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Employee Relations



Employee relations

Table of Contents
Introduction............................................................................................................ 2
TASK 1................................................................................................................ 3
1.2 Assess how changes in trade unionism have affected employee relations............4
1.3 Explain the role of main players in employee relations................................5
Role of employer-employee................................................................................ 5
Trade unions and representatives.......................................................................6
Role of GOVERNMENT in employment relations..................................................6
Task 2................................................................................................................... 7
2.1 Explain the procedures on organisation should follow when dealing with different conflict
situations............................................................................................................... 7
2.2 Explain the key features of employee relations in a selected conflict
situation............................................................................................................. 9
2.3 Evaluate the effectiveness of procedure used in a selected conflict
situation........................................................................................................... 10
Task 3............................................................................................................... 11
3.1 Explain the role of negotiation in collective bargaining................................................11
Task4................................................................................................................ 12
4.1 Assess the influence of the EU on industrial democracy in the UK.............12
4.2 Compare methods used to gain employee participation and involvement in
the decision making process in organisations..................................................13
4.3 Assess the impact of human resource management on employee relations.
......................................................................................................................... 13
References........................................................................................................ 15

Employee relations

relations between an employer and an employee and are controlled by legislations which are
being revised and updated continuously (lecturer notes).
For my Employee Relations assignment I did precede my work research upon BA Company,
Mark&Spencer, Unison and NHS UK Company.
In order to give answers for my given tasks, I have applied my work as following:
Task 1: Understand the context of employee relations against a changing background.
Task 2: Understand the nature of industrial conflict and its resolution.
Task 3: Understand collective bargaining and negotiation processes.
Task 4: Understand the concept of employee participation and involvement.
I hope I fulfilled all the requirements in order to give accurate answers for the given tasks.

Employee relations

According to Gennrard and Judge(2002) the ``employee relations is a study of roles,
regulations and agreements by which employees are managed both as individuals and as
collective relationship varying from company to company depending upon the values of
As such it is concerned with how to gain peoples commitment to the achievement of an
organization`s business goals and objectives in a number of different situations. ``
According to Fox (1966) the term ``frame of reference` `has been used in order that we
can enable an understanding of the nature of a perspective. There are two main types of
frame of references.
These are unitarism and pluralism.

Unitarism is what organizations call ``team`` or ``one big family``. This perspective
perceives the employing organizations as having individuals and groups with common
values, objectives and interests. Therefore, the conflicts between management and labour
are unnecessary and avoidable. It is also considered that the employees do not need a
trade union to be represented by managements as it will create circumstances at work in
order to reinforce the message.
On the other hand, the surveys conducted by Edwards shows that managers and
employees sees the organization as a unitary, but if managers and workers are totally
opposed to each other, workplace relations will simply break down ( Edwards, 2014).

Employee relations

The second frame of reference is the pluralism. This perspective considers that the
employing organization is constructed by individuals or groups who have different
values, objectives and interests. There is a shared loyalty. Conflicts are common between
employees and management functions. If for unitarism the management will provide
confidence and a good work environment, in pluralism the management can be
confronted by a workforce that for instance will not accept its rights to manage. Its role is
to manage conflicts via mechanisms which emphasize the achievement of consensus
(Employee Relations, Mike Leat 2011).
Mark and Spenceris perceived to be adopting a unitarist frame of reference.
The HRM has an essential role and it is aligned to the business objectives and strategies.
In order to deal with employees needs and expectations, M&S has hired a consultancy
company called Business Involvement Group (HRM in M&S).
M&S refuses to recognize any trade union as they follow a paternalistic approach with its
employees. They also have strong internal HRM policies in order to ensure that
employee`s goals and grievances are taken care of. Their network of elected employee
representatives known as BIG, will voice employee`s opinions, concerns and grievances
(M&S, Employee Handbook, 2009).

