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What do trade unions do in the employment relationship

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Preface

Trade Unions may be defined as the groups of people who collate the interests of the employees against the Organization that may seek opportunities to exploit the interests of the employees and labourers. With the formation of the first trade unions in Britain, it was the skilled workers who organized themselves together as early as the 17th Century (Deakin and Morris, 2012). This led to the formation of the groups of employees who collated with the main purpose of representing the other employees in front of the employer to validate the terms and conditions of the employee contract. This has also seen a negative Impact from the government where in, once the trade unions assumed larger powers and freedom, the governments were left with no choice other than applying sanctions such that the scope of the Trade Unions was limited.

This essay describes the trade unions and the main functions of the unions and how the various Trade unions are being overpowered and resisted in terms of their presence and powers. There are also many strategies that are applied by the employers to curtail the progress of the Trade unions subsequently promoting the interests of the employers (Gumbrell-McCormick and Hyman, 2013). A detail of the same has been included in this essay. The essay also portrays a few recommendations and suggestions that can be generally applied to the present state of the relationships between Trade Unions and Employers and their individual interests.

Defining and understanding Trade Unions

Every organization has a certain number of employees who can be exploited if proper measures are not applied to the working conditions and output of the employees (Visser, 2012). Workers and Union Leaders conjoin in such conditions in order to protect and promote the interests of workers and the employers such that both are equally benefitted with the progress of the company. There are some basic purposes that the Trade Unions fulfil such as:

  • Negotiating the wages and the terms and conditions of the working contract
  • It is also detrimental in regulating the relations between the workers and the employers that handle the workers
  • Unions are also capable of and have the authority to take action and make decisions collectively such that better negotiation and bargaining can be applied (Aspinwall and Greenwood, 2013)

New demands that are justified can also be raised as and when it is required and Grievance redresser and settling conflicts between the employers and employees or between two or more employees can also be the action taken depending upon the situations that are prevalent

Trade Unions are also referred to as Labour Unions or simply unions such that the relationship between the employer and the employee is maintained. As per the common law that is applicable to such statues, the trade unions can be considered to be partnerships where in, the trade unions are voluntarily formed and do not have a legal inception or authority (Beharrell and Philo, 2016). All Trade Unions are catered to according to the statues that are defined in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act of 1974.

Role of Trade unions in Employment relationship

There is a certain set of defined functions that each trade unions formed has to fulfil. It has to successfully achieve the objectives that have led to the formation of the union. While the primary objective of the union is to protect the common interests of the employees and the workers, the secondary objective may include taxation and benefit control and demanding special privileges. It is also imperative to the repute of the Trade Unions to be able to support and encourage the management for the functions that are being performed and act as a major contributor to the company. This can be achieved by motivating and encouraging the workers to perform better (Fossum, 2014). This may be the first level, at which the trade unions affect the employer- employee relationship.

At the moment only 26% of the entire UK employees are registered Union Members where in the higher density is found to be prevalent in the Public Sector and the private sector is lesser. While there may be one large federation in the country, most of the trade unions are independent (Barrientos, 2013).

Equality for Workers Union or the EFWU is the trade union that caters to the rights and demands of the workers across the country and ensures that all issues are sorted and legally settled. Considering that a Trade Union would cater to the interests of the workers, this Union is also worker centric and focuses on the employment rights and caters to the individual and collated demands of the workers.

Trade unions are important for the wellbeing and management of the workers. There are various ways in which the trade unions impact the employment relations (Dibben and Williams, 2012).

Firstly, Trade Unions cater to Collective Bargaining. This may be defined as the process of bargaining equally either for the working conditions or some facilities that may be necessary for the employees. Traditionally, the balance was tilted on the side of the employers but with the emergence of the trade unions, both the employee and the employer have equal say in the matters.

Secondly, Trade Unions have been major contributing to the welfare of the employees. The main aim of the Trade Unions is to ensure that each worker is being remunerated in cash or kind, the worth of the work effort that is being put in by the employee (Poole and Jenkins, 2013). Trade unions seek better working conditions and organizational space for workers and also justify the wages and balances between the work and life aspect of the workers. This may also include rescheduling working hours and lending security to the jobs.

Thirdly, for a trade union it is important to lend higher importance to the satisfaction of the employees and weigh the circumstances through which the interests of workers are catered to against the employers who may tend to be demanding and force their opinions and decisions on the workers.

