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HRM IIB Labour Relations

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									HRM IIB: Labour Relations

            Definition and Origins
            of Industrial Relations
    Overview of Lecture

       Historical origins of industrial relations
        –   Linked to the changing nature of capitalism and
            different forms of production
       Definition of IR:
        –   Various definitions
        –   Understand the basic concepts

    Origins of Industrial Relations

       Industrial relations is an important and
        fascinating subject.
       Its importance lay in the world of work and how
        it shapes industrial structures and economic
       This eventually shapes the type of people and
        the kind of society we live in.

    Origins of IR

       In this lecture we will begin by tracing the back
        the origins of industrial relations
       We will then consider a working definition of
        industrial relations

        Origins of Industrial Relations
       Under Feudalism there was no industrial
        relations, it is specific to capitalism.
       To understand the origins of industrial
        relations we need to understand the evolution
        of work under capitalism.
       Industrial relations arose as a direct
        consequence of the way capitalism organised

    Origins of IR

       Under feudalism we had a master and serf
       Serfs were bound to the service of the lord or
        landowner and remained attached to them
       If the ownership of the land changed the serfs
        were transferred to the new owner
       The serfs worked part of the week for the lord
        and part of the week for themselves

    Origins of IR

       In return they received the protection of the
        land lord
       The serfs were not slaves in that they were not
        owned by the lord and they had freedom of
       However their economic freedoms were often
        limited and they were bound to the land lord

    Origins of IR

       Under there also existed the master craftsman, who
        worked independently and created useful items
       For example: furniture, ox wagons, boats, and this was
        sold on the market
       Two predominant forms of work under feudalism:
        –   Agriculture/serfdom, craftsman/independent labourer
       Under feudalism there was no industrial relations

    Origins of IR

       The change from feudalism to capitalism saw
        the emergence of industrial relations as a
       To understand the emergence of industrial
        relations we have to understand the evolution
        of work under capitalism.
       The change from feudalism to capitalism was
        marked by the industrial revolution.

     Origins of IR

        This process began in the 14th & 15th century in Britain.
        The full impact of this was felt in the middle of the 18th
         and the 19th century.
        Craft work and agricultural work the major form of
        Relationship was between landowner and tenants and
         between craftsman and apprentice.

     Origins of IR

        Industrial revolution changed the nature of work, forms
         of work organisation and nature of production.
        The first stage of the reorganisation of production was
         bringing together many craftsman under one roof.
        This is referred to as the stage of cooperation.
        The craftsman, for various reasons, were deprived of
         their tools and brought together by the factory owner
         under one roof.

     Origins of IR

        The next stage was the stage of manufacture
        This is when work tasks are broken down or
         fragmentised and division of labour is introduced. (E.G.
         Making a chair)
        The factory owners attempt to increase productivity by
         removing some of the skills of the craft work by
         breaking down work into simpler steps
        This process is called deskilling

     Origins of IR

        The craftsman is still in charge of the work and has skill
         but his skill is being eroded and simplified.
        The artisan is now being transformed into a worker and
         this changes the social relation between the factory
         owner and the worker.
        Two processes begin to take place at this stage:
        The first is de-qualification where the skills of the
         artisan is broken down.

     Origins of IR

        This takes away control of the work from the
        The second is hyper-qualification of a few
         individuals who in turn are in charge of
         systematically fragmentising the work of the
        They are also involved in adapting the tools of
         the trade to a narrow focus so as to increase

     Origins of IR

        Craft workers and their apprentice were placed
         under a single roof.
        This was the formation of the factory.
        Skilled work was slowly broken down.
        We enter the world of mass production.

     Origins of IR

        This is the world of large factories.
        Movement of people from villages and rural
         areas to the cities in search of employment.
        People uprooted from their traditional way of
         life and traditional forms of work.
        Creation of a new class of people: proletariat or
         working class.

     Origins of IR

        Society now becomes divided between the
         working class on the one hand and owners and
         managers on the other hand.
        Human beings now have to sell their labour
         power in order to survive – wage labour.
        We now enter the era of mass employment
         and also soon mass unemployment.

     Origins of IR

        In the area of work we find new patterns of
         work organisations emerging.
        Emergence of the assembly line and dull
         repetitive work.
        1914 Henry Ford introduced the assembly line
         (via conveyer belts).

     Origins of IR

        Ford fixed the worker at one place and made
         the object of work (or product) flow.
        This meant more control over the labour of a
        This also allowed for control over the rate with
         which work was produced –(productivity).

     Origins of IR

        We also see the emergence of Taylorism or
         scientific management.
        What Taylor did was measure the amount of
         work done by a worker in a given period of
        His aim was to scientifically determine the best
         way of performing a task.

     Origins of IR

        Taylor attempted to do two things:
        Increase the amount of work within a specific
         period – productivity.
        Simplify work by breaking it down into simpler
         part – deskilling.
        In order to achieve his tasks Taylor conducted
         a series of time and motion studies.

     Origins of IR

        The aim of Taylor was to fragment work down
         to its most basic motion.
        His experiments lasted over 26 years.
        Taylor’s work need to be understood within the
         context of the great depression, mass
         unemployment, falling profitability and social

     Origins of IR

        Reaction to Taylor’s work came in the form of
         the Human Relations Movement.
        Taylor was criticised for being over-rational and
        Between 1927 –1932 a series of experiments
         were conducted at the Hawthorne Works of the
         Western Electric Company in Chicago.

