Industrial Relations

Who are the main actors in the industrial relations system and describe precisely what they do. Abstract Jamaica like the rest of the Caribbean islands had had a difficult formation. Because of the problems of incorporating this Caribbean Society there have been by and large certain problems which have manifested its people and relationship its economy, political and social structures.

Jamaica labour relations are deeply rooted in the experiences of slavery and in the Plantation System. Where there has been a large concentration of unskilled workers with masters and authoritarian management where decision making was one way from management to the workers. As a result of this, working conditions and relationships became explosive at times to the point of years of management and worker conflicts here in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

The disturbances of the 1860’s in Jamaica and again in the 1930’s in Jamaica and the Caribbean are important to demonstrate how serious working condition had become in Jamaica. Today although the Plantation system and slavery have disappeared the same conflict between labour and capital continues to the point where the Caribbean governments have had to give serious thought and action to legislation to develop a sound labour relations and industrial system to promote harmony, fairplay and good relations between labour and capital.

The Tripartite System has been established to foster and promote industrial peace and uphold the Labour Relations Industrial Disputes Act and other labour laws. Arbitration is the final level a dispute can be taken after all other alternatives have been explored. Conciliation as provided by the Ministry of Labour is done through officers who act as third party to resolve disputes before or after industrial action.

Introduction The inherently dynamic nature of Organizations is that they are essentially made up of two (2) groups of workers, management such as executive level personnel including board of directors, presidents and individuals reporting to them and occupational groups for example line staff including rank and file, clerical, and maintenance employees. There are different types of businesses; namely family owned, publicly traded and privately owned companies.

Management seeks to make sure that the vision and mission of the Company is achieved and ensure that workers output are maximized and objectives/goals are reached. However, the intention of the entities and those of the workers may invariably come in conflict or contention from time to time.

Quite often workers are intimidated by management and therefore feel comfortable being represented by a Union as it allows for less personal interaction with those that are directly supervising them on a day to day basis. One important factor of having third party intervention in resolving disputes is that it allows for a more cordial and cooperative environment to prevail after disputes have been resolved. This helps tremendously in fulfilling managements’ and the organization objectives because it is management who has the primary objectives of the organization that have to be achieved.

Union is a legally recognized bargaining representative for a group of workers in an organization. One Union can represent a number of different groups within the same entity and similarly; varying groups can represent diverse categories of workers namely; supervisory, and administrative or production and maintenance staff. The advantage of the union is that as a third party it has the disposition to be more objective in seeking to resolve disputes in the work environment between the two primary parties, the workers and management.

In this established arrangement there is an innate contract between management and workers and that is quality work will be provided for a fair and reasonable level of compensation. Non-the-less there are occasions when there are difficulties in establishing what makes reasonableness or rights and justice for workers and consequently industrial relations issues arise.

Industrial relations can be aptly described as interaction between employers, employees, and the government; and the institutions and associations through which such interactions are mediated. Sometimes treated as the equivalent of labor relations, industrial relations generally consider the impact of these connections with humans and organizations. An industrial relations system overlaps with the other sub-systems in the society, namely, the economic and political systems. This implies that a nation’s industrial relations system is influenced by happenings in the political and economic realms.

This paper addresses industrial relations System from the perspectives of governments, managers and workers and precisely what they do.

When people think of industrial relations, they often think of contract negotiations between labor unions and managers of organizations. While labor unions are one component of industrial relations, this discipline also concerns relationships with people who manage and work for organizations. The role of government comes into play because they are responsible for protecting the rights of individuals and for ensuring certain privileges for corporations. In the case of organized labour, the Ministry of Labour regulates the relationships between all parties, organizations, employers and workers.

The governments regulate the interactions between workers and employers. Because industrial relations is an important aspect of managing human resources, public organizations and the courts ensure that employee rights are protected by employers under state laws. Examples of industrial relations issues include how many hours workers may work in a week and how much they earn, i.e., the minimum wage.

