Managing Conflict In The Workplace Ian Mejia Redfield College 2009
Syllabus • industrial conflict • • definition and causes — wage demands, working conditions, management policy, political goals and social issues • • perspectives on conflict — unitary, pluralist, radical • • types of industrial action • – overt — lockouts, pickets, strikes, bans, work-to-rule • – covert — absenteeism, sabotage, turnover, exclusion from decision-making in business • • roles of stakeholders in resolving disputes • • dispute resolution processes — conciliation, arbitration, grievance procedures, negotiation, mediation, common law action, business/division closure • • costs and benefits of industrial conflict • – financial, personal, social, political, international
Causes of Industrial Conflict • Industrial Conflict is clash between employees and employers • The main causes of conflict are wages, hours of work, entitlements, managerial policy, physical working conditions, trade unionism, and other things.
Wage Disputes • Income for employees vs Profits for employers. • Basic source of conflict because workers want more money, and businesses want fewer expenses. • Causes for wage disputes include business profit, executive salary increases, inflation, differing salaries.
Hours of Work • Needs of the business vs Employee flexibility. • Changes to normal hours • Restrictions on holidays
Entitlements (leave, compensation, etc.) • Mainly in business collapse. Employees want the money that they are entitled to. • Accumulated sick leave, and long service leave for example.
Management Policy • Major changes to business structure or policy. • E.g changes to shifts, promotions, new awards or agreements, discipline policy etc.
Physical Working Conditions • Employers must provide safe working conditions. • Employees may feel their conditions are substandard or to uncomrfotable.
Trade Unionism • Decreased in recent years due to The Workplace Relations Act 1996 • Ability to take legal action for unlawful industrial disruptions.
Perspectives on Conflict • Unitary • Pluralist • Radical
Unitary • A perspective on conflict that assumes both employers and employees have the same business vision and this work together to ensure smooth industrial relations pratices are carried out.
Unitary View of ER • If conflict does arise it is because of poor management or poor communications, or interference from third parties. • This is closely tied to HRM where the organisation is viewed in its entirety as ‘one’ without a fundamental conflict.
Pluralist • A perspective that assumes conflict in the workplace is inevitable because employers and employees want different things.
Pluralist View on Conflict • Argument for the need for employees to act together to overcome the position of power of the employer. • Loyalty should be towards the union, or fellow employees, than the business. • Conflict shold be resolved by an ‘independent’ or Government.
Radical • A perspective on conflict based on a difference in ideology. A rejection of all forms of entrepreneurship.
Radical View on Conflict • Conflict is caused by the class war in capitalist economies between workers and owners. • Change to the social structure and economic system is required.
3 Perspectives • Three very good quotes in your text book representing the three differing perspectives.
Pluralist ‘No wonder workers are nervous and edgy about their prospects. They’ve been downsized, contracted out and casualised.’ ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet
Unitary We [Govt.] don’t believe that at the first sign of trouble commissions should rush in. We fundamentally believe that the relationship between workers and managers is best run at the workplace level rather than mediated between third parties. Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abott
Radical ‘The Australian labour force has seen a polarisation between over and under employment culminating in a loss of job security for those at the lower end of this spectrum and consequently a weaker position in the class power struggle - The Dole Army
Types of Industrial Action • Industrial action is when disputes cannot be resolved through negotiations. • Generally we can break industrial action into overt and covert action.
OvertActions • Obvious and visible forms of industrial action. • These include strikes, pickets, work bans, and work to rule, by EMPLOYEES • And lockouts, transfers, and dismissal for EMPLOYERS
Strikes • Obvious and common industrial action. • Disruption to business as well as the community. • Requires higher rates of union membership or skilled workers • Employers can now sue employees for unlawful strike action
Pickets • Protests outside workplaces to disrupt workers and suppliers from entering or exiting the building. • May lead to significant loss of production.
Work Bans and Work To Rule • Refusal to do duties not specifically outlined in the employment contract. E.g. overtime or other duties. • Work to Rule is similar wherein workers do only what is specified in the employment contract.
Lockouts • Employers actually lock the workers out leaving workers with no income. • Quite an extreme measure
Transfer and Dismissal • Moving workers to other departments or locations. Reducing the power of employees by separating workers responsible for conflict. • Dismissing workers who do not comply with their conditions of employment
Absenteeism • ‘Chuckin a sickie.’ obvious sign of worker dissatisfation. • Turning up late or leaving early • Effective indicator of effective employment relations.
Sabotage and Accidents • Damaging equipment, stealing, disrupting work process, and wasting time. • Carelessness can lead to accidents
Turnover Rates • The number of employees permanently leaving a workplace who need replacing. • Worker dissatisfaction, unmotivation, or lack of rewards.
Covert Action by EmployERS • Exclusion of workers from decision making • Reduction of entitlements and ‘perks.’ • Rostering someone out or reducing hours.
The Role of Stakeholders Resolving disputes has traditionally been characterised by nions and employer associations battling for power. Recent years has seen a move towards dispute resolution at the workplace level.
Employees and Employers • Many disputes do not need the union to intervene. • It is costly to both parties involved • Significance and importance of the formal grievance procedure to reduce productivity loss and assist in dispute resolution.
Unions and Employer Associations • Role of unions is decreasing • Work Choices introduced a ‘bargaining period’ in between contracts. Industrial action must not occur outside this time period. • Unions and Employer Associations are only required if the dispute heads to conciliation or arbitration at an industrial tribunal level.
Government Organisations • AIRC – Australian Industrial Relations Commission. • Anti Discrimination Board • Courts
The Process of Dispute Resolution • When disputes cannot be solved at a workplace level, or if grievance procedures fail.
Negotiation • CA’s and Awards normally will be negotiated through unions and employers. • AWA’s are at an individual level.
Mediation • When both parties cannot agree on a resolution mediation may be a likely alternative • Mediation involves inviting a third party to assist with the negotiations encouraging parties to find common ground and settle a dispute. • Suggestions are not binding.
Conciliation • Conciliation is mediation but the AIRC is the mediator. Disputing parties may be ordered to the Industrial tribunal. • Parties would rather resolve their dispute here than move to arbitration.
Arbitration • The AIRC will hear both sides and then provides a legally binding decision before a commissioner in small disputes, or a full bench for large disputes.
Costs and Benefits • Costs during a dispute, benefits may come as flow on effects. • Costs include, financial costs, loss of production, reduced job security, lost revenue, stress and loss of morale, divisions etc. • Benefits include, a better workplace and workplace practice. Fairer outcomes releasing possible tension, improved employment relations.