HRM523 Advanced Studies In Industrial Relations

HRM523 Advanced Studies In Industrial Relations

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HRM523 Advanced Studies In Industrial Relations

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HRM523 Advanced Studies In Industrial Relations

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Course Code: HRM523
University: Charles Sturt University is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Australia

In this assessment, you will be continuing your detailed examination of the NSW train workers’ dispute of January 2018.1. Thinking of the major parties that were involved in this dispute, and reports in the public domain on the processes that were followed, what were the specific points of conflict that were evident? For each point of conflict that you identify, explain the exact interrelationship among the parties and processes that was causing the conflict.2. Using relevant theories that you have studied in this subject, locate the positions taken by each of the parties in these points of conflict and then recommend what adjustments could have been made by each party to prevent the dispute.

An industry is way more than just a system wherein employers and employees come in close contact with each other, governed by contractuality and professionalism. There used to be a time when the element of rationalism used to overwhelmingly enshroud the humane element in the production process, which reduced employees to machines having life and emotions. With the passage of time, this lacuna has been given due importance, and adequate steps have been taken on part of the employers to eradicate dehumanization of economic pursuits. However, when persistent pleas for bringing about changes in the work, to the employers have failed to fetch the desired results, the employees have resorted to necessary means to force the employers make work conditions conducive. This leads to the inference that industrial relations cannot be entered into, or managed without taking the human element into consideration, and also that it cannot be defined purely in economic or commercial terms (McKeown, 2017). In this report, the discussion shall thus be devoted on this dichotomous definition of industrial relationship against the backdrop of the railway strike that had taken place at New South Wales, in the year 2018. The subsequent sub parts of the report shall be consisting a short background in form of the narration of the incident. Following that shall be an analysis of the incident against the theoretical framework. The conclusion shall be consisting of some recommendations to the problems, as alternative methods of looking into the problem.
Background: An account of the New South Wales Railway Strike, 2018
Hardly had the first month of the year come to an and, when the New South Wales Government was threatened with a twenty four hour long strike by the workers of the railway connection at Sydney. A sense of apprehension among the masses had come about that the rail and tram network was likely to be severely disrupted and that shall cause passengers a great deal of difficulty to reach to their workplace. The strike was planned by the railway workers because of several issues which they were facing and their consistent petitions to the authorities and the government had fallen on deaf years. The workers were demanding for an increase in wages as the number of employees were less and the work load naturally had piled up on the existing number of employees. An expectation of six percentage of increase in the amount of wages was being harboured by the employees so that their wage rate reaches a level of parity with the state railway employees. Alongside that an overall improvement in the working conditions was also voiced. They were also demanding that the railway managing authorities easen their stance by lifting up the ban on overtime (Byrnes, & Advantage, 2018). These were the very basic demands on part of the workers to which they wanted to draw the attention of the concerned authorities, hence they were planning out on a strike on the twenty ninth day of the month of January. The news of it was disseminated by the employees on the twenty fifth of that month. Alarmed at it, the Fair Works Commission had decided to enter into negotiations with the workers so as to bring about a solution, and the daily commuters be spared the horror of inconveniences in travelling. The strike however never materialized and to that the railway employees had expressed their dismay that their right to bargain with the authorities had been handicapped even when their right to fair work conditions were severely violated (Osborne, 2018).
That was as far as the dispute was all about. Now the discussion shall focus on the negotiations that had successfully dissuaded the employees from going on a strike. The Deputy Commissioner of the Fair Work Commission, Mr. Jonathan Hamberger had opined that the strike would have dealt a heavy blow to the economy of the country, as well as on the safety concerns, had no measure been taken to curtail its occurrence. The Transport Minister of the province of New South Wales, Mr. Andrew Constance had offered the workers a 2.75 percentage of increase in the wages instead of the 6 percentage as demanded by the workers. The proposed percentage of increase was also supposed to be inclusive of the package offering allowance to travel by buses, trains and trams for free of cost alongside a one-off payment of 1000 dollars. The railway employees were supposed to cast their vote either in favour of the offer or against (McIlroy, 2018).
