Industrial Relations- an overview

The term industrial relations explain the relationship between employees and management which stem directly or indirectly from union-employer relationship. Industrial relations are the relationships between employees and employers within the organizational settings.

The field of industrial relations looks at the relationship between management and workers, particularly groups of workers represented by a union. Industrial relations are basically the interactions between employers, employees and the government, and the institutions and associations through which such interactions are mediated.

The term industrial relations have a broad as well as a narrow outlook. Originally, industrial relations were broadly defined to include the relationships and interactions between employers and employees. From this perspective, industrial relations cover all aspects of the employment relationship, including human resource management, employee relations, and union-management (or labor) relations.

Now its meaning has become more specific and restricted. Accordingly, industrial relations pertains to the study and practice of collective bargaining, trade unionism, and labor-management relations, while human resource management is a separate, largely distinct field that deals with nonunion employment relationships and the personnel practices and policies of employers.


Industrial relations got its roots in the industrial revolution and the spread of capitalism which created the modern employment relationship by spawning free labour markets and large-scale industrial organizations with thousands of wage workers. Kaufman, the Global Evolution of Industrial Relations.

As both societies wrestled with these massive economic and social changes, labour problems arose. Low wages, long working hours, monotonous and dangerous work, and abusive supervisory practices led to high employee turnover, violent strikes, and the threat of social instability and due to confluence of these event and ideas associated with rise of democratic governments in the western world of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It emerged from both negative and positive impulses

The negative aspect, industrial relations was a reaction against deplorable working condition and with unrepressed profit making and employee clout in the nine teeth century and twentieth century capitalism and this led to the deplorable situations a conflict between capital and labour and hardship for employee of that time

So we come to the conclusion that industrial relation was part of the reform wing. Industrial relations arose from the conviction that cordial relationship between workers and employer could be improvised through a combination of scientific discovery, education, legal reform.

Current situation

Therefore, the maintenance of a good human relationship is a must in today business environment, because in case of its absence the organizational structure may crumble. Employees constitute the most valuable assets of any organization.

Any neglect of the important factor is likely to result in increased cost of production in term of wage and salaries, benefits and services; working conditions, increased labour turn-over, absenteeism, indiscipline and cleavages, strikes and transfer on the ground of discontent and the like, besides deterioration in the quality of the goods produced and strained relations between labour and management.

The Germans practice co-determination which gives workers of the organization representation at the management of the companies these known as the law allows workers to elect representatives (usually trade union representatives) for the supervisory board of directors.

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