1.2 Assess how changes in trade unionism have affected employee


Although Trade Unions were subject to severe repression until 1824, afterwards TU were
legalized as numbers of workers joining these associations increased. Better wages and
working conditions were the aims of TU. In 1934 Robert Owen`s Grand National
Consolidated Trades Union attracted a range of socialists from Owenites to
revolutionaries. That organisation played a part in the protests after the Tolpuddle
Martyrs' case, but soon collapsed.
Merthyr Rising has represented an important development in the trade unions in May
1831. At that time, the workers employed by the Crawshay family took to the streets of
Merthyr Tydfil, protesting against the lowering of their wages and general employment.
Due to this strike, by the end of May all the industrial towns and villages in the area were
in rebellion. This movement represented an important step for Trade Unions as since it
was internationally adopted.
To some extent, in 1830 and 1840 trade unions were overshadowed by political activity.
From 1850`s more permanent trade unions were established. In 1860 the London Trades
Council was formed and in 1868 was formed the Trades Unions Congress.
The legal status of trade unions in the United Kingdom was established by a Royal
Commission on Trade Unions in 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the

Employee relations

organisations was to the advantage of both employers and employees. Unions were
legalised in 1871.
In Principles of Political Economy (1871) John Stuart Mill expressed some of the more
liberal sentiment towards unions of the time.
"If it were possible for the working classes, by combining among themselves, to raise or
keep up the general rate of wages, it needs hardly be said that this would be a thing not to
be punished, but to be welcomed and rejoiced at. Unfortunately the effect is quite beyond
attainment by such means. The multitudes who compose the working class are too
numerous and too widely scattered to combine at all, much more to combine effectually.
If they could do so, they might doubtless succeed in diminishing the hours of labour, and
obtaining the same wages for less work. They would also have a limited power of
obtaining, by combination, an increase of general wages at the expense of profits."
The Amalgamated Society of Engineers represented the skilled-workers union where
trade unionism made little progress until the emergence of Trade Unions in 1880 in semiskilled and unskilled workers benefit.
The years 1910-1914 took place an enormous increase in trade union membership, which
affected all industries.
The 1926 United Kingdom general strike was declared by the Trades Union Congress in
defence of the pay and conditions of coal miners. Two unions took the TUC to court in
preventing of being called to strike. The so-called Astbury judgement ruled the general
strike illegal. The ruling forced the TUC to capitulate as it resulted in the TUC being
directly liable for huge fines from employers, and simultaneously gave the government
the ability to confiscate all union funds. As a result, many miners did return to work and
were obligated to accept longer hours of work under a lower pay.
Under Winter of Discontent (1978-1979) took place major strike action which contributed
to the downfall of Labour government of James Callaghan, who appealed for unions to
exercise pay restraint in order to try to curb the rampant inflation.
His attempt to try to limit unions to a 5% pay rise led to widespread official and unofficial
strikes across the country during the winter of that year. The effect of union action was
present in voting also. In November 1978, a Gallup poll suggested a 5% Labour lead in
the opinion polls. Following the union action that Winter, in February 1979, the
Conservatives had a 20% lead. Jim Callaghan government lost a vote of no confidence.
Margaret Thatcher`s Conservative won and as introduced new unions laws in order to
combat the industrial unrest that had played the previous Wilson and Callaghan
In 1984 more unions formed to provide banking services to unions under the Unity Trust
Bank (Wikipedia 2015).

1.3 Explain the role of main players in employee relations.

Employee relations

An employee relation deals with interactions amongst the parties in the employment
relationship. There are three groups: employee and employer, employee organization and
employer organization and others (government and EU institutions).

Role of employer-employee.
Between employer and employee it is creating an psychological contract where from the
employer`s perspective, the employee must show commitment, loyalty and productivity.
The employees should also comply with the policies and procedures like health and safety
requirements, misconduct, verbal abuse etc. A healthy employee relationship is important
for the employees as they will find the work more interesting and will perform at their
best level. Employees and employer should feel comfortable with each other and work in
unison towards common goals. The main role of employer is to provide jobs. They also
have to comply with the law and create friendly work environments where employees feel
secure. In order to achieve their targets, the employer should motivate theirs employees
through rewards which can be promotions, money. An employer/manager should always
be available to his workers as this will give confidence to his worker. The hierarchy
should not be too complicated as it will lead to disputes and confusion amongst
employees ( 2014).