However, the net result of the poll generated was negative, indicating that the workers were not satisfied with the offer. Therefore the only change that could be successfully brought about was the lifting of the ban on overtime, apart from it no other constructive changes could be effected. The reaction of the Head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Sally McManus was that of an expression of utter helplessness. Given the situation of Australia which sought to curtail nearly all trade union activities, making it one of the countries in the world where the legal system is designed in such a way, that the interests of the employers get taken care of at the cost of jeopardizing that of the employees. He had also expressed with a sense of disgust that despite the workers following all the rules and regulations they were made to face unfair treatment, attributing it to the reason behind the low rate of wages of the employees. The prevalent situation had necessitated a change in the system by increasing the rate of wages and being more sensitive to the requirements of the workers. The power of the Fair Work Commission to arrest any industrial action under the pretext of safeguarding the interests of the general public, has been considered with a critical outlook (Warren, 2018). That is something quite natural as such unregulated power to the Commission has acted against the interests of the employers who have been denied of very basic demands.
Analysis of the situation against the Theoretical Framework
Connection between the Parties involved and the Processes in the Conflict
Basically, the relationship shared between the employer and employees can be defined from the Pluralist Perspective, which entails that a set of strict rules and regulations govern the dynamics of relationships. It is evident from the fact that the right to launch protests is subject to the stringencies of the Fair Work Commission. However the agitating spirit of the employees reaching the point of calling for a strike gives the relationship a Marxist undertone, definable in terms of class struggle between the employers and employees (Blair, 2018).
Industrial Relationship can be defined from two perspectives, Cooperative and Conflictual. The Cooperative perspective defines industrial relationship as governed by negotiations and agreements in a peaceful manner, since employers treat the employees in a humane way. However, to define the relationship between the employers and the employees in terms of the decision to go on a strike, the Conflictual Perspective shall be more appropriate, as the situation had escalated to the level when the employers had to resort to something radical in order to get their demands fulfilled, since peaceful processes bore no fruitful result at all (Shields et al., 2015).
With regard to the parties involved in the conflict situation, it can be possible by defining it against the features of both the Pluralist and the Radical Perspectives of Industrial Relationship. The four parties that were involved in the conflict situation were- the Management, the Employees, the Union, and the State.
According to the Pluralist perspective, the role of the management in the conflict situation should have been to not just cater to the interests of the organization, but also of the employees who are a part of it. The management should be able to reconcile the interests of both the employers and of the employees, because both of them are complementary to each other. The Radical view on the other hand demonizes the management as the one to perpetrate exploitation on the workers and deprive them of their due share of remuneration. The organizations are in the conception of this perspective, an agent which is solely motivated to derive profits out of exploiting the workers (Bamber et al., 2015). The conflict situation clearly suggests that the management should have acted the way the Pluralist Perspective suggests, only then the grieveances would never have taken the shape of provocating the employees to the extent of waging a full-fledged clash. The railway employees had been pushed to the extent of calling for a strike because the management had an attitude as outlined by the Pluralist Perspective. The strike was dissuaded from being fulfilled on the grounds that it could have caused a great deal of damage to the economy and to the securitarian concerns of the country, which shows that the
The Pluralist perspectives hold that the employees must not act selfishly. They must give due importance to the personal interests, as well as to that interests of the organization as well. It emerges from the basic premise that the benefit of the employee shall reflect in the benefit of the organization, and the benefit of the organization, shall benefit the employees, vice-versa. Basically, the interests of the organization and of the employees are intertwined with each other, and the harm of one shall have a cascading effect on the other. The Radical perspective on the other hand holds the view that the position of the employees in an organization is unavoidably very low. Only the employees themselves can redeem themselves of their predicament by realizing of it and thereby taking adequate actions in form of rebelling against the authorities (Bamber et al., 2015). On analyzing the conflict situation which had reached its peak point when the New South Wales Railway Workers had threatened to go on a strike, one can guess that the conduct of the employees could not be like that of the Pluralist perspective since the Railway company did not give adequate attention to the interests of the workers. Despite repeated pleas from the end of the employers, the management did not bother to increase the wages, or make working conditions better. Naturally, these made the employees feel subordinate to the management. The action of the employees to go to the extent of calling for a strike is exactly as the Radical perspective expects of workers to do, that is of rebelling against the authorities.
