The relationship between Employer and employee or trade unions is called Industrial Relation. Harmonious relationship is necessary for both employers and employees to safeguard the interests of the both the parties of the production. In order to maintain good relationship with the employees, the main functions of every organization should avoid any dispute with them or settle it as early as possible so as to ensure industrial peace and higher productivity.
Good industrial relation programmes depend on a great variety of factors. Some of the more obvious factors of industrial relations are listed below:
- History of industrial relations – No enterprise can escape its good and bad history of industrial relations. A good history is marked by harmonious relationship between management and workers. A bad history by contrast is characterized by militant strikes and lockouts. Both types of history have a tendency to perpetuate themselves. Once militancy is established as a mode of operations there is a tendency for militancy to continue. Or once harmonious relationship is established there is a tendency for harmony to continue.
- Economic satisfaction of workers – Psychologists recognize that human needs have a certain priority. Need number one is the basic survival need. Much of men conducted are dominated by this need. Man works because he wants to survive. This is all the more for underdeveloped countries where workers are still living under subsistence conditions. Hence economic satisfaction of workers is another important prerequisite for good industrial relations.
- Social and Psychological satisfaction – Identifying the social and psychological urges of workers is a very important steps in the direction of building good industrial relations. A man does not live by bread alone. He has several other needs besides his physical needs which should also be given due attention by the employer. An organization is a joint venture involving a climate of human and social relationships wherein each participant feels that he is fulfilling his needs and contributing to the needs of others. This supportive climate requires economic rewards as well as social and psychological rewards such as workers’ participation in management, job enrichment, suggestion schemes, redressal of grievances etc.
- Off-the-Job Conditions – An employer employs a whole person rather than certain separate characteristics. A person’s traits are all part of one system making up a whole man. His home life is not separable from his work life and his emotional condition is not separate from his physical condition. Hence for good industrial relations it is not enough that the worker’s factory life alone should be taken care of his off-the-job conditions should also be improved to make the industrial relations better.
- Enlightened Trade Unions – The most important condition necessary for good industrial relations is a strong and enlightened labor movement which may help to promote the status of labor without harming the interests of management, Unions should talk of employee contribution and responsibility. Unions should exhort workers to produce more, persuade management to pay more, mobilize public opinion on vital labor issues and help Government to enact progressive labor laws.
- Negotiating skills and attitudes of management and workers – Both management and workers’ representation in the area of industrial relations come from a great variety of backgrounds in terms of training, education, experience and attitudes. These varying backgrounds play a major role in shaping the character of industrial relations. Generally speaking, well-trained and experienced negotiators who are motivated by a desire for industrial peace create a bargaining atmosphere conducive to the writing of a just and equitable collective agreement. On the other hand, ignorant, inexperienced and ill-trained persons fail because they do not recognize that collective bargaining is a difficult human activity which deals as much in the emotions of people as in their economic interests. It requires careful preparation and top –notch executive competence. It is not usually accomplished by some easy trick or gimmick. Parties must have trust and confidence in each other. They must possess empathy, i.e. they should be able to perceive a problem from the opposite angle with an open mind. They should put themselves in the shoes of the other party and then diagnose the problem. Other factors which help to create mutual trust are respect for the law and breadth of the vision. Both parties should show full respect for legal and voluntary obligations and should avoid the tendency to make a mountain of a mole hill.
- Public policy and legislation – When Government, regulates employee relations, it becomes a third major force determining industrial relations the first two being the employer and the union. Human behavior is then further complicated as all three forces interact in a single employee relation situation. Nonetheless, government in all countries intervenes in management – union relationship by enforcing labor laws and by insisting that the goals of whole society shall take precedence over those of either of the parties. Government intervention helps in three different ways 1) it helps in catching and solving problems before they become serious. Almost every one agrees that it is better to prevent fires them to try stopping them after they start; 2) It provides a formalized means to the workers and employers to give emotional release to their dissatisfaction; and 3) It acts as a check and balance upon arbitrary and capricious management action.
- Better education - With rising skills and education workers expectations in respect of rewards increase. It is a common knowledge that the industrial worker in India is generally illiterate and is misled by outside trade union leaders who have their own axe to grind. Better workers education can be a solution to this problem. This alone can provide worker with a proper sense of responsibility, which they owe to the organization in particular, and to the community in general.
- Nature of industry – In those industries where the costs constitute a major proportion of the total cast, lowering down the labor costs become important when the product is not a necessity and therefore, there is a little possibility to pass additional costs on to consumer. Such periods, level of employment and wages rise in decline in employment and wages. This makes workers unhappy and destroys good industrial relations.