Trade unions and representatives

Trade or labour unions exist since 1930s and resist through equal bargaining power the
domination of employers over employees. Trade unions exist to represent worker`s interests
in employment relationship. A better pay and working conditions have been gained through
union`s efforts. This is why they are treated with dignity and respect at work.
Collective bargaining-employees have equal bargaining power with their employers.
Traditionally, the employers had the ability to set the terms and conditions of work and pay.
Unions represents a group of workers and with their intervention, employees are more
successful in dealing with employers individually. For example, unions are credited with
abolishing sweatshops and child labor in the United States because they insisted for these
practices to end. The National Labor Relations Act guarantee employee`s right to bargain
collectively with the help of their chosen labor union representatives. Unions can organize
boycotts, strikes, go-slows and sit-ins to get employers to consider their proposals.
Unfair practices- labour unions check the unfair labour practices of employers. The NLRA
declares that is unlawful for employers to dominate the union as these employers to dominate
the union as this will discriminate against workers engaged in union activity and victimize
workers who file charges against them in NLRB. Unions make sure that employers comply
with the law.
Legislation- unions are essentials in development laws and regulations for effective worker
protection. They are concerned with the problematic areas of workers in order to provide

Employee relations

protection and fairness. NLRA, the Social Security Act, Family Medical Leave Act and
Occupational Health and Safety Act are measures resulted from unions effort related to better
terms and conditions of employees. They monitor the status of employees. They monitor the
status of implementation of employee welfare law and regulations because they are properly

Role of GOVERNMENT in employment relations

Industrial relations describe the complex series of interactions and communications between
industry management and employee unions. Aside from employers and employees, the
government is the most influential force in the field of industrial relations (eHow 2015).
Employee Relation outcomes can be influenced by different institutions and government
departments in various ways. For instance, police and the army were distributed during
particular strikes where courts judgements have changed the day-to-day relationship between
manager employees and unions.
One of the main roles of government is to manage the economy. It should prosperous and try
to achieve four broad economic policy objectives and each of them can conflict with the
others. Government should ensure price stability, maintain high levels of employment, protect
the exchange rate and also maintain a balance of payment surplus (, 2014).
The government has become an increasingly prominent figure in the industrial relations
arena. Management and unions often depend on the government to resolve disputes or change
legislation to resolve a conflict.
Industrial relations disputes that cannot be resolved independently are often resolved as legal
disputes in court. The ruling in the case creates a precedent, which shapes future, similar
conflicts, and may result in the creation of legislation (eHow 2015).

Task 2
2.1 Explain the procedures on organisation should follow when dealing with different
conflict situations
The employment relationship between employer and employee is a very special type of
exchange. One crucial distinguishing feature is that it involves both market and managerial
relations: a price is fixed for the labour expended, but management then determines the tasks
actually carried out. Another feature is that the relationship is in a state of continuous flux.

Employee relations

There are constant pressures for one party or another to adjust it: employees or employers
may want to adjust the price or the content and manner in which work is carried out.
Conflict is thus an inherent feature of the employment relationship and so too, therefore, is
conflict resolution, the primary mechanism of which is direct social dialogue. Where direct
dialogue between the two parties did not lead to dispute resolution and the conflict remained
active other means of resolving conflicts developed that involved third parties, individuals
or agencies that were substantially independent of the two directly involved opposing parties.
Three principal (and sometimes overlapping) forms of alternatives or supplements to direct
social dialogue processes developed:

conciliation - where a third party would attempt to bring the parties to a dispute
together and help them to reach a mutually acceptable solution;

arbitration - where a third party would make a binding decision on an issue on which
the parties cannot agree; and

Mediation - whereby a third party takes an active role (more so than in conciliation),
usually making recommendations for the resolution of the dispute.

