Human resource management (HRM)

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There are many contradictions both in theory and in practice between HRM and IR at workplace level and beyond. The central contradiction concerns the very essence of the nature of HRM and IR. IR has traditionally been concerned with collective representation of employees. This means that through the process of collective bargaining, employee representatives negotiate with employer representatives over a large range of substantive issues such as pay, working conditions etc.

, as well as procedural arrangements such as disciplinary, disputes and redundancy procedures. Trade Unions by their very nature are concerned with protecting the interests of the employees, firstly by securing the highest price for their labour. Employers, on the other hand, wish to buy labour at the lowest cost to themselves. Therefore, there is a conflict of interest between employees and employers. The conflict is ever present and needs to be continually regulated through the process of collective bargaining.

One of the issues that HRM places emphasis on is the commitment of the individual employee to the employer’s organization. The main contradiction referred to above is between the individualism of the HRM approach to the employment relationship to the collectivism of the IR approach to that relationship. Another issue that should be looked at is recent attempts to incorporate certain aspects of IR within HRM, and this has given rise to speculation about the emergence of a contemporary form of IR.

(Mabey ; Salaman, 1995)Throughout the 20th century many amendments were made to the employee and industrial relations field in Australia, which included the induction of 40 hour week, the anti discrimination act, minimum redundancy payments and leave entitlements. In 1983 the Occupational Health ; Safety Act was introduced, which placed a greater responsibility on employers to reduce work related injuries and involve employees in creating a safer workplace. The new Industrial Relations Act in 1988 endorsed the development of workplace dispute settling mechanisms in order to create a more flexible workforce.

The need for a more flexible workforce eventually lead to the establishment of the Enterprise Bargaining Principle (EBO) in 1991. This allowed employees and their unions to negotiate workplace practices, award payments and also encouraged discussion between employees and management. Furthermore, 1996 provided another milestone for IR, with the introduction of the Workplace Relations Act (Cascio, 1998, p. 482). Furthermore, governments have a role in administering those rules through federal and state departments of industrial relations.

These provide advice to ministers, develop and implement government policy on employment and industrial relations matters, update the relevant pieces of legislation, and encourage employment, human resources utilization and training schemes. Also, the role of sector HRM acts through public services sectors by determining pay and conditions in different sections of the service, administer human resources policies, and are involved in recruitment activities, promotions and transfers.

The Industrial Relations Commission settles industrial disputes within its jurisdiction and determines wage fixing principles and working conditions. The IRC’s role has been greatly diminished in the recent years, as it is seen to be a major obstacle in to the success of an enterprise -based system of industrial relations. However, the IRC still possesses a great lobby, including unions, employer associations, industrial advocates and academic specialists (Clark, 1993, p. 111).

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