For all the students and colleagues, I have tried to elaborate the concept of industrial relations and the related aspects with HR & organizations.
Meaning & Definition of Industrial Relation
The relationship between Employer and employee or trade unions is called Industrial Relation. Harmonious relationship is necessary for both employers and employees to safeguard the interests of the both the parties of the production. In order to maintain good relationship with the employees, the main functions of every organization should avoid any dispute with them or settle it as early as possible so as to ensure industrial peace and higher productivity. Personnel management is mainly concerned with the human relation in industry because the main theme of personnel management is to get the work done by the human power and it fails in its objectives if good industrial relation is maintained. In other words good Industrial Relation means industrial peace which is necessary for better and higher productions.
i. Industrial Relation is that part of management which is concerned with the manpower of the enterprise – whether machine operator, skilled worker or manager. BETHEL, SMITH & GROUP
ii. Industrial Relation is a relation between employer and employees, employees and employees and employees and trade unions. - Industrial dispute Act 1947
iii. While moving from jungle of the definitions, here, Industrial Relation is viewed as the “process by which people and their organizations interact at the place of work to establish the terms and conditions of employment.”
The Industrial Relation relations also called as labor - management, employee-employers relations.
A few notable features pertaining to Industrial Relations are as under:
1. Industrial Relation do not emerge in vacuum they are born of employment relationship in an industrial setting. Without the existence of the two parties, i.e. labor and management, this relationship cannot exist. It is the industry, which provides the environment for industrial relations.
2. Industrial Relation are characterized by both conflict and co-operations. This is the basis of adverse relationship. So the focus of Industrial Relations in on the study of the attitudes, relationships, practices and procedure developed by the contending parties to resolve or at least minimize conflicts.
3. As the labor and management do not operate in isolations but are parts of large system, so the study of Industrial Relation also includes vital environment issues like technology of the workplace, country’s socio-economic and political environment, nation’s labor policy, attitude of trade unions workers and employers.
4. Industrial Relation also involve the study of conditions conductive to the labor, managements co-operations as well as the practices and procedures required to elicit the desired co-operation from both the parties.
5. Industrial Relations also study the laws, rules regulations agreements, awards of courts, customs and traditions, as well as policy framework laid down by the governments for eliciting co-operations between labor and management. Besides this, it makes an in-depth analysis of the interference patterns of the executive and judiciary in the regulations of labor–managements relations.
In fact the concepts of Industrial Relations are very broad-based, drawing heavily from a variety of discipline like social sciences, humanities, behavioral sciences, laws etc.
In fact, Industrial Relation encompasses all such factors that influence behavior of people at work. A few such important factors are details below:
1. Institution: It includes government, employers, trade unions, unions federations or associations, government bodies, labor courts, tribunals and other organizations which have direct or indirect impact on the industrial relations systems.
2. Characters : It aims to study the role of workers unions and employers’ federations officials, shop stewards, industrial relations officers/ manager, mediator/conciliators / arbitrator, judges of labor court, tribunal etc.
3. Methods : Focus on collective bargaining, workers’ participation in the Industrial Relation schemes, discipline procedure, grievance re-dressal machinery, dispute settlements machinery working of closed shops, union reorganization, organizations of protests through methods like revisions of existing rules, regulations, policies, procedures, hearing of labor courts, tribunals etc.
4. Contents : Includes matter pertaining to employment conditions like pay, hours of works, leave with wages, health, and safety disciplinary actions, lay-off, dismissals retirements etc., laws relating to such activities, regulations governing labor welfare, social security, industrial relations, issues concerning with workers’ participation in management, collective bargaining, etc.
Objectives of Industrial Relation
A. To safeguard the interest of labor and management by securing the highest level of mutual understanding and good-will among all those sections in the industry which participate in the process of production.
B. To avoid industrial conflict or strife and develop harmonious relations, which are an essential factor in the productivity of workers and the industrial progress of a country.
C. To raise productivity to a higher level in an era of full employment by lessening the tendency to high turnover and frequency absenteeism.
D. To establish and nurse the growth of an Industrial Democracy based on labor partnership in the sharing of profits and of managerial decisions, so that ban individuals personality may grow its full stature for the benefit of the industry and of the country as well.
E. To eliminate, as far as is possible and practicable, strikes, lockouts and gheraos by providing reasonable wages, improved living and working conditions, said fringe benefits.
F. To establish government control of such plants and units as are running at a loss or in which productions has to be regulated in the public interest.
G. Improvements in the economic conditions of workers in the existing state of industrial managements and political government.
H. Control exercised by the state over industrial undertaking with a view to regulating production and promoting harmonious industrial relations.