Conceptually the term Industrial Relations comprises of two terms namely industrial and relations, the former being any productive activity in which individuals or groups are engaged and the latter relates to relationships that exist within the industry between employers and workers.

This phenomenon has become one of the most delicate and complex problems of modern industrial society and is meant to concentrate on the interrelationship between actors in the workplace. Therefore its progress is impossible without cooperation of labourers and harmonious relationships and accordingly, it is in the interest of all stakeholders to create and maintain good relations between employees and employers.

Industrial Relations System Every industrial relations system involves three groups of actors:(1) Workers and their organizations, (2) Managers and their organizations, and (3) Governmental agencies concerned with the workplace and the work community. The system consists of the whole gamut of relationships between all parties which are managed by conflict/cooperation and is bound together by an ideology or understanding shared by all the players.

A sound industrial relations system is one in which relationships between management and employees and their representatives on the one hand, and between them and the State on the other, are more harmonious and cooperative than conflictual and creates an environment conducive to economic efficiency and the motivation, productivity and development of the employee and generates employee loyalty and mutual trust.

An industrial relations system encompasses the many rules and regulations related to the workplace. It includes the basic rules of employment in the organization being examined. These rules can include compensation, work hours, management structure and many other issues. It also includes everyone who participates in the development and management of the rules of employment in the system. These facets can include the employees, management, governments and employee organizations, such as unions.

The context surrounding a workplace is also part of the industrial relations system. This context can include the skills of the participating workforce, the available technology, economic conditions and political influences

Employers Employers possess certain rights in respect of workers. They have the right to employ and terminate them or make certain changes in their employment arrangements for example, relocating individuals, closing the operations or introducing technology and outsourcing functions. Top-level management must communicate and negotiate with employee organizations to avoid strikes, law-suits and protests.

This level of management interacts with employee organizations on a large-scale, as opposed to lower tiers of management which mostly rely on human resources to conduct employee interactions. Low-level management interacts with employees on an individual basis often through a human resources department.

All levels of management are involved in industrial relations, but low-level management has little or no say in big-picture decisions like employee compensation and benefit alterations. In an industrial relations negotiation, management represents the interest of the company and shareholders if applicable and must work with employees to develop compensation packages and policies that are acceptable for both parties.

When the relationship between management and employees gets sour, management may be forced to develop a contingency plan. If an employee organization initiates a large-scale strike or protest, management must act quickly and can either give-in to employee demands or find an alternate solution to avoid crippling profit losses.

One such case is the ……….Historically, management is depicted as a foe of employees and their organizations. While this stereotype is not entirely true, the media often portrays management as the persecutor and unions are usually cast as being the hero. This negative media attention and historical stereotype can lead to extremely damaging public relations, which can eventually cripple an entire industry.

Every industrial relations system creates a complex set of rules to govern the workplace and the work community. These rules may take a variety of form in different systems agreements, statutes, orders, decrees, regulations, awards, policies, practices and customs. The form of the rule does not alter its essential character: that is to define the status of the actors and to govern conduct of all the actors at the workplace and work community. The actors in an industrial relations system are regarded as confronting an environmental context at any one time.

The environment is comprised of three inter-related contexts: the technology, the market or budgetary constraints, and the power relations and statuses of the actors. Industrial relations is therefore the regulation of employment relations in any employment situation by the employer management or their organizations, the workers organizations and the third party, private or/and government acting as an umpire or a controller, the purpose of which is joint decision making for establishing job rules and job values and for the co-ordination of manpower resources for the attainment of the organizational objectives of the enterprise and the trade union as well as the state.

A country’s industrial relations system is for controlling and directing workers protest and for establishing job values, procedural and substantive, or rules for job values.

Employees: Workers seek to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. They exchange views with management and voice their grievances. They also want to share decision making powers of management. Workers generally unite to form unions against the management and get support from these unions.

Government: The government influences and regulates industrial relations through laws, rules, agreements, awards of court and the like. It also includes third parties and labor and tribunal courts. They also play a vital role in the industrial operations of the country. From economic development to taxation laws and labor policies, government actions help bring about a system of uniformity and policy within the workplace. The government's role in industrial relations is vitally important to the economy and establishes relationship between employers and trade unions.

