Industrial Relations and Technological Change

Technical change and industrial relations are becoming inextricably linked together. There is a need for a clear-sighted understanding of all the effects of technical change at the workplace. This would entail a conceptual framework in which the interaction between social and technical factors could be properly identified. At establishment level the innovation process typically involves a balancing of the social, economic and technological vectors of change. Three short case studies into the innovation process at one of the key manufacturing plants of a major British vehicle producer are presented, examining a Machine Monitoring System, Team Working and Maintenance Function. It is clear that the linked issues of work practices and labour productivity which are to the forefront of workplace industrial relations exert a significant impact on the economic consequences of technical change. Where technological innovation involves significant change in work practices, such change will be facilitated when the forms of co‐operation it demands and the costs and benefits it creates are congruent with the respective power and policies of management and unions.

  • Technological change (TC) is a term that is used to describe the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes.
  • Technology is an instrument of development.
  • It affects various aspects of economic and social life

Impact of Technological Change on Industrial Relations

The two major concerned factors are :

The impact of technological change on levels of employment and the nature of skills.

The growing resistance of trade unions to technological changes .

  • Trade Union Response
  • Fear of Unemployment
  • Redundancy and Problems of Retraining
  • Major Benefits of Improved Technology
  • Workers Hardest Hit by Modernization
  • Negotiated Change
  • Appropriate Training
  • Accent on Team Work
  • Supportive Management Practices

Rationalization & Automation


Implies a basic change in the structure and control of industrial activities. Its techniques can be applied to methods, material and men.


Technology itself controls the operations. The machine provides data from its operations and feeds it back to its own controls which governs the production process.

Response in India

(I) Cotton-textile- Workers accepted it.

 Introduced in the form of efficiency measures.

Additional strain & Inadequate increase in earnings.

(II)  Jute- International Competition

Progress slow, Dependence on foreign country for Raw Material

(III) Coal- Rationalization in larger mines, old methods in small mines

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