Formal organisations that represent individuals employed in an organisation, throughout an industryor occupation. Adopt an approach of strategic unionism. Unions seek to negotiate above-award concessions from employers. Some unions see enterprise bargaining as being limited to just that.

The Past – IR vs The Future - HRM : 

The Past – IR vs The Future - HRM Read fig. 12.3 for more on this change in focus

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INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS PROCESS Collective bargaining Consent awards Arbitrated awards

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CHOICE OF PROCESSES Workplace-level grievances Listen carefully Have all of the relevant facts Avoid lengthy delays The union may have to argue a case it does not genuinely support Tribunal-level grievances When the issue cannot be resolved at the workplace

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ADVOCACY Employer or union representatives who argue a case before an industrial tribunal or court Courts are concerned with justice. Industrial tribunals are pragmatic institutions concerned with finding workable solutions to industrial disputes.

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THE WORKPLACE RELATIONS ACT Gives primary responsibility for industrial relations and agreement making to employers and employees Focus the role of the award system Ensure freedom of association Avoid discrimination Assist employees to have work /life balance Assist in giving effect to Australia’s international obligations in respect of labour standards.

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ALLOWABLE MATTERS These are provisions allowed to remain in awards by the Workplace Relations Act. No other items can be covered in an award. In 1999 the Australian Government introduced the Workplace Legislation Amendment (More Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 1999

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SUMMARY The changing nature of global markets and the need to become more customer-driven have forced a critical re-examination of the way industrial relations is handled in Australia. Radical, pluralist and unitary approaches (in one form or another) all have their supporters.

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SUMMARY The traditional roles and dominance of government, employer associations and union are being challenged – their place in the industrial relations arena is no longer guaranteed. As a consequence, the IR agenda in the years ahead appears likely to be dominated by both change and controversy.

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