Conflict is inevitable in workplace settings, and conflicts can arise between co-workers,
supervisors and subordinates or between employees and external stakeholders, such as
customers, suppliers and regulatory agencies. Managing conflict is a key management
competency and all small business owners should study and practice effective conflict
management skills to maintain a positive workplace environment.
Firstly dealing conflicts in an organisation has to major procedures like formal and informal
procedure. Formal procedure means taking help from third party outside of the organization.
That means it requires arbitration procedure and we can say that both employees and
employers are, in this case, ethically bound to obey the decision taken by arbitration.
Informal procedure means the mitigation of conflicts by the employee representatives and
the employers representative without any third party. And in organization there is a working
participation committee which is for performing such type of activities.
Here is no policy, operation or process based solution.
The steps of the procedure of solving the conflicts among stakeholders are:
-realizing the pattern of the problem: at first it is very urgent to
realize the actual problem in a proper manner to solve the problem

understand and

-recognizing the problem: then the authority must have to recognize that the
problem is occurred and it is to solve as soon as possible so that the source and origin
of the problem can be understood
-strategy to solve the conflicts: then the authority of the organization should develop
an effective strategy so that all stakeholders can be satisfied and the organization can
be benefited by it.
Compromising one conflict management strategy is to reach a compromise, which means
the parties to the conflict settle on a solution that gives both of them part of what they

Employee relations

wanted. No party gets exactly what it wanted, but neither loses entirely either. Both parties
presumably experience a degree of frustration-but at a level they are willing to live with.
Avoiding- conflict is unpleasant, so people sometimes try to manage conflict by avoiding it
Forcing- because ignoring or avoiding a problem does not make it go away, a supervisor may
want to try a more direct approach to ending a conflict. One possibility is to force a solution.
This means that a person or group with power decides what the outcome will be.
Resolving- the most direct and sometimes the most difficult way to manage conflict is to
confront the problem and solve it. This is the conflict management strategy called conflict
Confronting the problem requires listening to both sides and attempting to understand rather
than to place blame. Next, the parties should identify the areas on which they agree and the
ways they can both benefit from possible solutions. Both parties should examine their own
feelings and take their time at reaching a solution.
A famous case of industrial conflict is British Airways and the Unite trade union which has
ended one of the most rancorous industrial disputes in recent decades after cabin crew at the
airline accepted a peace deal.
Following 22 days of walkouts and a 150m pounds hit the BAs balance sheet, both sides
have declared an end to nearly two years of hostilities. The agreement includes the return of
staff travel perks for the thousands of crew who took part in strikes last year, but not the
reversal of staff cuts that triggered the initial dispute in 2009. More than 6500 crew backed
the deal, representing a 92% majority on a 72% turnout. Len McCluskey,
Unite general secretary, said: Thankfully we have reached an honourable agreement with
BA. The overwhelming acceptance of this deal by cabin crew that both parties can now move
forward together on securing a bright future for the airline.
BA said: The skills and professionalism of British Airways cabin crew are second to none,
and we are delighted this dispute is behind us.

2.2 Explain the key features of employee relations in a selected conflict

Employee relations are concerned with how to gain peoples commitment to the
achievement of the organisations business and objectives in a number of different situations.
The concept of employer-employee relations is complex and multi-dimensional.
This concept is not limited to relations between trade unions and employer and is also
extends to the general web of relationships between employers, employees and the
This concept is not a static concept, is very dynamic and it flourishes or stagnates or decays
along with the economic and social institutions that exist in a society. The institutional forces
give content and shape to employer-employee relations in a country.

Employee relations

The main purpose of Unison in UK is protecting the rights and demand of employees
working in private and public sector. Employee relation gets different features in different
types of conflicts in Unison. There is no discrimination when there is a conflict in Unison as
there has some common interest among the employees
Negotiation is one of the key features to address the conflict situation between the employee
groups and management of an organisation.
Collective bargaining is one of the major features of employee relations in a particular
conflict situation.
Poor communication is another reason of conflict in organization. For poor communication
with employees there can have a gap of understanding between employees and employers.
Unfair treatment: there is different level of employees of different ages, designation, etc
when equitable treatment is disappeared; conflicts may inevitable in the organisation.
Mediation may be considered when a grievance has been filed by a represented employee.
Grievances involving working relationships, interpersonal communication or uncertainty
regarding expectations are examples of problems typically considered for mediation.
Mediation is not the formal venue for negotiating formal discipline without the involvement
of department management and the appropriate Labour and Employee Relations Analyst. If
all parties agree (the manager, employee, Labour and Employee Relations and the bargaining
unit), it is possible to stop the clock on grievance processing so that partied can use
mediation to determine whether they can reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