The government also establishes laws that must be abided in the workplace. Some of these include taxation, minimum wage, holiday pay, termination and redundancy act, occupational health and safety and child labour laws. In an industrial work setting, many hazards present themselves to workers. One of the most effective watchdogs between the government and the employer is the Ministry of Labour.

An industrial relations system seeks to minimize workplace disputes, increase profits, create an environment of goodwill and mutual cooperation, and promote democracy throughout all levels of the organization. An employer that maintains good industrial relations contributes to worker productivity, creates high employee morale, and reduces the pollution caused by factory and technological waste products.

If industrial relations are good in the workplace, employees are more loyal and willing to work for the benefit of the entire organization. On the other hand, if industrial relations are bad, tension will grow between management and workers, creating a potentially hostile and dysfunctional work environment. The three main interpretations of industrial relations are unitarism, pluralism and Marxism.

Industrial relations describes 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. The top-level management of an industry represents financially powerful organizations, while employee unions wield strong voter/populist support.

These two types of organizations are among the most politically influential. Both groups petition and lobby to influence the outcome of elections or the creation of legislation. Governments have created extensive legislation designed to protect and regulate employees and employers. The field of industrial relations is constantly evolving to meet the demands of new legislation and regulations. The employers and employees of industries that provide an essential public service operate under heavier restrictions than members of other industries.

Either party must notify the government before striking or instituting a lockout. The government may forcefully settle a dispute if a compromise is not reached quickly. 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. The government has become an increasingly prominent figure in the industrial relations arena and whom management and unions often depend on to resolve disputes or change legislation to resolve a conflict.

Industrial relations is therefore meant to concentrate on the interrelationship between actors in the workplace. This interaction may involve only two actors for instance, employers or managers and workers. It may also involve their collectivities for instance, between a worker and his union, or between a branch of a union and its national body or between management and the stat. It must however be understood that industrial relations vary across plant, enterprise, industry, regional and national boundaries.

Industrial relations may vary according to the external factor which determines for instance, its structure. Variation may result from the method adopted by the system. For instance, an industrial relations system based on collective bargaining would be different from that based on overriding state action or one which is based on tripartite decision making in which the three parties participate as equal partners. All industrial relations involve job value regulations which vary from unilateral management or employer decision to collective bargaining, tripartite decision making to complete regulation.

Each of these methods is not exclusive of the other. An industrial relations system can be a combination of two or more of these methods which may explain the variation between one system and another.

A dominant factor determining industrial relations system is the political environment which gives rise to the type of law governing industrial relations system and the process of management pervading the situation.

This factor is the central focus of the present discussion. That is, the interrelationship between democratic environment and industrial relations system of a society

Employee unions and organizations may quickly instigate a confrontation with management if they hear of possible (or actual) layoffs in an industry. Conflict arises when unions protest management's claim that they need to layoff employees to save money (rather than cutting expenses elsewhere in a company's budget, e.g., disproportionate salary and benefits packages for top-level management).

Trade unions, also known as labor unions in the United States, are organizations of workers in a common trade who have organized into groups dedicated to improving the workers' work life. A trade union generally negotiates with employers on behalf of its members, advocating for improvements such as better working conditions, compensation and job security. These unions play an important role in industrial relations -- the relationship between employees and employers. Function

* In industrial relations, trade unions represent the interest of their members. By contrast, an employer represents his own interests, as well as the interests of those with financial stakes in the company. However, because both trade unions and employers can only earn a livelihood through the continued viability of thebusinesses that they work for and own, both parties will defend the interests of their industry. Effects

* The advocacy of trade unions has provided a number of improvements in the working conditions of many workers. For example, in the coal industry, advocacy by the UMA has led to safer working conditions for coal miners.

However, given trade unions work in the interests of their members specifically, rather than the companies that employ these workers, unions can sometimes advocate policies that, while beneficial to workers in the short term, may harm the company's long-term health. A labor union, also commonly called a trade union, is an organization that works to advance the needs and desires of workers across various industry sectors.

