• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Management strategy towards collective bargaining is now characterised by decentralisation and flexibility" Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


"Management strategy towards collective bargaining is now characterised by decentralisation and flexibility." Discuss. The 1980's brought with it a major shift in traditional industrial relations. In the 1970's there was a trend in management towards greater acceptance of pluralism and collectivism in response to the power of trade unions and government corporatist strategies. Industry wide agreements on pay were the main feature of collective bargaining. The aim of collective bargaining was to create a political institution to provide a means of bringing together at least temporary reconciliation of the divergent interests of employers and employees. In this way a socially stable working environment could be achieved through this wide spread consensus, facilitating the employer's aim of eliciting labour productivity and the macroeconomic objectives of the country (if the government involved). However the changing political and economic environment of the late 70's and early 80's brought with it a more unitarist and individualistic approach. Features of this was an emphasis on human resource management, decentralisation of pay determination and the de-recognition of trade unions in order to create greater flexibility. The neo-liberalist stance of the Conservative government meant that it was anti-trade union and in subsequent years eroded the power of trade unions. The rigours of world competition placed further pressures on firms to improve the quality of their products and to elicit greater labour productivity from their workers. ...read more.


Guest (1987) describes HRM as consisting of a combination of policies designed to produce strategic integration, high commitment and high quality and flexibility among employees. The central theme to this is that is the integration of employees on the basis of commitment rather than instruction and a more devolved business structure is likely to be able to do this against a centralised one. HRM has its hard and soft versions. The hard version views the employee as an economic resource and is normally associated with cost reduction strategy. The soft version places more emphasis on the human aspect and is what the usual rhetoric describes as motivation and commitment measures for employees. This 'psychological contract' between employers and employees has been combined with financial incentives (efficiency wage idea) to stimulate best practice and worker effort. HRM has led to a bypassing of unions and made them less important to workers since 'good' management means the employees' needs for a union to protect them from 'poor' management is reduced. Has the move to greater decentralisation and trade union de-recognition (generally speaking since specific industries have different forms which maybe more appropriate for them) increased flexibility? Hendry (1990) argues that when product market pressures intensify (e.g. in a recession) corporate internal labour markets can reduce flexibility and increase costs but that plant level internal labour markets have a greater degree of flexibility and cost-effectiveness, promoting the argument for further decentralisation. ...read more.


Multi-employer bargaining has ceased in many industries and now firm decentralisation is the main debate. The weakening of the trade union movement through de-recognition and falling subscription levels has also led to a fall in the coverage of collective bargaining and the employer attitude of safety in numbers. However extreme decentralisation does not always lead to the full flexibility of firms to respond to changing product market influences, technology or the labour market. The combination of decentralisation and the individualistic approach (e.g. emphasis on performance related pay) can create incentives for greater worker effort and commitment however there are negative externalities from these such as de-motivating pay comparisons which undermine solidarity between workers. Therefore decentralisation at the firm level appears to be carried out at an appropriate level for appropriate parts of the firm but under close central monitoring. This dualist approach is part of the 'sophisticated modern' model and is continuing to be developed. Remember Soskice (1990) Corporatism debate- what matters is strong 'de facto' co-ordination of either employer organisations or unions- whichever is the stronger (Behind the scenes 'centralization' permits consideration of inflationary and employment impacts of pay bargaining. - unlike individual isolation bargaining. When collective sacrifices are required, sentiments of solidarity do not flow easily across linguistic and national barriers. - Edwards Tighter management control over bargaining has led to pay rises becoming increasingly conditional upon productivity improvements. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. How significant was the trade union movement in the creation and development of the ...

    founded in 1881 by H.M Hyndman. A Marxist group, and advocates of revolution the SDF were the leading socialist organisation of the 1880s. The Socialist League also supported revolution and were set-up by William Morris (once a member of the SDF).

  2. Explain fully and clearly the importance of negotiation within industrial relations to resolve disputes

    I think that the teachers will benefit from this decision as they can afford to live in London. These advantages will mean that schools will retain teachers for a longer period of time and there will be less absenteeism. E3 Use basic terminology to discuss the relevant legislation.

  1. What were the main effects of the 1979-1997 Conservative governments’ reforms to collective ...

    Act of 1978 encouraged trade union membership and activities as well as legislated so that statutory time off had to be given in order to enable union officials to complete their union duties. The act also facilitated trade union recognition by employers (under section 11 of the EPA 1975)

  2. Discuss the view that industrial relations represents a redundant and anachronistic form of management ...

    The concept of new industrial relations originated in the early 1990s, around the same time as the acknowledgement of the factors that caused IR to decline in the 1980s. The increasing importance of 'high-tech' industries and greenfield sites as well as an increasing need for a 'responsible flexible' worker have caused those involved in IR to re-examine their discipline.

  1. This paper explores the history of government, employee and employer associations and their effects ...

    Whenever conflict occurs and strikes result, the media usually portrays the union as the instigator of the conflict, which in fact may not be the case at all. Dufty and Kells (1989) believe that public antipathy toward unions is more on the basis of the abuse of power, not of

  2. Employee Relations and Trade Union Recognition Within The Catering Sector.

    If that trial is deemed a failure then that employee can be sacked without any warning. A high number of young people, normally students and women, have part time jobs within the industry. Because they are only working part time these employees have little power and no recourse to industrial aid.

  1. Impact of Industrialisation - The purpose of this essay is to describe and discuss ...

    Advances to medicine occurred and the standards of living improved health standards and lowed death rates, therefore people lived longer. Modern, fast means of transport, first the railways and much later cars, led to travel, holidays, suburbs, commuting and eventually the development of factories away from towns.

  2. The Winnipeg General Strike.

    . clean the aliens out of this community and ship them back to their happy homes in Europe which vomited them forth a decade ago."21. The Citizens' Committee regarded themselves as neutral in the initial disputes between the building and metal trades unions and their employers but felt that

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work