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Some firms have a department of industrial relations quite separate from other aspects of human resource management and its main functions consist of: • prevention and settlement of trade disputes; • helping to form and maintain machinery of joint consultation; • keeping in close touch with the state of employer-employee relations; • advising the firm or the government on industrial relations problems (Green, 1994) The main benefit of unions is that disputes may be settled by negotiation, conciliation, arbitration, investigation and formal enquiry.
Each union regulations must be known by the human resources officer.
Disadvantages Disadvantages of unions can be explained by the fact that workpeople and organizations have different inter¬ests.
Whether or not the purpose of an organization is to make a profit, employ¬ers are continually under pressure to ensure that resources are fully utilized and labour costs are stabilized or reduced.
“Union workers are more likely than their non-union counterparts to receive health care and pension benefits.
Nine out of ten union members are covered by health insurance and have a pension plan — versus three-quarters of those not in a union” (Union strength, n.d).It is important that these agreements should be continually reviewed This process can bring management and unions together in a partnership that exists to develop a fair and equitable pay structure on the basis of mutual agreement.Some managements and some unionists may find it dif¬ficult to act together in this way, but when they do, the results are beneficial to all concerned (Emmott et al 2002).Employees need to have a thorough knowledge of proce¬dures of consultation and negotiation and the function of consultative bodies.Loss of output through industrial dispute can be costly to an organization and the proportion of strikes which occur without union support should be reduced.There is also the idea to institute structural changes to reduce the amount of supervision a worker is subjected to and give him greater control over his own job.There is, of course, no guar¬antee that all workers will have higher morale and productivity, and some¬times output may fall if workers do not think an increase in productivity is in their interest (the goals of management and worker often differ).Within unions mutual respect and confidence are needed and there should be a democratically elected commit¬tee representing all ranks, but not necessarily one person from each depart¬ment. Examples are holidays, welfare, discipline, recruitment, training.There should also be good secretarial arrangements and a system for reporting back to employees. Most of these are affiliated to the voluntary body called the Trades Union, which has as its objects ‘to promote the interests of all its affiliated organizations and generally to improve the social and economic conditions of the workers’ (Beardwell et al 1994). There are craft unions, industrial and general workers’ unions, also those for non-manual and professional groups.