Employment Relationships

Employment Relationships

Employment Relationships






Importance of Unions and collective bargaining in the current economic condition

Collective bargaining refers to a tool or mechanism in industrial relations, which is used for the purpose of negotiation. It is a vital aspect in any employment relationship, in an organization. Unions have a role to play in collective bargaining as well as in negotiating. The latter represents the collective interest of all its members at the work place. Often, there is a public interest in matters concerning negotiations, as this is related to labor laws. Governments have a role to play in collective bargaining as they are responsible for workers in their country. According to the International Labor Organization, collective bargaining refers to voluntary negotiation, which exists in organizations, and it involves employers and their employees. They must all be aware that there are certain conditions and terms, which exist during this process. Furthermore, both parties should strive towards reaching an agreement (Susseles & Magid, 2005).

According to the unitary view, the employee and the employer must have an interesting identity. In case, there are any conflicts it is due to mischief or misunderstanding by the parties involved. Most times those in managerial positions over look this view as they believe that the employees share the same goals as them (Hogler, 2005). This means that it is associated with the approach that focuses on traditional human relations. Before, this approach was viewed as being unrealistic as well as old fashioned. This view has currently been done away with as it does not bring desirable advantages to organizations. Most managers used to deal with the employees directly and did not want any union members to be present during negotiations.

A system, which is political, should exist among various pressure groups, and this is according to an outlook, which is pluralistic. Some of these pressure groups include; political parties, unions, religious groups and business associations. Concessions can be made by the government in order to arrive at a compromise through effective dialogue. Pluralism advocates for there to be an intermediary during the process of negotiation. Democracy is achieved when the various groups are involved in collective bargaining (McDonald, 2000). It ensures that checks and balances exist, and this is extremely desirable. This means that, in organizations, which are pluralist, stability is brought about by collective bargaining. The latter is viewed as a tool, which is fundamental, in the process of negotiation. Moreover, unions and collective bargaining enhance freedom among employees. They will work well knowing that, in case of any work related problems, they will be represented.

Settlement is easily achieved through consensus and dialogue when collective bargaining is used during employee relations. This is far off better than using the approach of confrontation and conflict, which has a negative impact. Organizations, which do not use collective bargaining often, leave solutions to be determined by third parties. In collective bargaining, it is the party members who make decisions regarding their problems. In such economic times, making appropriate decisions and in a timely manner is needed. When all the parties are happy, work will resume, and this will be advantageous to the organization (Palokangas, 2000).

Collective bargaining leads to dialogue and in turn, brings about institutionalized settlement. Various methods of collective bargaining ensure that a decision will be made easily. It helps in forecasting whether there is a chance that an agreement will be achieved. In turn, disagreements will exist in the organization, and this will lead to more problems. When employers and employees are involved in collective bargaining, it enhances participation (Tyler, 2005). The union members and the employees all decide on what should be done about the situation at hand. Furthermore, it is a method of ensuring that power and rule making is shared. Before, matters concerning making rules were a function of those in top management. The latter were the only ones responsible for factors such as modernization, redundancy, transfer promotions and discipline. However, in some countries, like Malaysia and Singapore, some work functions are not accepted by law. They include; layoffs, promotions, transfers, retrenchments and promotions, among others.

Through the use of collective bargaining, disputes are settled through the actions of trade unions. In turn, industrial peace is easily achieved as the agreements guarantee it. In this modern time when there are many economic problems, this is extremely desirable. When peace prevails, workers focus their attention on working and this increases productivity. On the other hand, when workers are not at peace they will not focus on their jobs. The result is that the organization may lose out on profits, which it would be making (Armstrong & Goodman, 2009). Labor relations in many organizations are striving because of the social partnerships, which have been brought about by collective bargaining. This means that there will be mutually beneficial relationships between organized labor institutions and employer institutions. In turn, in case any disputes arise the employees and employees will be prepared. Collective bargaining leads to the maintenance of process of negotiation, which is non-confrontational.