2.3 Evaluate the effectiveness of procedure used in a selected conflict

The procedure used in a selected conflict situation of Unison include the negotiation to solve
the problem, finding out the origin of the conflict, costs of the conflicts for the perspective of
organization and the employees. This system may be harmful as the unified steps taken to
solve the conflicts always cannot meet the whole conflict for the entire employees group and
this is why the employees may not be satisfied after a solution is reached.
Formal procedure is very effective when very sensitive and very uncommon conflict issues
come: for example, minimum salary and salary range in organization. When any type of
mistake can results huge costs for organization, formal procedure is very effective
Is well known that Unison is working for the best interest of employees who are working in
private and public sectors companies or organisation.
Conflict areas are:


Employee relations

-mutual interest: collective bargaining issue may not benefit unions or a particular
group of members in a union.
-contradictory rules or principles: principles of unions may not satisfy all the
members of the unions
-approaches and procedures: another conflict area is the approaches and procedures.
Different groups intend to different approaches and procedures to the actions
Strategies for conflict resolution will also vary according to the different philosophical bases
of those involved. Generally, these bases encompass the win-lose, lose-lose and win-win
approaches to conflict resolution. Win-lose are too often overused as a strategy for solving
Whereas these methods include the use of mental or physical power to bring about
compliance, a lose-lose approach will also leave no one entirely happy. Compromise, side
payments and submission of the issue to a neutral third party, as in the arbitration procedure,
constitute examples of this latter approach.
Arbitration resolves issues at some middle-ground between the positions held by the
disputants such that while each disputant gains something the outcome is rarely satisfying to
either side.
The win-win approach is now becoming more popular although it is still misunderstood by
many administrators. This method yields solutions satisfactory to all in that each party to the
conflict wins something, and the conflict is therefore resolved constructively. It could be
suggested that important conflicts tend to be best managed with positive-sum (win-win)
strategies, while more trivial issues merit no more than zero-sum (win-lose/lose-lose)
strategies, with most situations.
In general, it can be concluded that conflict has been effectively managed when it no longer
interferes with the ongoing activities of those involved.
Conflict management is therefore the process of removing cognitive barriers to agreement
(Greenhalgh, 1986). Depending on the situation, conflict management techniques often focus
on changing structure, changing process or both. Sometimes structural modifications are not
very creative, and the response to conflict is simply more rules and hardening of the role
Such efforts can improve the situation outwardly but not without consequences, for as
Sanford (1964) states: "the hardening of the role structure which is an organization's best
defence against the inroads of individual irrationality gives equal protection against failing
and against success" allying for mixed modes (no win-no lose).


Employee relations

Task 3
3.1 Explain the role of negotiation in collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between the representatives of an employer
(or employers) and of workers.
The intention of these negotiations is to arrive at a collective agreement that will govern the
employment relationship. This typically covers issues such as wages, working time, and other
working conditions. Since collective agreements also regulate labour relations they are likely
to address the rights and responsibilities of the respective parties.
Collective bargaining is premised on a well-defined employment relationship and the
freedom of workers and employers to associate to an organisation that represents their
interest. It is a means to address work-related issues in a way that accommodates the interests
of all parties concerned.
Collective bargaining involves a process of joint decision making and is thus distinct from
others forms of governance such as government regulations, individual contracts and/ or the
unilateral decisions of employers.
Negotiation strategy can affect for a given situation positively or negatively as negotiations
strategy may not be favourable equally for the parties involved in a conflict situation.
Unison is a recognized and unified established from different union groups in UK. The
negotiation strategy helps the employers to control the whole conflicts among the unions and
the employers of the organisations.
Unisons negotiation strategy is also very helpful as it can make the employees satisfied with
the negotiation strategy and can bring a perfect solution for the employees. Unison is
established to protect the rights of employers and employees so that organisation and the
overall economy should advance in a smooth manner.
Unisons negotiation strategy is also very helpful for creating a perfect cooperation between
the organisation and employees. As the negotiation strategy of Unison is able to bring the
proper solution it can enhance the speed of employee performance and increase the employee
relations resulting a better working environment. Besides impact mentioned above
negotiation strategy of Unison tries to maintain the higher possibility that there will have
occurred such types of conflicts in future and it is very effective and better side of the
negotiations strategy of Unison.
In recent years, NHS employers have generally supported de-centralization and the
financially viable setting of terms and conditions. On the other hand, trade unions have
tended to support the national sector-level regulation of the sector. Unison has 450,000
members in the sector, 225,000 of these are nurses, and the union is a general public sector
union. The organization can provide evidence to the independent health pay review bodies at

