Industrial or employment relations is a multidisciplinary academic field that studies employment relationships. In this article, we will be analyzing this field of study and its takeaway will be discussed. The complex interrelations between employers and employees, labor union/labor/trade union employer organizations and the state. The newer name, “employment relations” is increasingly taking precedence because “industrial relations” is often seen to have relatively narrow connotations. This included non-industrial relationship as well. This is sometimes seen as paralleling a trend in the separate but related discipline of human resource management.
The best of best characterizations of industrial relations recognize that its multifaceted interaction among management, workers, and the government. Interaction between these three parties are very different and has its own nature, depending on the goals of these sectors.
Naturally, objectives established at the management levels are to ensure productivity of the company and reaching profits and costs management as well. In distinction to this, workers are concerned with securing safe jobs, great salaries, and benefits, fulfilling personal goals in the workplace. Finally, the government’s goals involve harmonizing rights of labor and management.
In the U.S. private sector, industrial relations are governed by the National Labor Relations Act (1935, as amended). “There is a three-tier structure of industrial relations in the United States. Local unions deal with the daily interaction with employers at the workplace level. Typically, these local unions are affiliated with a national union such as the Service Employees International Union, which, as of 2005, is the largest national union in the United States. Labor federations, like the AFL-CIO, serve as umbrella organizations for national unions and provide overall direction for the labor movement, as well as services like training and government lobbying. However, the lack of advancement of organized labor in recent years has caused some national unions to leave the AFL-CIO and attempt to form a competing labor federation.”
If we take a peek at history, the need to understand industrial relations did not exist, and most employers kept their employees at arm’s length. Green Revolution, Industrial Revolution, and not only this but many such protests paved the pathway to set importance on industrial relationship. From being “slaves” to being “employees” the term changed with time. labourers started retaliating the way they were treated and fought for fair wage and rights. “The year 1954 saw important developments in the field of industrial jurisprudence. A New York arbitrator held that it is not permissible to fire a waiter because he is writing a book about the customers and the owner of the restaurant. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that a bartender, hit by flying beer steins, may collect workmen’s compensation. An Australian tribunal held that compensation was proper in the case of a dislocated jaw suffered while yawning at work. There were also important new laws and administrative orders. Boxers appearing in professional bouts in Indiana were required to take non-communist oaths. The town of Waterloo, Nebraska, forbade barbers to eat onions between 7 A.M. and 7. P.M.”
Three features of American industrial relations are distinct irrespective of any country it is compared with:
- “The relatively high development of local unions including a considerable degree of local autonomy.
- The prevalence of local or company bargaining rather than industry-wide bargaining.
- The considerable degree to which the rights of workers are prescribed by terms of agreements between unions and employers.”
United States trade unions sets the rights and duties for employees, labor unions and employers in the United States. Needless to say, labor laws grant employees in certain sectors the right to unionize and allows employers and employees to engage in certain workplace related activities in order to further their demands for changes in the employers-employee relationship. “According to the International Labor Organization, Americans typically work 10 more weeks each year than their European counterparts. As the world’s largest economy, the US economy is distinct from other advanced economies in that it has limited central government intervention in favor of a free market, private enterprise system. The US labor movement is still divided between industrial and craft unions. And US companies do not typically use employer organizations to advance their interests in dealing with workers.”
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 Ackers 2002; Kaufman 2004, p. 94.  Industrial relations - Wikipedia  Lewis, Thornhill & Saunders 2003, p. 3.  Banfield & Kay 2008, p. 114.  Industrial Relations - levels, system, workplace, system (referenceforbusiness.com)  Ibid.  1955-167.pdf (naarb.org)  Ibid.  Industrial Relation of USA (slideshare.net)  Ibid.  United States: Industrial relations profile | Eurofound (europa.eu)
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