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"The existence of high commitment management in unionized workplaces suggests that such management is compatible with trade unionism." Discuss

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Introduction

"The existence of high commitment management in unionized workplaces suggests that such management is compatible with trade unionism." Discuss The relationship between workers and management has historically been an adversarial one. In the process of fighting for employee right and benefits, unions have traditionally created a 'them and us' atmosphere between employees and managers. On the other hand, high commitment management tries to eliminate the 'them and us' atmosphere and instead attempts to replace it with one of partnership where both employees and management work together for the benefit of the firm. Thus, the respective natures of high commitment establishments and unions would imply incompatibility. It is due to this belief that some high commitment firms devote enormous resources to strategies aimed to keep unions away from their firms such as hiring lawyers who specialize in union avoidance and implementing high commitment work practices such as grievance systems and work teams. However, there is a paradox to this belief as studies show that as compared with non-unionized firms, unionized firms in high commitment establishments provide more rights and benefits to workers, give more opportunities to employees to give and receive information, and give a greater voice to employees to voice either constructive suggestion or dissent (WERS 1992). ...read more.

Middle

Allowing workers to have a say in how their firm is managed increases their job satisfaction and is a major reason why "on average, turnover is lower in union settings."4 In addition, unions tend to fight more for the benefits of employees with longer tenures in firms. This gives union members an increased incentive to commit themselves to their firm in the long term and also may be a factor contributing to lower turnover. This is compatible with high commitment management strategy in many occupations such as teaching and nursing where goals such as low turnover and worker longevity are important. However, any high commitment based partnership can break down if there is a lack of trust and accountability. Unions though can be trusted by management to act cooperatively because managers know that union officials want to protect their union's reputation with a particular firm and oftentimes this " concern for its reputation can be the guarantee that management needs of good, constructive behavior"5. In addition, a long-term partnership between unions and management can permit a greater degree of trust and objectivity than can the partnership between management and individual workers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Major firms such as Tesco have recently taken advantage of this compatibility and are now realizing the formerly untapped benefits that a partnership between unions and high commitment management schemes can bring about. 1 Industrial Relations Services 'Partnership delivers the goods at Tesco', IRS Employment Review, August 1999, No. 662 2 Industrial Relations Services 'Partnership delivers the goods at Tesco', IRS Employment Review, August 1999, No. 662 3 Fernie, Sue. HRM Lecture on 29/01/02 : London: London School of Economics, 2001 4 Baron, James N. , Kreps David M. Strategic Human Resources: Frameworks for General Managers. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999), 127 5 Baron, James N. , Kreps David M. Strategic Human Resources: Frameworks for General Managers. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999), 134 6 Baron, James N. , Kreps David M. Strategic Human Resources: Frameworks for General Managers. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999), 134 7 Fernie, Sue & Gray, Helen 'Women - what unions can do for you' CentrePiece Summer 2000 8 Fernie, Sue & Gray, Helen 'Women - what unions can do for you' CentrePiece Summer 2000 9 Fernie, Sue & Gray, Helen 'Women - what unions can do for you' CentrePiece Summer 2000 10 Metcalf, David 'Fighting for equality' CentrePiece Summer 2000 11 Metcalf, David 'Fighting for equality' CentrePiece Summer 2000 ...read more.

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