For any kind of business, it is very important to keep the employees happy and satisfied which can help in maintaining a good relationship in between the employer and the employee of an organization. This can eventually help in the achievement of the business objectives because of the fact that when the employees have a good relationship with the organization, they will always try to give their best in the work for achieving the goals (Blyton and Turnbull, 2014). In this report, the understanding of the employee relationship against a changing background will be developed along with that of the nature of the conflicts that usually happen in the industries and its respective solutions. Additionally, an extensive discussion on the process of collective bargaining and negotiation will also be emphasized in this report.
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The employer and the employee relationship in an organization is not constant and it is varying. The relationship cannot be properly understood from any one perspective and thus for the interpretation of this relationship, the perspectives that are considered are the unitarist, pluralist or radical perspectives(Matlay, 2012). Nevertheless, in spite of these perspectives, it is necessary to understand the fact and develop the own concept and have a personal view and value realisation in this regard. The unitarist and the pluralistic reference frames will be discussed in details below along with the understanding of the implications of them:
Unitary frame of reference: In this case, the whole of the organization has only one aim of success and common objective fulfilment having a paternalistic approach demanding loyalty from each and every employee. This perspective views that the interest of both the employer and the employees are same for the organization helping in the enhancement of employee honesty and thus manage a proper relationship with all the employees. The necessity of trade union is not felt in case of harmonious working and if the employees are dishonest and ineffective in their work, then that can give rise to conflicts. Thus, conflicts are considered in a negative view since it can lead to the breaking down of harmony and increase power inequalities in the organization. The integration of the workers sentiments are not proper because this frame is normative in nature and it does not explain the identification and sharing of common goals throughout the organizations.
Pluralistic frame of reference: It is unlike to that of the unitarist approach and considers the concept of diverse workforce having different attitudes, beliefs, values of the employees and the employer in the organization. The interests of them are not same and thus conflict within the organization is bound to occur. The leadership and the organizational attachment also have opposing sources. In this frame of reference, the trade unions play its roles in being the employee representatives since the employees are helped positively for focusing on the decision making capability of all the employees(Wilkinson, 2009). The collective bargaining process can be very helpful in bringing about stability in the relationship with the employees by going through a set of negotiation and concession in between the employer and the employees. Proper HR decisions can be very helpful in pluralistic approach which can solve many conflicts. The employees can be consulted by the employers in case of any conflict and thereby it can be resolved. Since, the occurrence of conflict is obvious, it is not overlooked and such situations are treated efficiently with the help of cooperation from all the associated stakeholders of the organization. There can be some rules which can help in determining the ways to solve such conflicts but since these rules cannot be implemented in diverse conditions of workplace, it is not beneficial.
The role of trade unions is to represent the employees set of interests and in knowing the employee rights in the organizations so that they can collectively bargain and negotiate with the employers in conforming mutual advantages of them. The trade unions were very strong from the beginning of the 1900s. Tracing back to 1920 when there was a fall down in the coal mine sector, the employers decreased the amount of wages from the employees and moreover the decision regarding the increase in the working hours also gave rise to the occurrence of labour unrest and strike. Many of the workers also died in the strike and from that time onwards the trade union became very powerful and this eventually brought about a serious change in the employee relations. It is evident from different reports and studies that trade unions have definitely brought about changes in the employee relations and with the regular and huge industrial growth and globalization, the demands related to the employee trade unions were gradually increasing which can definitely have effects on the employer and the employee relationship. It can be seen that the problem of increasing unemployment among the employees along with the employee lay - offs etc. all these contribute to the fact that the trade unions collectively bargain and negotiate with the employers and the negotiations are increasing day by day (Matlay, 2012). The needs and wants of the employees are increasing gradually with every changing day and thus trade unions of the employees have to focus on getting the needs fulfilled by thinking about other alternatives so that they can perform the business activities(Brown, 2011).At the very beginning when the trade union came into its form, the relationship between the employer and the employees was not proper but with the strengthening of the power of trade union, the relationship between them improved to an extent.
The relationship of the employers with the employees must be effectively managed with respect to decision making, solving of problems, managing the grievances of the employees etc. In the employee relations situation, the main players like the workers, the managers, the organizations, the governmental agencies perform in different roles having both direct and indirect effect in the relationship (Deery et al, 2009).
The individual roles and responsibilities of each of the main players of an employee relations situation can be discussed as follows:
Roles of workers: The workers are the most important players and are considered as a vital driving force with regard to the employee relationship management. They effectively and directly are seen to take part and contribute their opinions in the decision making process and thus their role is considered to be very significant in the field of resolving different organizational issues. Thus, it can be asserted that the workers have a direct effect on all the organizational actions and decisions that are taken.
