“Where organizations adopt a partnership approach, trade union representatives can work with management to encourage good practice and help employees to be realistic. ” 1. Introduction War and chaos is an end to attain peace. It is an irony but it is a fact. In much the same manner, unions were born because of the want for industrial peace. When workers felt that their rights were ignored, if not violated, they raised their voices in unison. This started in the age of industrialization where factory workers were hired mainly for manual labor. Working conditions then were poor and workers were required to work long hours.
Workers felt their wages did not compensate their day’s work. Thus, the birth of unions came about in the early 1900’s. Workers realized that unless they unite and raise their grievances collectively, capitalists would not hear them. Back then, the governments were not deeply involved in ascertaining that the rights of workers are not violated. What was more important in those days was building capital and growing the economy of the nations. Focus then was on returns of investment and ensuring that profits were earned as expected by the early ventures.
Partnership between the capitalists and the working class was merely monetary in character. A day’s work earns a day’s wage. Fair labor is translated into a fair’s wage. Concerns that the workers raised through their unions were more on improved working conditions and better pay. Collectively, workers got the compromise deals from employers after staging strikes and rallies and after lockouts staged by employers. Employee-employer relations at that time were adversarial and guarded. This was the age of industrial relations where focus was on keeping workers at bay in order for industrial operations to succeed.
The relationship was costly as productivity suffered during strikes and lockouts. Workers litigated against employers at the cost of the latter. Growing animosity between the two sectors was felt. “The growing distance between business leaders and employees is as corrosive to UK employee relations as managerial dishonesty, says Roger Maitland Directors of large UK companies cannot be relied on to tell the truth, according to 80 per cent of people questioned in an opinion poll commissioned by the Financial Times earlier this year.
This cancer of mistrust eating away at the heart of UK plc is felt right across gender, age and social class, and in all parts of the country. No great surprise, perhaps? The wave of accounting scandals — exacerbated by poorly handled redundancy programmes, the growing pensions crisis, and ever-increasing rewards for “failed” executives — is hardly likely to build public confidence in company directors. On the contrary, it is a recipe for profound and pervasive cynicism about the honesty and integrity of those responsible for our economic future.
” (A question of trust. By: Maitland, Roger, People Management, 13586297, 11/6/2003, Vol. 9, Issue 22). As employers saw the need to raise productivity and minimize costs brought about by strikes and litigations, shift from industrial relations to employee relations emerged. In the new paradigm, employers initiated human resource programs geared towards people development, better working conditions, insurance systems to compensate for worker’s injuries at work, and other initiatives which supported workers’ rights.
The initiative to change paradigms in the employer-employee relationship was complemented by governmental laws which ensured that workers’ rights were upheld in all workplaces. Sensing the attention and change, employees responded gradually. They, too, saw the need to be more secure in their work, to be productive in a peaceful and harmonious work environment.