The workers’ participation in management may take the following forms:
Workers are made shareholders by allotting those shares in the company. They are employees as well as owners of the business concern. Thus, their participation in the management is automatically guaranteed.
Seat On Board Of Directors:
In this case the workers’ representative is given a seat on the boards of directors. In advanced countries like Britain and U.S.A., trade unions have already rejected this idea. It is generally felt that the workers do not understand the intricacies of management.
Moreover, their representatives being in minority may not have much say in the decision making whereas that decision will be applicable to all the employees. By remaining out of the board, they can keep a better check on the management.
The Sachar Committee studied the problems of workers’ participation in management and observed “Conditions must be created where the worker directors are able to play a helpful and effective role. It is apparent that as a member of the board, the worker director will familiarise himself with subjects with which he was not associated before. The training of the employees must, therefore, be immediately taken in hand”.
These committees have been regarded as the most effective social institution of industrial democracy. The need for their constitution has been emphasised as early as 1931 by the Royal Commission on Labour.
It was again emphasized by the Industrial Truce Resolution on 1947, which recommended their constitution in each industrial undertaking for the settlement of any dispute which may arise in future.
This recommendation was given effect to in the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947. Section 3 of the Act provides for these bodies in every undertaking employing 100 or more workmen.
These committees are consultative bodies. Their functions include discussion of conditions of work like lighting, ventilation, temperature and sanitation etc., and amenities like water supply for drinking purposes, canteen, medical services, safe working conditions, administration of welfare funds etc.
The works committee should not deal with matters connected with collective bargaining which are exclusively reserved for trade unions.
Joint Management Councils:
Joint committees for settlement of grievances or specific problems may be set up for promoting workers’ participation in management. Workers representatives sit with the management across the table to discuss matters which fall within its purview.
The main object of such councils is to give an opportunity to workers to understand the working of the industry and satisfy their urge for self-expression.
Should Joint Councils control policy? A policy is formulated against a background of numerous factors most, of them being out of the control of the management. In fact, the real interest of the workers participating in such councils is to see that its claims are given due weightage along with the claims of government, consumer and shareholders.
The participation is, therefore, on the job itself (formation of autonomous work group’s determination of production standards, control of pace and rhythm etc.) rather than in the policy making.
The origin of joint councils can be traced back to the First World War in Britain. To deal with the strikes, British Government appointed Mr. J.H. Whitley as the Chairman of the Committee for suggesting ways and means for bringing industrial peace.
It suggested workers’ participation in management as the only means for improving industrial relations. Under this scheme works councils, district councils and national councils were set up. These councils are popularly known as ‘Whitley Councils’.
The Eighth Annual Conference of the Indian Institute of Personnel Management summed up the prerequisites for success in joint consultation as follows:
(a) Works committees should be recommendatory in function;
(b) Some provision should be made to include supervisory levels in these consultative bodies;
(c) Information about the work done in a consultative body should be widely disseminated and steps should be taken to assure that the supervisory levels are not short-circuited;
(d) Subjects discussed in joint consultative bodies should not encroach in any way, on such spheres as are normally the subject of management-union negotiations;
(e) It is desirable that workers’ representatives in consultative bodies should be the employees of the organisation concerned;
(f) Measures like making it compulsory that the chairmanship of a joint consultative committee should go to employees’ representative and a management representative alternately, should be avoided.
Joint Management Councils must not indulge in collective bargaining. Certain issues like wages, bonus etc., should not be discussed in such councils. Usually their area of operation includes welfare and safety measures, vocational training, working hours and breaks, holidays etc.
Workers feel involved in the management especially when they are given a share in profits of the business.
Suggestion scheme may also be introduced for creating interest in the work by announcing a suitable reward for original and useful suggestions. Employees can put their suggestions in the suggestion boxes which are installed in the various departments.