The Pluralist perspective holds that the Unions must be judicious enough while launching agitation against the management. They have all the rights to demand for their rights, but at the same time they must also be prepared for accepting the compromise. It is so, as it may not always be possible for the management to meet all the demands of the workers. Moreover, it must also not always be assumed that the demands of the workers are always justified. The Radical perspective holds that the Unions must be the agents which shall help the employers in their struggle against the management, to get the interests of the workers served (Conway et al., 2016). On analyzing the conflict situation, one can find elements to relate with from both the perspectives. From the Pluralist perspective, one can relate to the aspect of compromise. The offer provided by the Transport Minister was definitely less, but it was however not bad. The employees could have accepted the economic remuneration. However, that would have meant an undue compromise on their part as their wages had not been increased, it had remained stagnant for a long time. The Radical Perspective says that the Unions must provide help to the employees, but that was something which was not possible. That was however not possible since Australia has strict laws which curtail the activities of the Unions categorically.
Finally, comes the role of the State. Both the Pluralist and the Radical perspective holds the opinion that the state is supposed to look after the interests of the workers and of the oppressed, so that they do not fall victim to the surreptitious, corrupt and exploitative tactics of the powerful ones. The Pluralist perspective harps on the aspect of the State being the facilitator of negotiations (Conway et al., 2016). In the conflict situation however it was quite visible that the State did try to ensure that a deal is arrived at by creating conditions for negotiations. However, the State really did not pay adequate attention to the interests of the workers as the only worthwhile achievement that could be reached was that of lifting the ban on overtime facility. The monetary hike being offered was not enough. So the State technically did not live up to its promise of standing by the oppressed, rather it has taken the side of the oppressors by curbing the strike.
This goes as far as the analysis of the situation is concerned by placing it against the backdrop of the theoretical assumptions.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Having reached at the end of the report, it must be said that the spirit of any democratic country lies in the guarantee to freely form associations and its recognition by the State. The State should facilitate such activities as long as they are within the bounds of justified grounds, not curb them. The vibrancy of a Civil Society is one of the hallmarks of a democratic country in its truest sense. With regard to the internal dynamisms of the Railway Company, the situation could have been avoided had adequate steps been taken to address the grieveances of the employees. No such literary evidence hints at the fact that the employees had raised a hue and cry at the drop of a hat, which shows that they had justified grounds to create the issue. Unfortunately, all attempts failed and the employees ended up to be the sufferers.
Bamber, G. J., Lansbury, R. D., Wailes, N., & Wright, C. F. (2015). International and Comparative Employment Relations: Globalisation, Regulation and Change. London: Sage.
Blair, S. (2018). Unionists call for right to strike. Green Left Weekly, (1177), 5.
Byrnes, J., & Advantage, W. (2018). NSW rail crisis averted, but how would a major disruption affect your practice?.
Conway, E., Fu, N., Monks, K., Alfes, K., & Bailey, C. (2016). Demands or resources? The relationship between HR practices, employee engagement, and emotional exhaustion within a hybrid model of employment relations. Human Resource Management, 55(5), 901-917.
McIlroy, J. (2018). We can fix the public transport crisis. Green Left Weekly, (1168), 12.
McKeown, T. (2017). Job Quality in Australia: Perspectives, Problems and Proposals, edited by Angela Knox and Chris Warhurst. The Federation Press, Annandale, NSW, 2015, 208 pp., ISBN: 9781862879669, $60.00, hardback. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(3), 680-682.
Osborne, S. (2018). Right to strike’very nearly dead’. Newsmonth, 38(3), 4.
Shields, J., Brown, M., Kaine, S., Dolle-Samuel, C., North-Samardzic, A., McLean, P., … & Plimmer, G. (2015). Managing employee performance & reward: Concepts, practices, strategies. Cambridge University Press.
Smith, K. (2018). Fix NSW transport rally. Green Left Weekly, (1170), 4.
Warren, K. (2018). Present tense: Change the rules!. Newsmonth, 38(3), 4.

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