Employee relations

national level, although final decisions on pay awards are then made by the government.
Through the NHS Staff Council, the trade unions negotiate any variations in core conditions
and the interpretation of the national pay agreement. Collective bargaining might also occur
locally at trust-level with regard to issues such as working time.

4.1 Assess the influence of the EU on industrial democracy in the UK
Philip, Adrian & Saunders (2003), the concept industrial democracy indicates the democracy
practices by both the employers and employees of a particular organisation.
Industrial democracy confirms the participation of employers and employees to take the
decision, sharing the power and responsibility among the employers and employees,
possessing some authority in terms of governing the overall activities of the particular
In EU all countries are not following the industrial relationship as like as the industrial
democracy. But EU is contributing to enhance the industrial democracy situation in European
Union countries.
EU in European countries is on the door to a perfect industrial democracy and industrial
relation in the organizations. With this influence, employees of the European countries
thinking themselves as the important stakeholders for the organizations as the European
Union is promoting the greater involvement of the workers in almost every phase of the
activities of the organization.
Due to the influence of EU the new concept name partner based relationship is visible in
much organization of the European courtiers and is contributing to raise the voice of the
employees in terms of decision making, sharing power and responsibility, authority, etc

4.2 Compare methods used to gain employee participation and

involvement in the decision making process in organisations
through taxation and spending
through laws, directives and regulations
through encouraging business activity through subsidies and support
by providing advice and support for business.

Employee participation can be a form of consultation and a form of involvement in the

decision making process in organization.


Employee relations

Consultation may be occurred in terms of delivering the opinion of employee when any
decision to be taken but this is not mandatory to appreciate or receive the opinion of
employees from the organization. It is considered just as the informal arrangement of
employees participation to gain the employees in decision making and other organizational
Consultancy can be found when employees of an organization are encouraged to deliver their
opinions in case of any type decision making, goal setting or strategy formulation. If the
upper level supervisor finds any implementable idea or concept from the employees then it
may be implemented in the particular area of that organization (Daphne, 2008).
On the other hand, employee participation means raising the voice of employee in terms of
decision making, power and responsibility, authority, also denotes the receiving, evaluation
and implementation of the opinion or decision as the important stakeholders of an
Most of the cases employees are treated as the valuable persons in the concept of employee
participation; Participation may be in the form of board level participation, participation in
ownership, participation in collective bargaining, participation via control and participation
through the job enrichment.

4.3 Assess the impact of human resource management on employee

Whalen & Charles (2008), HRM is a vital part of any organization because people working in
the organization can build and destroy that organization with their behaviour, attitude and
That is why is very essence for the management of an organization to manage its human
resource properly. I cannot be thought employee relations without thinking human resource
management and vice versa.
Human resource division of the organization motivates and provides guide line so that
organizational ultimate goal can be achieved. But the policies regarding wages, salary,
working hours, working environment, working safety are some issues that cannot be set as
the sweet will of the authority without taking part of the members where the trade unions are
active. Another area or scope of impact is that the human resource management division
members are may be the members of trade unions and that is why employee relation issue is
the thinking line when organization needs to set as standard about the human resource


Employee relations


Employee relations


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Kaufman, Bruce E. (2004). The Global Evolution of Industrial Relations: Events, Ideas, and
the IIRA, InternationalLabor Office.
Philip Lewis; Adrian Thornhill; Mark Saunders (2003). Employee Relations: Understanding
the Employment Relationship. Financial Times/Prentice Hall.
Daphne Taras (2008). How industrial relations is marginalized in business schools: using
institutional theory to examine our home base.
Susan Hayter (2011). The role of collective bargaining in the global economy