The interests of labor and management are both protected through the development of mutual understanding and confidence (Barbash & Barbash, 1989). In addition, industrial relations promote socialization among industries and uplift the economic status of workers by increasing their salaries and wages. Trade unions are developed and encouraged in the aim of improving the strength of workers. Creative trade unions also reduce conflicts and safeguard the interests of workers and the management. The major participants in industrial relations are the management, the state, and the workers and their organizations (trade unions).
The focus of employees is mainly on their personal characteristics, educational qualifications, skills, and attitudes towards work. The relationship between management and workers, especially the ways managers employ their skills in managing human resource, are also looked at. The role of the government depends on the choices made by employees. Theories of Industrial Relations Industrial relations analysts have described three major theoretical approaches that are different in explaining and analyzing relations at workplaces. These are pluralist theory, unitarism, and radical perspectives. Each one provides a unique understanding of relations at workplaces and therefore, uniquely interprets factors such as conflicts, the role of trade unions, and work regulation (Barbash & Barbash, 1989).
The Pluralist Theory In pluralists’ perspective, the organization is made of two prominent and different subgroups, each having its own goals, leaders, and legitimate loyalties. In a nutshell, the two groups are the owners and trade unions. However, the role of management is more of persuasion and coordination and less of enforcing and controlling. Trade unions present themselves as representatives of employees. In an organization, disagreements between managers and employees over the distribution of profits are common and unavoidable.
Hence, conflicts are resolved by collective bargaining. Conflicts are not perceived as negative things and are, therefore, solved through a process of mutual accommodation to bring about a positive change. Good managers believe that conflicts are a part of management and should resolve them through agreed procedures. Since conflicts are inherent to organizations, it is viewed that collective bargaining is vital in maintaining good relations between workers and employers. The implication of this theory is that there should be personnel specialists to advise managers on matters of staffing, union consultation, and negotiation.
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