The relationship, which exists between the parties benefits through by- products obtained from collective bargaining. Trust is created and enhanced due to the dealings that are considered being bona fide and successful. Furthermore, union members, employees and employers have a relationship, which is mutual. This means that it will lead to solving problems, rather than attacking the various party members. Union membership is stabilized through consequent bargains and collective bargaining. It will ensure that employees and employers do not keep on changing their union loyalties. When employees keep on changing their union membership, it affects the organization as it is expensive. Disputes, which exist between various unions, might lead to rivalry. Thus, union loyalty is a vital aspect of the process of collective bargaining (Wajcman, 2000).

Collective bargaining usually takes place at three levels, and these are enterprise, industry and national levels (Forth & Millward, 2000). No country in the world where it places exclusively on one level. In the United States, most collective bargains procedures take place at the enterprise level. It occurs in all other areas except for industries such as construction, trucking, steel and coal. According to research, it has been found out that performance of employees is enhanced when there is bargaining at the industry level. Employees believe that they have security, which is in the form of trade unions to offer them support. It is a common site in the media to hear that workers are striking, and they are not worried about losing their jobs.

The European Union is fully aware about the role, which unions and collective bargains play in this economic crisis. This means that its member countries will have to come up with standardized policies, which focus on collective bargaining. The European Monetary Union seeks to ensure that unions benefit from adjustments of exchange rates. As a member of the European Union, it will be easy to benefit from issues that affect organizations that are unionized. Furthermore, organizations will now be competitive and know how to balance off inequalities (Glassner & Watt, 2010). Moreover, there is a need for organizations to adjust the wages of their employees in order to meet the expectations of the European Union. Organizations were worried that the money regime, which exists, would make want to stop working. Fortunately, Europeans organizations have come up with effective instruments, which are known as wage formulas. In the public sector, many of the employees have had their salaries drastically reduced. Organizations in, which employees are in unions, are the ones which have not been affected as much by this crisis. They have actively negotiated with their employees. It has even reached a point whereby, some employees are given counter offers, so as not to go and work in the United States. It must be known that, in the future, such unions will be the ones, which will run matters concerning employee relationships.

In conclusion, the pluralist approach should be used by employers who are in managerial positions, in various organizations. It has been found out in various studies that employment relationships are strengthened through the process of collective bargaining. Most employees are now fully aware of their rights, and that is why they have joined various unions. The economy crisis affecting the world has made negotiations, and collective bargaining become hard to deal with. Fortunately, organizations have found ways to be constructive and gain from collective bargaining and becoming unionized.


Glassner, Vera. & Watt, Andrew. (2010). The Current Crisis reveals both : the importance and the limitations of the transnational coordination of collective bargaining policies. Social Europe Journal. 15, 45-78.

Forth, J. & Millward, N. (2000) High involvement management, unions and pay, mimeo,

National Institute of Social and Economic Research

Palokangas, T. (2000) Labour Unions, Public Policy and Economic Growth, Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press

Wajcman, J. (2000) Feminism Facing Industrial Relations in Britain’, British Journal of IndustrialRelations, 38, 2, 183-202.

Ackers, P. (2002) .Reframing employment relations: the case for neo-pluralism, Industrial

Relations Journal, 33, 1, 2–19.

Armstrong, P. & Goodman, J. (2009). Managerial and supervisory custom and

practice, Industrial Relations Journal, 10, 3, 12–24.

McDonald, Kathlene. (2000). Same goals, but another way of getting there.

Social Policy, 30, 4, 23.

Susseles, Elliot. & Magid, Marcia. (2005). “Pay for Performance in the Public Sector.” Benefits & Compensation Digest. 42, 1, 32-35.

Hogler, R. (2005). “The Changing Role of Unions: New Forms of Representation.” Choice, 42, 7, 1273

Tyler, Kathryn. (2005). Good-Faith Bargaining.” HR Focus, 50, 1, 8-53.

Freeman, Richard. (2005). What Do Unions Do? Journal of Labor Research, 26, 4,641-668.

Collective Bargaining Outlook: Expect a Hard Line on Benefits. HR Focus. 82, 4, 9.