Roles of government: The major role that the government and the associated authorities play is that it is mainly responsible in setting up of the rules and regulations as per the laws with respect to the employee relationship management and also it is very helpful in providing proper guidance about the maintenance of employee relation within the organizations.
Roles of managers: Like that of the workers, the managers are also an inevitable player in the employee relationship situation. The major power of the managers are in taking the necessary decisions about the organizations and it can either e their own decision or it can also be taken with the help of the opinions of other employees. If the decisions are not taken keeping in mind the opinions of the employees, the employees can definitely protest but unlike the managers, they do not have the power to take decisions directly.
Roles of organization: Organization also plays a major role in this regard. The relationship between the employer and the employees is largely dependent on the organizational structure and pattern and also its size. Generally, in profit organizations, the power of the trade unions in collective bargaining for the employees is immense. On the other hand, in non – profit organizations, the trade union cannot collectively bargain with the organizations so effectively like that of the profit organizations.
Thus, from the above discussion it can be understood that the different major players in case of employee relations have different roles and each and every roles played by them is considered to be very important in this regard.
In an organization, the management of relationship between the employer and the employees is considered to be an important aspect and it is also to be kept in mind that conflict occurrence is an inevitable part of the employee relation. The conflict may occur because of a number of reasons and also between the employer and the employee, between several employees and also with a group of employees. The organizations need to follow so that they can effectively deal with the conflict situation. In the given case of conflict between the British Medical Association, NHS Employers and the government over the junior doctor’s contract, NHS employer should follow the steps which are mentioned below which can help them in resolving the issue and the strikes:
In case of dealing with the conflicts within the organization, it can follow two important processes which are the formal and the informal process.
Formal process: This is basically regarded as an ‘arbitration’ process which includes the involvement of a third party which is not originally a part of the organization. Thus, in this case, whatever decision that would be taken by the third party will be regarded to be the final decision and both the employees and the employers have to agree to that decision which would be taken. The implementation of procedures, policies and operations help in dealing with the conflict situations effectively. Thus, in this case, the NHS employers can take help from the government whose decision will be regarded as the final and so for the conflict situation between the employer and the group of employees of NHS, this process can be very suitable for solving the conflict (Stevens, 200).
Informal process: The informal process does not require the involvement of any third party for solving the conflict. In this process, the conflicts are resolved by the representatives of the employers and the employees. The working participation committee is mainly responsible for the mitigation of conflicts and the conflict solution is not at all based on any operation, policies or procedures like that of formal process(Bouchez, 2011). Thus, the conflict between the NHS employers and its single or group of employees can be effectively solved with the participation of the representatives of them respectively. In case of conflict between employees of NHS, the participation committee can play important role in mitigating the same.
The different steps which are needed to be followed for the conflict mitigation between the employer and the employees of NHS or even between the employees are:
Understanding the problem pattern: In order to solve the problem for which there is a situation of conflict, it is very necessary to at first understand the nature of the problem because without the understanding of the same, it would not be possible at all to go on to the next step for the problem mitigation.
Identifying the issue for conflict: It is the duty of the NHS Employers to identify and realize that the problem has actually taken place so that the next step of problem source identification can be carried out.
Finding out the source from which the problem started: The source of the problem needs to be recognized because of the fact that it is important to solve the problem from the root level and so that the conflict which occurred as a result of the problem can be solved.
Devising plans and strategies in conflict solving: Thus, after the problem pattern, the actual problem and its source have been properly identified by the NHS employer, they should plan and develop necessary strategies so that the problem and the conflict can be resolved and all the associated employees and the employers can be highly satisfied with their interests being fulfilled thereby leading to the overall benefit of the organization.
The role of ACAS which is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is very important and in such conflict situations it can provide free and unbiased advice to both the employees and the employers in relation to the employment law. Conciliation is also provided so that these kinds of workplace problems can be effectively solved.
Thus, these steps can be followed by NHS employers so that the conflict situation that occurred between them regarding the new junior doctors’ contract can be resolved.
UK government is mainly responsible for the protection and control of the employees needs and wants as well as their rights towards their working in the public as well as private sector(Hubbard and Mannell, 2011). As per the given case, in the conflict situation between the BMA and the government of UK, the different features of employee relations can be identified from the case. The ideological framework of this conflict situation is basically considered to be a pluralistic framework because of the diverse workforce as that of the NHS employers, the government and the BMA and so in this case when the junior doctor group went against to that of the introduction of contract by the three authorities, the decision of Mr Justice Green was against the junior doctors and this decision was regarded to be final. Thus, it followed the formal process of resolution and even if many more strikes were planned in this regard, they were suspended. The employees working within the organization have same interests and so no discriminating features can be observed among them. In the case where there was a conflict between the government, BMA and junior doctors’ group, negotiation between them helped in addressing the conflict situation. The negotiations in the month of May resulted in agreement between the BMA, NHS and the government for the junior doctors’ contract. Moreover, collective bargaining for the contract after the occurrence of a number of strikes enabled them in agreeing over a new contract on the 18th of May. Thus from the cooperation of these organizations and with negotiation and collective bargaining, this conflict situation was resolved.