     Origins of IR

        What these experiments established was that
         work conditions and monetary incentives did
         not have a direct relation to output and
        What it found instead was that informal work
         organisation and work groups had an effect on
         output and behaviour.

     Origins of IR

        Elton Mayo who conducted the experiments
         argued that the worker should be seen as a
         human and social being.
        This gave rise to the Human Relations school.
        Mayo used the Hawthorn experiments to argue
         that social disorder and conflict rose from the
         breakdown of established society.

     Origins of IR

        He promoted the idea of training managers and
         administrators in social skills that would allow
         for the maintenance of “spontaneous co-
         operation” in industry.
        This was the beginning of the Human Relations
         School (HRS).
        The HRS was criticised for misunderstanding
         the causes and nature of industrial conflict.

     Origins of IR

        The HRS was also criticised for ignoring trade
         unions and industrial relations.
        It was out of the criticism of Mayo and his HRS
         that studies into industrial relations grew.
        In 1948 the Institute of Industrial Relation
         Research was founded in the USA.


        IR starts of with the employment relationship.
        This starts as soon as a person is willing to
         accept compensation for in exchange for work
         – employment contract.
        This relationship has a legal dimension that is
         governed by Labour Legislation.


        The legal nature of the employment
         relationship means there are rights and
         obligations on both sides
        Management for example has to pay wages
         and salaries, provide leave, safe working
         conditions and other duties defined in the law
        Not to unjustly discriminate against workers


        Employees are obligated to obey legitimate
         work related instructions, to be honest and to
         promote the business of the employer.
        The employment relationship is embodied in
         the contract of employment, and is an
         individual relationship between employer and
        It has legal protection.


        Industrial relations begins with the employment
         relationship but moves beyond the employment
        Without the employment relationship there will
         be no industrial relations.
        Industrial relations usually involves employees
         as a group and employers as a group.


        Important to remember that not all relations at
         work affect industrial relations.
        Horseplay & conversation between workers not
         part of industrial relation.
        The allocations of tasks by a supervisor to
         members of his team.
        The above is too trivial to be part of IR.


        On the other hand there are decisions taken by
         employers and managers that affect industrial
        For E.G. the opening or closing down of a
        Introducing new technology or work
        Allocating a specific distribution of profits.


        Accepted area of study with its own professors
         and university departments.
        Many definitions of industrial relations.
        Definitions are not all clear and many disagree
         on a general definition.
        Earliest definition by Dunlop:


        The “central task of a theory of industrial relations is to
         explain why particular rules are established in
         particular industrial-relations systems and how and
         why they change in response to changes affecting the
         system…the rules of the workplace and work
         community become the general focus of enquiry to be
         explained by theoretical analysis…the study of
         industrial relations may therefore be described as a
         study of the institutions of job regulation”.


        We look at a definition by a South African
         author Mark Anstey:
        “Essentially, industrial relations is the process
         through which employers and employees
         interact, and through which they regulate
         conflict at the workplace”


        Dunlop emphasis rules in his definition.
        The world of work is pervaded with rules.
        To define IR in terms of a set of rules and
         regulations is to confine and restrict IR.
        This implies that IR is about maintaining
         stability and regulation in industry.
        Like Dunlop Anstey also emphasis the
         containment and control of conflict.


        IR is about understanding the processes
         through which disagreement and disputes are
        In other words we need to look at the way
         employers and employees interact that leads to
         problems and conflict.
        Within this context we need to look at relations
         around the control of work.


        Control of work is central to a study of IR.
        Further we need to understand the sources as
         well as the consequence of industrial conflict.
        Not only do we need to know where conflict
         come from but we also need to know what are
         the results of conflict. E.g. – dissatisfaction wrt
         wages leads to poor work performance.


        Another definition is one used by Richard
        “Industrial relations is the study of the
         processes of control over work relations; and
         among these processes, those involving
         collective worker organisation and action are of
         particular concern”.


        Hyman’s definition makes reference to the
         “processes of work control”. In other words we
         are concerned with the way managers manage
         and the consequences thereof.
        Hyman also makes reference to “collective
         worker organisations” in other words trade


        Hyman also makes reference to collective
         “action” by workers.
        Worker action can be individualistic or
         collective, it is the collective action of workers
         that affects industrial relations.
        The individual worker has very little power and
         it is only through collective action that
         management is forced to change.


        Important is that the relationship arises from a
         work situation
        This relationship is between people
        It can be individual or collective
        A collective involves a trade union
        The relationship involves rules, regulations,
         processes, structures and institutions

     The Labour Relationship

        Human relationship:
         –   Between people at work
         –   Governed by the way work is organised
         –   It has all the dynamics of other human relations
         –   It has its own unique characteristics and problems
         –   Often employees work for the money and not
             because they like the job – cause problems

     The Labour Relationship

        The employer is not interested in the
         –   Except in the way this person can labour
         –   How hard and fast the person can work
         –   The skills and the abilities of the person
         –   This creates the division between those who work
             and those who own and manage


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