- The System Approach:
Industrial relations system is a sub-system of the wider society or the total social system. It is a mixture of traditions, customs, actions, reactions and interactions between the parties. An industrial relations system is an integral and non-separable part of the organization structure. It may be conceived at different levels- workplace, industrial, regional or national. It basically consists of totality of power interactions of participant’s management and trade union at a workplace.
There has been comprehensive research made by different sociologists to study industrial relations as a system.
Robert Cox developed an interesting framework to relate different industrial relations system to their specific environments. He has developed 9 systems in his book, “Robert W. Cox’s Approaches to a Futurology of Industrial Relations (1971).”
(i) The Primitive Market System.
(ii) The Peasant-Lord System.
(iii) The Small Manufactury System.
(iv) The Life-Time Commitment System.
(v) The Bipartite System.
(vi) The Tripartite System.
(vii) The Corporatist-Bureaucratic System.
(viii) The Mobilising System.
(ix) The Socialist System.
Robert Dubin is regarded as the harbinger of the system approach to industrial relations. He observed that collective bargaining is the greatest social invention that has institutionalized industrial conflict. He used inter-group (union and management) power interaction concept of industrial relations. He found inverse relationship between union militancy and the range of bargaining issues.
Kenneth Walker developed a multi-dimensional model of industrial relations system. He found inadequacy of psychological models of human behaviour at work situation as the biggest barrier in smooth industrial relations system. He suggested a more adequate model to consider human being as:
(i) Calculating and emotional.
(ii) Co-operative and conflicting.
(iii) Expressive and instrumental.
Richard Peterson presented industrial relations model from managerial point of view. He explicitly relied on the system approach for building a system model for industrial relation as a function of the organisation.
Among the various models developed by a number of writers, to study industrial relations as a system, the most outstanding has been the contribution made by Prof. John T. Dunlop of Harvard University. He presented and analytical framework of industrial relations in his book titled ‘Industrial Relations System’ (1958). He broadened the concept of industrial relations from collective bargaining to the full spectrum of present day industrial relations. He attempted to develop a pioneering model of industrial relations with a set of analytical tools.
According to Prof. Dunlop, “An industrial relations framework is designed to be applicable at once to three broad areas of industrial relations experience, namely:
(i) Industrial relations within an enterprise, industry or other segment of a country and a comparison among such sectors;
(ii) Industrial relations within a country as whole and a comparison among countries.
(iii) Industrial relations as a totality in the course of economic development.”
- Oxford Approach:
Flanders, the exponent of this approach, considered industrial relations system as a study of the institutions of job regulations. The institution of job regulation was categorised by him as internal and external. Internal regulation being code of work rules, internal procedure of joint consultations, wage structure, grievance handling etc. Trade unions were considered as external regulation.
The rules of the industrial relations system were determined through the rule making process of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining was considered as apex to the industrial relations system. Collective bargaining as per this approach is considered as a political institution involving power relationships between the employer and the employees.
- The Industrial Sociology Approach:
An industrial sociologist, G. Margerison, holds the view that the core of industrial relations is the nature and development of the conflict itself. Margerison developed two conceptual levels of industrial relation-one at intra-plant level and the other outside the firm.
At Intra-plant level, there could be three types of conflicts- distributive, structural and human relations. The major causes of such conflicts are related to job contentment, work task and technology. To resolve the conflicts, Margerison suggested collective bargaining, human-relations management analysis and structural analysis of socio-technical systems. At the second level i.e., outside the firm, the main concern is with the conflicts not resolved at intra-organisational level.
Beside this in an industry consists of a group of employees coming from different caste, colour, culture and family backgrounds having different attributes, such as; personality, educational background, emotions, sentiments, likes dislikes, ideologies, attitudes and behaviour. These all traits of a human personality create problems of conflicts and competition among members of the industrial society. The concept of inter-personal and inter-group relations posing a problems of industrial relations.
The impact of industrial relations by these social factors cannot be ignored. Social factors like workers attitude, perceptions of the society, value system, customs, traditions, status symbols, acceptance or resistance to change and one’s degree of tolerance have got a direct impact on industrial relations.
Industrial Relations are being affected by social factors or consequences like:
(ii) Social mobility.
(iii) Housing and Transport Problems.
(iv) Disintegration of family structure.
(v) Stress and strain.
(vi) Gambling, drinking, prostitutions and other social evils. Industrial relations have changed with the change in society.
The industrial worker which had migratory character has now stabilized in industrial centres and has got an urban taste.
- The Social Action Model:
The social action model has its origin in Weberian sociology. The social approach stresses the way in which an individual influences the social structure and makes the society. This approach attempts to study the behavioural influences. Behaviour at work gets influenced by the quality of human relations management and the nature of technology. As industries develop, a new industrial cum social pattern emerge which provides new behavioural pattern and new techniques of handling human resources.
Industrial peace, itself, may not ensure healthy industrial relations. There may not be strikes for a long time in an industrial unit, but there may be internal tensions that affects the social actions of the employees and may corrode the essence of industrial relations. New values have been added about the role of industry and unions in modern society. The role of the State and political parties have also been redefined in the light of these changes. These social actions changes the inter-relationship between the interest groups. These actions are the basis for conflicts or consensus.
- The Psychological Approach:
“Mason Haire” has given the psychological approach to industrial relations. According to him, the problems in industrial relations arise due to perceptions of the management, unions and the workers. These perceptions may be about the person, the situation or the issues involved in the conflict. The perceptions of management and the trade union may differ because the same position may appear entirely different to the other party. Some aspects of the situation may be magnified or suppressed or distorted by either party. Hence conflicts and clashes may arise.