I. Socializations or rationalization of industries by making he state itself a major employer
J. Vesting of a proprietary interest of the workers in the industries in which they are employed.
The main aspect of Industrial Relations are :-
i. Labor Relations, i.e. relations between union and management.
ii. Employer-employees relations, i.e. relations between management and employees.
iii. Group relations, i.e. relations between various groups of workmen.
iv. Community or Public relations, i.e. relations between industry and society.
v. Promotions and development of healthy labor-managements relations.
vi. Maintenance of industrial peace and avoidance of industrial strife
vii. Development of true industrial Democracy.
Effects of poor Industrial Relations
Poor Industrial Relation produces highly disquieting effects on the economic life of the country. We may enumerate the ill-effects of poor Industrial Relations as under:
1. Multiplier effects: Modern industry and for that matter modern economy are interdependent. Hence although the direct loss caused due to industrial conflict in any one plant may not be very great, the total loss caused due to its multipliers effect on the total economy is always very great.
2. Fall in normal tempo : poor Industrial Relations adversely effect the normal tempo of work so that work far below the optimum level. Costs build up. Absenteeism and labor turnover increase. Plants discipline breaks down and both the quality and quality of production suffer.
3. Resistance of change : Dynamic industrial situation calls for change more or less continuously. Methods have to be improved. Economics have to be introduced. New products have to be designed, produced and put in the market. Each of these tasks involves a whole chain of changes and this is resisted bitterly if these are industrial conflict.
4. frustration and social cost : every man comes to the work place not only to earn a living.
He wants to satisfy his social and egoistic needs also. When he finds difficulty in satisfying these needs he feels frustrated. Poor Industrial Relations take a heavy toll in terms of human frustration. They reduce cordiality and aggravate social tension.
Suggestions to Improve Industrial Relation :-
a. Both management and unions should develop constructive attitudes towards each other
b. All basic policies and procedures relating to Industrial Relation should be clear to everybody in the organization and to the union leader. The personnel manager must make certain that line people will understand and agree with these policies.
c. The personnel manager should remove any distrust by convincing the union of the company’s integrity and his own sincerity and honesty. Suspicious, rumors and doubts should all be put to rest.
d. The personnel manager should not vie with the union to gain workers‘loyal to both the organization. Several research studies also confirm the idea of dual allegiance. There is strong evidence to discard the belief that one can owe allegiance to one group only.
e. Management should encourage right kind of union leadership. While it is not for the management to interfere with union activities, or choose the union leadership, its action and attitude will go a long way towards developing the right kind of union leadership. “Management gets the union it deserves” is not just an empty phrase. Managements
IMPORTANCE OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS:
The healthy industrial relations are key to the progress. Their significance may be discussed as under -
1. Uninterrupted production – The most important benefit of industrial relations is that this ensures continuity of production. This means, continuous employment for all from manager to workers. The resources are fully utilized, resulting in the maximum possible production. There is uninterrupted flow of income for all. Smooth running of an industry is of vital importance for several other industries; to other industries if the products are intermediaries or inputs; to exporters if these are export goods; to consumers and workers, if these are goods of mass consumption.
2. Reduction in Industrial Disputes – Good industrial relation reduce the industrial disputes. Disputes are reflections of the failure of basic human urges or motivations to secure adequate satisfaction or expression which are fully cured by good industrial relations. Strikes, lockouts, go-slow tactics, gherao and grievances are some of the reflections of industrial unrest which do not spring up in an atmosphere of industrial peace. It helps promoting co-operation and increasing production.
3. High morale – Good industrial relations improve the morale of the employees. Employees work with great zeal with the feeling in mind that the interest of employer and employees is one and the same, i.e. to increase production. Every worker feels that he is a co-owner of the gains of industry. The employer in his turn must realize that the gains of industry are not for him along but they should be shared equally and generously with his workers. In other words, complete unity of thought and action is the main achievement of industrial peace. It increases the place of workers in the society and their ego is satisfied. It naturally affects production because mighty co-operative efforts alone can produce great results.
4. Mental Revolution – The main object of industrial relation is a complete mental revolution of workers and employees. The industrial peace lies ultimately in a transformed outlook on the part of both. It is the business of leadership in the ranks of workers, employees and Government to work out a new relationship in consonance with a spirit of true democracy. Both should think themselves as partners of the industry and the role of workers in such a partnership should be recognized. On the other hand, workers must recognize employer’s authority. It will naturally have impact on production because they recognize the interest of each other.
5. New Programmes – New programmes for workers development are introduced in an atmosphere of peace such as training facilities, labor welfare facilities etc. It increases the efficiency of workers resulting in higher and better production at lower costs.
6. Reduced Wastage – Good industrial relations are maintained on the basis of cooperation and recognition of each other. It will help increase production. Wastages of man, material and machines are reduced to the minimum and thus national interest is protected.
Thus, from the above discussion, it is evident that good industrial relation is the basis of higher production with minimum cost and higher profits. It also results in increased efficiency of workers. New and new projects may be introduced for the welfare of the workers and to promote the morale of the people at work.
