Actors in Industrial Relation6th April 2021
The role of government in the matter of industrial relations has been changing along with changes in industrial environment and management perspective. For example, till century, the governments everywhere in the world adopted a policy of laissez faire.
The IR matters were left to be settled by the employees and employers. But, towards the end of the 19 century, the attitude of the government in the changed conditions of conflicts between employees and employers, changed to some kind of intervention in the matter of IR.
In due course of realization, government intervention became a reality. As of day, government intervention has become widespread in HR matters. In India, government tries to regulate the relationship of employees and employers, and also keeps an eye on both groups to keep each in line. This relationship is enforced and maintained through labour courts, industrial tribunals, wage boards, investigating and enquiry committees, etc.
Among the participants to IR, employees are considered as the most affected one by the IR system prevalent in an organisation. Employees with their various characteristics such as their commitment to the work and the organisation, their educational and social background, their attitudes towards the management and so on affect and are affected by the system of IR.
Generally, employees perceive IR as a means to improve their conditions of employment, voice against any grievances, exchange views and ideas with management and participate in organisational decision making processes.
Employees participate in the IR system through their associations, or say, trade unions. Past evidences indicate that trade unions play a crucial role in making an IR system as effective or otherwise. Trade unions with their strong political and emotional overtones are looked upon as a tool to wrest concessions from employers.
- To redress the bargaining advantage on one-on-one basis, i.e., individual worker vis-a-vis individual employer by way of joint or collective actions.
- To secure better terms and conditions of employment for their members.
- To obtain improved status for the worker in his/her work.
- To increase democratic mode of decision making at various levels
However, various factors such as union membership, its attitude towards management, inter- union rivalry and the strengths at the national or local level determine the role of trade unions in influencing the system of IR in an organisation.
Employer is the second party to IR. In the corporate organisation, employer is represented by the management. Hence, management becomes responsible to various stakeholders in an organisation including employees.
According to Cole, management has to see IR in terms of the following employee-employer relationship:
- Creating and sustaining employee motivation.
- Ensuring commitment from employees.
- Achieving higher levels of efficiency.
- Negotiating terms and conditions of employment with the representatives of employees.
- Sharing decision making with employees.
Like employees’ associations, employers also form their associations at the local, industry and national levels. Examples of employers’ associations at all India level are Associated Chambers of Commerce’s and Industry (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), etc.
Objectives of the employers’ associations in relation to IR:
- Represent employers in collective bargaining at the national or industry level.
- Develop machinery for avoiding disputes.
- Provide feedback on employee relations.
- Advise member organisations on the issues relating to IR.