Lastly, trade unions are also responsible for handling the unfair practices. It is considered illegal for the employers to forcibly dominate a Trade Union or discriminate against the workers who may be an active part of the union (Terry, 2012). In such cases, the employers who may victimize the employees can be tried in court.

In addition to this, the workers may also bring to the notice of the Unions the problems and the issues that are being faced at work. This could pertain to salaries, remunerations, extended work hours, unjustified work load and stress at work (Landau and Howe, 2016). In addition to catering to the interests of the workers the Unions are also detrimental in maintaining the decorum and discipline of the workers that fall under the Union and any unethical and misbehaviour action by the worker of the union is strictly condemned.

Challenges and resistance that Trade unions face

While trade Unions have been applying the present trends to the functioning modes, yet there are many challenges that the Trade Unions face. This is why despite the fact that the Trade Unions are worker centric and focus on the wellbeing of the workers, in sectors like Construction and Industrial manufacturing units, the trade unions have not been able to make a demarcated success. Some of the major challenges that are faced are not operational and majorly participation related.

To begin with, a major challenge is the limited participation from the private sector players. While the public sector shows a good rate of Unionization, the private sector has not been able to invite and request a similar level of participation. With the growing privatisation in the global economies, a larger participation from the privatised sectors is immensely important.

Secondly, the participation from the low wage earners is also limited (McCann and Ortega-Argilés, 2015). While middle income generators and higher income groups are participative, the lower income groups are not responsive to unionization. This is despite the fact that lower income groups are more susceptible to the unfair treatment and working conditions by the employers.

Thirdly, there are many areas that are unionized yet there are workers that have not been classified as a part of any union. This is a challenge that has to be met. There has to be awareness and acceptability of the Trade Unions in areas that have been unionized to include the workers who are not yet aware of them (Schnabel, 2013).

A uniformed One Movement methodology needs to be applied as far as the conflict resolution and the further approach is concerned.

Strategies that employers and trade unions can apply to benefit their interest In order to promote the interests of the group both the employers and the trade unions adhere to certain strategies to garner a stronger foothold in the respective demands that need to be met. While a neutral tone to the strategies is maintained, inherently each group focusses on their personal interests.

Striking remains the first strategy that is applied by the Unions when the demands that have been placed are not met. This would involve the major decision of the workers not resuming the work till their demands are met. Naturally, this brings the organization to a complete standstill. Another strategy that can be effectively applied is Parading. This pertains to the collated group activity of demonstrations and parading where the demands being made are publicized and magnified (Pontusson, 2013). The pressure lent from the media coverage throws the employer in a negative light thereby, making the unions gain empathy of the people. Boycotting the company, services and products is another way in which the Unions can dominate the balance between the employer and the employee. In cases, where the demand to take stringent steps is lesser the Union may also adopt the recourse of a negotiation which may be collective or confrontational in nature.

On the other hand, to counter the effects that are created by the strategies that are adopted by the Trade Unions, the companies also try to counter the actions that have been taken (Hamann, Johnston and Kelly, 2013). Union Busting is the term that is used by the media and worker supporters in lieu of the strategies that the companies apply to counter the approaches of the Trade Unions. In fact, Union Busting may either be legal or illegal depending upon the gravity of the situation.

Union Busting may also be planned as a series of activities where enough and deliberate efforts are made such that coercion and confusion is created. This shakes the base of the union. Lies are the primary resort where the company tries to handle the situation critically with lies that may or may not be later applied. Also, an Anti –Union Campaign is launched (Smith, 2015). This involves certain strategies such as finding a representative from the employer’s side. This would generate the need for nomination of a person who is popular and liked among the workforce.

Anti-Union Campaigns then try to delay the time for negotiations such that a job insecurity is created in the minds of the workers and the pressure of losing the wages is created (Congress, 2013). In addition, there is also the tactic of manipulating the condition such that the workers tend to feel fearful of the union and side with the company withdrawing support from the Union.

Last resort is for the company to go on a strike and shut down the operations for an indefinite period of time till the workers settle and the job loss breaks the motive.

Recommendations and Conclusion

It is imperative for both the sides of the employers and the workers to be aware of the individual rights and also learn to demand a right or a need when it is justified. In order to form a Union, the intent has to be clear and the mission should be a worker centric aim that focusses on the just and fair treatment of the workers. On the other hand, the employer needs to ascertain that the work conditions and employment terms that have been offered to the Worker are suited to the work that has been assigned to the worker.

It is only when the company caters to the needs of the employees that the employees are able to display better performance and deliver a profit oriented output.

Tue Sep 04 14:56:31 +0000 2018

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