In the given conflict situation over the introduction of new contract of junior doctors, the procedure that was used by the conflicting organizations like the BMA, the government and the NHS was negotiation. It includes the identification of the source of the issue as well as the conflict costs with respect to the organizations as well as the employees. The unified steps that are taken in this regard for solving the conflict situation may not be able to meet the overall situation of conflict satisfying all the parties and thus it was seen that BMA held many strikes even after negotiation procedures was followed. According to Elkouri et al (2015) the process of arbitration in this case which includes the involvement of the third party when the decisions of the disputants are unsatisfactory to some respects, then it can be very helpful. According to this case, the arbitration was done by the legal bodies whose decision was regarded as the final decision in conflict situation and thus even if further strikes were arranged by BMA, the legal authorities serving as the arbitrary force did not support them and thus the strikes had to be suspended. Even if the doctors committee decided to be against the contract introduction, the law decided that it would be introduced irrespective of the needs of the different organizations or associations thereby resolving the issue of conflict situation. Thus, it can be rightly said that conflict management can be very easy with these procedures like negotiation, collective bargaining and arbitrations (Hopmann, 2012).
The overall process that includes negotiation in between the employers and the respective employee group with respect to the agreements or contracts introduced for the regulation of different employment conditions is known as collective bargaining. As per the given case study, the negotiation plays an important role in collective bargaining process and thus it can help in finding a better outcome for all the parties and they can be equally benefitted from the negotiation process. The negotiations was followed between the BMA, NHS Employers and the government in 2013 but in spite of that fact, BMA decided to strike because they had a disagreement issue with that of the government. It was followed so that the parties can ultimately come to a collective agreement which will necessarily govern the employment relationship (Bouchez, 2011). It is possible that the negotiation would not be favourable for all the parties and it is the duty of Unison which is a unified establishment including several UK union groups to control the conflict situations occurring among different unions and the different organizational employers with the help of negotiating procedure. The judicial review helped in the resolution of conflict in this situation and the parties have to conform to the decisions that were taken by the judicial body although it was not in the favour of the junior doctors committee. Thus, from the study of this case it can definitely be asserted that the negotiation process in the collective bargaining plays an immensely important role in view of mitigating the conflict situation and taking the final decision which would be the ultimate solution to the conflicting condition (Deery, Iverson and Erwin, 2009).
The negotiating process can have both positive and negative effects on the parties involved in a conflicting situation. The decision taken in the process of negotiation may not be as per the demand and need of all the parties in the conflict. But regardless of this fact, the negotiation strategy can effectively help in solving the conflicting situations between different unions of the organizations. According to Hopmann, (2012) the negotiation strategy can help in protecting the rights of the employees by bringing about a proper solution with respect to the conflict situation. The negotiation process that was done in between the BMA, NHS and government also helped in the absolute cooperation from all the parties so that they can come to an ultimate solution to the conflict over the introduction of junior doctors’ contract. Thus, this strategy can also help in bringing about increased productivity in the performance of the employees and so eventually the condition of working available for the employees will also be proper (Stevens, 2008). It is devised in such a way so that there can be a win – win situation and thus, all the parties can be benefitted to some extent from the negotiating decision. The decision that was taken by the justice board towards the introduction of the contract of new junior doctors was that in spite of the protests from junior doctor group, it was felt by the justice board that the introduction of the contract was very necessary and so the strikes that were arranged against the issue had to be suspended. The point of differences between the parties can be solved with the help of other negotiating strategies like that of distributive negotiation and integrative negotiation. In case of distributive negotiation, the gain of one party will be the loss of the other party thereby representing a win – lose situation and all the parties will try to get the maximum value from the negotiating process. On the other hand, in case of the integrative negotiation, there is win – win strategy to the dispute situation where the agreement to be ultimately developed can be mutually beneficial for the parties. In this case, the distributive negotiation strategy was followed where the decision of the judicial body was regarded to be the final decision in response to the dispute condition.
From the discussions it can be inferred that the management of conflict situation is very important in order to maintain the employee relationships. The employee relations are bound to change with the change in the policies or working backgrounds and the UK trade unions play an important role in maintaining ad protecting the overall rights of the employees (Brown, 2011). In case of any industries, it is obvious that there would be conflict situations and the resolving of conflicting situations between the parties can be done by negotiation, collective bargaining and arbitration.