Labor unions traditionally represent workers in heavy manual labor jobs such as manufacturing and construction. Typically, an employer must recognize the union or employees must vote to organize through a majority vote before any one employee can join a union. Because the manufacturing and heavy labor sectors have been shrinking in recent decades thanks to outsourcing and a focus on technology and service jobs, the amount of unionized workers has declined substantially. Operation of a Labor Union

* When a company where a union represents the workforce hires an employee, the union often requires the employee to join. Often, the union requires a moderate one-time fee to join, and continued membership requires periodic payments known as union dues. Workers usually elect representatives to communicate with the union heads. Workers at each company have periodic union meetings, and the union itself has meetings where representatives from all affiliated companies meet to discuss their issues.

The union then works with the companies that employ its members to raise wages, benefits, and otherwise look after its members. Effects of a Labor Union

* The purpose of a labor union is to give bargaining power to workers through collective action. This is known as collective bargaining. Historically, workers had little power to negotiate better work conditions, wages or benefits with their employers and became something of indentured servants.

The labor union movement tipped the scales in the other direction. Now, many union workers enjoy higher wages and better benefits than non-union workers. In some cases, their pay and benefits can become a burden on the competitiveness of their companies. Other work rules, such as protections against being fired, that unions have won through negotiation can affect productivity. In short, unions are usually good for employees, but offer a mixture of benefits and drawbacks to employers.

Trade union representatives work directly with unionized employees. They play a pivotal role between management staff and union members. Representatives are trained to deal with workplace issues, answer company policy questions and maintain harmonious work environments. 1. Grievance Procedure

* Trade union representatives handle employee grievance issues. Some of their duties include submitting a grievance on behalf of an employee, attending employer grievance meetings and debating whether the grievance is warranted. Conflict Resolution

* Trade union representatives listen to employee workplace issues and work toward resolving problems. For example, a union representative might call a meeting with management before filing a grievance on behalf of a union employee. Information Agent

* Trade union representatives act as information agents and, in most cases, can explain every section of the union contract. The job requires educating the employer and the union members on contract stipulations and company policy as they relate to the union. Collective Bargaining Negotiator

* During union contract negotiations, trade union representatives facilitate meetings, supervise the contract-voting process and attend meetings with employers.

* The two major movements have been the socialist movement of Michael Manley, and the free-market, pro-American faction typified by Edward Seaga. The earliest trade union disputes occurred in the sugar sector of the island's economy, one of its most lucrative exports. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Jamaican government promoted some limited industrialization, which led to the creation of an industrial proletariat seeking a minimum wage, job security and good working conditions. This faction became Michael Manley's base. History and Ideas

* The theory of Jamaican organized labor is independence. National independence must be connected to both economic independence and the security of work, pay and benefits. The political power of the unions has been diluted by near constant splits and schisms among union leaders. Even under the socialist Prime Minister Manley, labor made little headway due to constant debt, American hostility and the stresses of industrialization. Labor Issues

* In modern Jamaica, there are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of trade union disputes a year. As these unions have a major political role, workers on the island are aware of their political force, and seek to use it in any way possible. There are dozens of important unions on the island, each with its own specific political orientation.

The government controls the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, which is the main state body dealing with labor problems. Traditionally, Jamaican independence is connected with active and highly political organized labor. The result has been a struggling economy an chronic unemployment of over 15 percent since 2000. Modern Role

* In 2009, Minister of Labor Pearlnel Charles made a speech to the main Jamaican Federation of Trade Unions. He laid out the most beneficial role of Jamaican unions. He stated that social integration of labor with the island's culture, tradition and economic development is the main role for labor -- the idea is to democratize the workplace. Specifically, organized labor should continue to protect its gains in minimum wages, fair income and social security. Full employment is the true long-term goal for Jamaican labor. Ultimately, Jamaican labor should take the lead in protecting jobs in the face of global recession and the lack of a robust American market. *