Trade unions are organisations of workers that seek to improve their members' pay and working conditions and are the main way workers can defend themselves against exploitation in the work place. They do this by negotiating with representatives of the workers' employer in a procedure called collective bargaining. Unions also promote better health and safety standards and staff training, as well as seeking other benefits for their members such as discount on goods purchased and the provision of crï¿½che facilities for working mothers. Trade Unions are able to obtain change through strength in numbers and they often take industrial actions like strikes. Some strikes are small scale and are confined to a specific area but some can escalate and very large scale and can end up being nation wide like the Fire Brigade strike.
However, Trade Unions are much less influential and powerful than they were approximately 30 years ago. AUTOMATION Automation is the use of automatic controls in the operation of machinery. In automation, electronic or mechanical devices do many of the tasks formerly done by people. Many consequences have occurred as a result of Automation in Britain, however, whilst some are advantages, others have presented some problems. It has resulted in a loss of skills such as sewing as this task can now be done by machinery. Workers do not need to retain and pass on skills to the next generation as automation is taking over. Unemployment rates have been increasing (also as a result of automation) as manual workers substituted for machinery, computers and robots.
However automation has put a stop to tiring, repetitive work on assembly work and has created exciting employment opportunities in the tertiary sector. Also, the quality of products will stay at a constant level as machines never get bored get bored or tired by carrying out dull, repetitive tasks. COMPUTERISATION (The I.T. Revolution) Modern Automated production methods were only made possible by the computers. In offices, computers have now replaced typewriters and manual storage. In this day and time, the electronic office has replaced the manual office and office workers now need to go through a training programme so they can learn to use software packages such as databases, spreadsheets and word processing in order for them to be run on computers.
Modern, new computer technology is now on the market such as: Part-time work is the major form of flexible work in the UK. In the late 20th century, almost 5.5 million employees, approximately a quarter of all employed people, worked part-time. In the consumerist society there is an increasing demand for employees who are willing to be flexible about the hours they work although flexible hours can be an uncertain business. Around 6 per cent of employees are in temporary jobs and a large number of those are on a fixed-term contract. More men than women fall into this category however, more women fall into the part-time work category. Temporary employees are used by around a quarter of all firms, mainly to deal with one-off tasks and for short-term cover.
Zero hours contracts are the modern, flexible phenomenon that have now come about where employers give workers no guaranteed working hours but instead makes them wait for a phone call which lets the employees know when they are needed. Around 12 per cent of the workforce are self-employed and although women's self-employment is growing fast, there are a lot more men than women in this category. This form of employment is the worst paid and protected and is the most insecure. It is a shocking fact that women have only gained civil and legal rights in the UK within the last century. And it was only 34 years ago (In 1970) that laws were passed that gained female's rights in the workplace and stopped sexual discrimination.
Nissan are a Japanese, multinational (have factories all over the world). Nissan is an example of a highly automated manufacturer. Comparing favourably with Nissan's numerous other factories throughout the world, Nissan, Sunderland, is highly productive, stable and the absenteeism among the workers is very low. By developing social groups or teams, an organisation or company can attempt to motivate staff and quality circles have been important motivators in past years. Quality circles (small groups of seven or eight people who meet up voluntarily on a regular basis to investigate, analyse and resolve quality related issues using problem-cracking methods), have been particularly effective in Japanese industry where it has been claimed that Quality circles members have been responsible for high productivity and loyalty.
'Kaizen' is a Japanese word and its literal meaning is 'continuous improvement' and with Nissan, this is gained by a quite slow and steady change and once it is achieved, it is maintained at that level until the next 'kaizen' takes place. Great, dramatic changes took place during the Industrial Revolution (during the 1700's and early 1800's) which has resulted in a massive transformation and development in the World of Work. These changes brought about new laws to protect children by stopping child labour and huge development in the tertiary sector. As more and more people became employed, Trades Unions were set up so workers could be defended and their exploitation by superior workers could be avoided.
Technological innovation has repeatedly changed manual working methods with the growth of computerisation and automation. The Nissan company in Sunderland proves how businesses can tackle and avoid the negative outcomes of automation. Because of the Industrial Revolution, we now work in a better, safer environment and as employers/employees, have more civil and equal rights.a