An economy organized for planned production and distribution, aiming at the realization of social justice and welfare of the massage can function effectively only in an atmosphere of industrial peace. If the twin objectives of rapid national development and increased social justice are to be achieved, there must be harmonious relationship between management and labor.
Difference between Industrial Relations & Human Relations:
The term “Industrial Relations” is different from “Human Relations”. Industrial relations refer to the relations between the employees and the employer in an industry. Human relations refer to a personnel-management policy to be adopted in industrial organizations to develop a sense of belongingness in the workers improves their efficiency and treat them as human beings and make a partner in industry.
Industrial relations cover the matters regulated by law or by collective agreement between employees and employers. On the other hand, problems of human relations are personal in character and are related to the behavior of worker where morale and social elements predominated. Human relations approach is personnel philosophy which can be applied by the management of an undertaking. The problem of industrial relations is usually dealt with a three levels – the level of undertaking, the industry and at the national level. To sum up the term “Industrial Relations” is more wide and comprehensive and the term “Human Relations” is a part of it.
Determining factors of industrial relations –
Good industrial relations depend on a great variety of factors. Some of the more obvious ones are listed below:
1. History of industrial relations – No enterprise can escape its good and bad history of industrial relations. A good history is marked by harmonious relationship between management and workers. A bad history by contrast is characterized by militant strikes and lockouts. Both types of history have a tendency to perpetuate themselves. Once militancy is established as a mode of operations there is a tendency for militancy to continue. Or once harmonious relationship is established there is a tendency for harmony to continue.
2. Economic satisfaction of workers – Psychologists recognize that human needs have a certain priority. Need number one is the basic survival need. Much of men conducted are dominated by this need. Man works because he wants to survive. This is all the more for underdeveloped countries where workers are still living under subsistence conditions. Hence economic satisfaction of workers is another important prerequisite for good industrial relations.
3. Social and Psychological satisfaction – Identifying the social and psychological urges of workers is a very important steps in the direction of building good industrial relations. A man does not live by bread alone. He has several other needs besides his physical needs which should also be given due attention by the employer. An organization is a joint venture involving a climate of human and social relationships wherein each participant feels that he is fulfilling his needs and contributing to the needs of others. This supportive climate requires economic rewards as well as social and psychological rewards such as workers’ participation in management, job enrichment, suggestion schemes, re-dressal of grievances etc.
4. Off-the-Job Conditions – An employer employs a whole person rather than certain separate characteristics. A person’s traits are all part of one system making up a whole man. His home life is not separable from his work life and his emotional condition is not separate from his physical condition. Hence for good industrial relations it is not enough that the worker’s factory life alone should be taken care of his off-the-job conditions should also be improved to make the industrial relations better.
5. Enlightened Trade Unions – The most important condition necessary for good industrial relations is a strong and enlightened labor movement which may help to promote the status of labor without harming the interests of management, Unions should talk of employee contribution and responsibility. Unions should exhort workers to produce more, persuade management to pay more, mobilize public opinion on vital labor issues and help Government to enact progressive labor laws.
6. Negotiating skills and attitudes of management and workers – Both management and workers’ representation in the area of industrial relations come from a great variety of backgrounds in terms of training, education, experience and attitudes. These varying backgrounds play a major role in shaping the character of industrial relations. Generally speaking, well-trained and experienced negotiators who are motivated by a desire for industrial peace create a bargaining atmosphere conducive to the writing of a just and equitable collective agreement. On the other hand, ignorant, inexperienced and ill-trained persons fail because they do not recognize that collective bargaining is a difficult human activity which deals as much in the emotions of people as in their economic interests. It requires careful preparation and top –notch executive competence. It is not usually accomplished by some easy trick or gimmick. Parties must have trust and confidence in each other. They must possess empathy, i.e. they should be able to perceive a problem from the opposite angle with an open mind. They should put themselves in the shoes of the other party and then diagnose the problem. Other factors which help to create mutual trust are respect for the law and breadth of the vision. Both parties should show full respect for legal and voluntary obligations and should avoid the tendency to make a mountain of a mole hill.
7. Public policy and legislation: - when Government, regulates employee relations, it becomes a third major force determining industrial relations the first two being the employer and the union. Human behavior is then further complicated as all three forces interact in a single employee relation situation. Nonetheless, government in all countries intervenes in management – union relationship by enforcing labor laws and by insisting that the goals of whole society shall take precedence over those of either of the parties. Government intervention helps in three different ways 1) it helps in catching and solving problems before they become serious. Almost every one agrees that it is better to prevent fires them to try stopping them after they start; 2) It provides a formalized means to the workers and employers to give emotional release to their dissatisfaction; and 3) It acts as a check and balance upon arbitrary and capricious management action.
