Industrial relations adversarial approach has the effect of putting employers and unions into direct confrontation. This brings both positive and negative results.
It is important that employers and employee unions have adequate knowledge of every important aspect of industrial relations.
The good thing about the IR adversarial approach is that the rights of employees are protected. Thus, the important role of unions, assuring the relevance of their existence.
However, the conflict between organization and union can escalate. And this does not bring much benefit to any party.
Union Versus Management
The industrial relations adversarial approach can bring about events that are either good or not so conducive to workplace harmony.
By adopting this approach, your organization respects the position of unions as employees' representatives in conflict resolution.
This is believed to strike a balance between the power of management and that of employees. It is accepted that employees are in a weaker bargaining position if they act individually. Employers may take advantage of non-unionised workers to break or weaken unions.
But workplace harmony may compel employers not to take unfair advantage of its stronger bargaining position as against employees. By accepting the existence of unions, it would appear that employers are not proceeding along this path.
Escalation of conflicts
The undesirable result of the industrial relations adversarial approach is that conflicts can escalate. Both management and union may adopt tactics in order to gain the upper hand over conflicts that arise.
This is not good for your organization and people.
What Can Happen In Conflicts?
Your employees may:
On the other hand, you have the options of taking actions to protect your organization against actions of employees and union.
Remember that by doing this, it may worsen the situation.
In any event, do not take any hasty decision.
Do not take action that results in a position of "no return." Industrial Relations adversarial approach does not mean you must win at all costs.
However, if negotiation breaks down, you can do certain things to protect your interests.
However, try hard to avoid the sort situation like the one that happened in the United Kingdom a few decades ago when the employer had to face a militant miners union's leadership.
Why do Unions Continue to Exist?
The strength of a union can increase. It can wane. The economic, industrial and political climate influence this. Legislation may play a hand.
Get to know the reasons why employees join unions. But this must not send a signal that there is no place for unions in your organization.
Your organization cannot prevent employees from becoming members of unions. There is legislation that provides for this.
Make attempts to truly understand the role of unions. A good understanding of their roles and the apprehension of employees over their position as employees can at least help your organization pinpoint areas where it can make improvements.
This helps to assure your union and its members that you are not an "unfair" employer.
There are various reasons why employees join unions.
The existence of unions provides employees with the opportunity to exercise their freedom of choice and expression. In this respect, the industrial relations adversarial approach contains some elements of democratic principles.
But it is good to keep in mind the destructive nature of the Industrial Relations adversarial approach.
Productivity Under a Unionized-Work Environment Productivity is a perennial concern of organizations. It is their primary objective to succeed.
Whether or not there is a union in your organization, productivity remains important. This is the case whether your organization has adopted the industrial relations adversarial approach or some other methods.
Organizational success benefits union and its members. Make your people and union understand this.
Effective Channel of Communication
Ensure that an effective communication channel exists between unions, its members and your organization's position.
The Collective Agreement helps to regulate the relationship between management and union. This helps members to understand where they stand in their relationship with your organization as employer.
Good communication can bring about a good working relationship. This is necessary for the well-being of your organization and employees.
You can take certain actions to maintain good understanding and working relationships between your management and union and employees at all times.
Create and Maintain Good Working Relationship with Your Union
One of the important reasons for managing well the relationship with unions is the danger of the dispute deteriorating further. In the worst case scenario, there is no choice but to refer the matter to an industrial tribunal.
Under certain situation, neither your organization nor the union can prevent this. This is in the nature of industrial relations adversarial approach.
Once the matter is presented before the industrial tribunal, all eyes are focused on your organization. It is fine if the decision is in your favor. But you are never sure what can happen.
Effective management of employer-employee conflicts is crucial.
The industrial relations adversarial approach need not affect any of your strategic plans to make your organization succeed.
Even during times of problematic relationship with union, always remember to act fairly and justly.
Addressing effectively the management-union relationship is part and parcel of strategic human resource management.
The adverse effects of the industrial relations adversarial approach continues to this day, creating hardships for a lot of people and causing financial losses.
These are some of unionism events:
Whatever the reasons for the industrial actions, the question is whether there are ways available for the important players to avoid such actions.
This is not to question, however, the right of workers to go on strike according to the law. However, the decision to take industrial action is a serious thing. It is not something that people can take lightly.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the government had launched a review into legal implication of unions' tactics and the role of employers in industrial disputes.This is not welcome news. Perhaps, it is time to look for a better way to handle workplace disputes.