The amount of satisfaction the workers get from this job depends upon many factors like the nature of his work, his attitude towards work, working conditions, wages, job security relationship with the union and the co-workers and the behaviour of the boss etc.
If the worker is not satisfied with the prevailing conditions, he may be dragged to dissatisfaction and frustrations. Frustrations get expressed in aggressive actions like strikes, arson, looting, destruction of property etc. Hence as per the psychological approach, industrial peace is the result of correct perceptions and attitudes of both the parties i.e., the management and the workers.
Their findings are:
(i) The management must accept the concept of collective bargaining in the organisation.
(ii) The management must ensure that there is mutual trust and confidence between management and the trade union.
(iii) Even the unions must fully accept the organisations as their private ownership and should do all possible things to enhance the goodwill and prosperity of the organisation.
(iv) Neither the management nor the trade unions should adopt legalistic and highly rigid approach while doing collective bargaining.
(v) There must be constant consultation and information sharing between the management and the worker’s union.
(vi) It must be ensured that the grievances are promptly settled at the level of plant/workshop.
(vii) It would be highly beneficial if the grievances handling procedure could be flexible, simple and informal.
(viii) Management should not interfere in the internal matters of the union.
(ix) The environmental factors do not by themselves bring peace but they create conditions to develop it, so it must never be ignored.
(x) It must be understood that Industrial peace is the result mainly of attitudes of the two parties rather than any other external factors/forces. So all attempts should be made to keep the attitude highly positive and accommodative.
- Human Relation Approach:
The most important part of any organization is human being. Machine, material and money are secondary. “Take care of your employees. They automatically take care of your organisations”. Every human being wants freedom of speech, self-respect, and to enjoy all those facilities for which he is entitled for.
But when an employee is not provided a handsome package of financial and non-financial incentives and is not properly treated during his stay at the organisation it leads to tension, conflicts and ill-will. The problem of industrial relation in an industry arises out of tension which is created because of employer’s pressure and worker’s reactions and protests.
Tension among the employees affects their work culture and output which gradually affects the entire industry and ultimately it may lead to spoilage of work culture at national level. Therefore management should avoid these situations and expert services of other behavioural scientists should be taken if necessary to deal with such situations.
To avoid disputes, it is very essential to understand human behaviour which is pre-requisite for industrial peace. Management must learn and know the basic needs of the man and should always try to win the people. Because these are the employees who can run or ruin the business, They Can Make You or Can Break You.
There are broadly two types of human needs:
(i) Economic Needs: Which include basic needs for food, shelter and clothing for oneself and his dependent. These needs can be satisfied by increasing his wages.
(ii) Psychological Needs: Needs for security from life hazards and uncertainties created by new challenges and new relationships. These are deep rooted and psychological in nature which disturb an employee’s peace of mind.
The human relations approach highlights certain policies and techniques to improve the morale, efficiency and job satisfaction of employees. The key to industrial peace lies with the quality of human relations in the industry. Human relations approach has its origin in the Hawthorne experiments and the research of ELTON Mayo. According to him, industrial conflicts are due to inadequate communications and lack of understanding of inter-personal factors like personality differences and irrational behaviour.
An informal social climate should be created to provide workers with outlets for their emotions and sentiments. Further, effective communication can help both the parties to develop accurate perceptions and understand each other’s social, safety and psychological needs.
In the words of Keith Davies, human relations are, “The integration of people into a work situation that motivates them to work together productivity, co-operatively and with economic, psychological and social satisfactions.”
- Giri’s Approach:
Mr. V.V. Girl who was Labour Minister and later became the President of India was strong supporter of collective bargaining and mutual negotiations for the settlement of industrial disputes. He was of this opinion that” Voluntary efforts on the part of management and the trade union for winding up their differences is a tonic to the industry and any compulsion from outside is bitter medicine. He was of this firm opinion that “there should be bipartite machinery in every industry and every unit of the industry to settle differences from time to time with active encouragement of government but outside interference should not encroach the industrial peace.”
Giri Approach gave emphasis that industrial peace might be secured through machinery of collective bargaining. The trade unions should grow strong and self-reliant without the assistance of any outsider. There must be mutual settlement of disputes through collective bargaining and voluntary arbitration and not the compulsory adjudication.
This approach gave emphasis that internal settlement should be preferred and compulsory adjudication should be taken up as the last resort and only in exceptional circumstances. In fact Giri’s approach was appreciated by some employers but trade unions and State Ministries opposed it due to different reasons like weak trade unions, irrational industrial strikes and unnecessary stoppage of work.
- The Gandhian Approach:
Gandhiji has been one of the greatest labour leaders of modern India. He approached labour in completely new and refreshing manner. Gandhiji advocated peaceful co-existence of capital and labour. He believed in trust, non-violence and non-possession. He had immense faith in the goodness of man and believed that many of the evils of the modern world have been brought about by wrong systems and not by wrong individuals.
He insisted on recognising each individual worker as human being. Further, he realised that labour-management relations can be either a powerful stimulus to economic and social progress or an important factor in economic and social stagnation. The industrial peace is an essential condition not only for the growth and development of the industry itself, but also for the improvement in the conditions of work and wages.
Gandhiji advocated following rules to resolve industrial disputes:
(i) Workers should seek redressal of reasonable demands only through collective bargaining.
(ii) Workers should avoid strikes, as far as possible, in industries of essential services.
(iii) Strikes to be avoided and only resorted to as last measure, only non-violent methods should be used.
(iv) Workers should take recourse to voluntary arbitration where direct settlement fails.
(v) Trade unions should seek authority from all workers before organising a strike and remain peaceful and nonviolent during strikes.
(vi) Formation of trade unions should be avoided in philanthropical organisations
(vii) He pleaded mutual respect, recognition of equality and strong labour unions as the pre-requisites for healthy industrial relations.