8. Better education: - with rising skills and education workers’ expectations in respect of rewards increase. It is a common knowledge that the industrial worker in India is generally illiterate and is misled by outside trade union leaders who have their own axe to grind. Better workers’ education can be a solution to this problem. This alone can provide worker with a proper sense of responsibility, which they owe to the organization in particular, and to the community in general.
9. Nature of industry: - In those industries where the costs constitute a major proportion of the total cast, lowering down the labor costs become important when the product is not a necessity and therefore, there is a little possibility to pass additional costs on to consumer. Such periods, level of employment and wages rise in decline in employment and wages. This makes workers unhappy and destroys good industrial relations.
Industrial Relations Programme:
Today’s professional industrial relations director, or by whatever title he is designated, no longer views his job as personalizing management, or that of a social worker in a factory, or a union buster, he looks upon his department as an adjunct to management supervision at all levels; he keeps other executives informed about new discoveries, programme trends and needs. At the same time, he provides efficient service in the operation of several centralized services.
A successful industrial relations programme reflects the personnel viewpoint, which is influenced by three main considerations:
a) Individual thinking
b) Policy awareness and
c) Expected group reaction
Individualized thinking makes if imperative for the administrator to consider the entire situation in which the affected individual is placed. Policy awareness underscores the idea of the consistency of treatment and the precedent value of any decision which a management takes; while expected group reaction balances what we know of human nature in groups against an individual’s situation in the light of the policy that has been formulated and implemented. In all these different circumstances, reality demands that all the three aspects of the personnel viewpoint should be considered at once in terms of the past, the present and the future. This viewpoint is held at all the levels of management from the top to the bottom, from the top executives and staff to the line and supervisory personnel.
Scope of IR Work:
The staff employed in the industrial relations department should know the limitations within which it has to function. The industrial relations director generally has several assistants who help him to perform his functions effectively, and he usually reports directly to the president or chairman of the board of directors of an organization.
The functions of the industrial relations staff are -
1. Administration, including overall organization, supervision and co-ordination of industrial relations policies and programmes.
2. Liaison with outside groups and personnel departments as well as with various cadres of the management staff.
3. The drafting of regulations, rules, laws or orders and their construction and interpretation.
4. Position classification, including overall direction of job analysis, salary and wage administration, wage survey and pay schedules.
5. Recruitment and employment of workers and other staff.
6. Employment testing, including intelligence tests, mechanical aptitude tests and achievement tests.
7. Placement, including induction and assignment.
8. Training of apprentices, production workers, foremen and executives.
9. Employee counseling on all types of personnel problems-educational, vocational, health or behavior problems.
10. Medical and health services.
11. Safety services, including first aid training.
12. Group activities, including group health insurance, housing, cafeterial programmes and social clubs.
13. Suggestion plans and their uses in labor, management and production committees.
14. Employee relations, specially collective bargaining with representatives and settling grievances.
15. Public relations.
16. Research in occupational trends and employee attitudes, and analysis of labor turnover.
17. Employee records for all purposes.
18. Control of operation surveys, fiscal research and analysis.
19. Benefit, retirement and pension programmes.
FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS PROGRAMME
The basic requirements on which a successful industrial relations programme is based are :-
a) Top Management Support: - Since industrial relations is a functional staff service, it must necessarily derive its authority from the line organization. This is ensured by providing that the industrial relations director should report to a top line authority to the president, chairman or vice president of an organization.
b) Sound Personnel Policies: - These constitute the business philosophy of an organization and guide it in arriving at its human relations decisions. The purpose of such policies is to decide, before any emergency arises, what shall be done about the large number of problems which crop up every day during the working of an organization. Policies can be successful only when they are followed at all the level of an enterprise, from top to bottom.
c) Adequate Practices should be developed by professionals: - In the field to assist in the implementation of the policies of an organization. A system of procedures is essential if intention is to be properly translated into action. The procedures and practices of an industrial relations department are the “tool of management” which enables a supervisor to keep ahead of his job that of the time-keeper, rate adjuster, grievance reporter and merit rater.
d) Detailed Supervisory Training :- To ensure the organizational policies and practices are properly implemented and carried into effect by the industrial relations staff, job supervisors should be trained thoroughly, so that they may convey to the employees the significance of those policies and practices. They should, moreover, be trained in leadership and in communications.
e) Follow-up of Results: - A constant review of an industrial relations programme is essential, so that existing practices may be properly evaluated and a check may be exercised on certain undesirable tendencies, should they manifest themselves. A follow up of turnover, absenteeism, departmental morale, employee grievances and suggestion; wage administration, etc. should be supplemented by continuous research to ensure that the policies that have been pursued are best fitted to company needs and employee satisfaction. Hints of problem areas may be found in exit interviews, in trade union demands and in management meetings, as well as in formal social sciences research.