A conceptual analysis of industrial relations


The concept of industrial relations means the relationship between employees and management in the day-to-day working of industry. But the concept has a wide meaning. When taken in the wider sense, industrial relations is a “set of functional interdependence involving historical, economic, social, psychological demographic, technological, occupational, political and legal variables.� According to Dale Yoder, industrial relations is a “whole field of relationship that exists because of the necessary collaboration of men and women in the employment process of an industry.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), “Industrial Relations deal with either the relationship between the state and employers’ and workers’ organizations or the relation between the occupational organization and themselves. The concept of industrial relations has been extended to denote the relations of the state with employers, workers, and their organizations. The subject therefore includes individual relations and joint consultations between employers and work people at their work place, collective relations between employers and their organizations and trade unions and part played by the State in regulating these relations.

Analysis of the Definitions

The analysis of the definitions on industrial provides on the following points.

1. Industrial relations are the relations mainly between employees and employers.

2. Industrial relations are the outcome of the practice of human resources management and employment relations.

3. These relations emphasis on accommodating other party’s interest, values and needs. Parties develop skills of adjusting to and cooperating with each other.

4. Industrial relations are governed by the system of rules and regulations concerning work, work place and working community.

5. The main purpose is to maintain harmonious relations between employees and employers by solving their problems through grievance procedure and collective bargaining.

6. The government influences and shapes industrial relations through industrial relations policies, rules, agreements, mediation, awards, acts etc.

7. Trade Unions is another important institution in the industrial relations. Trade unions influence and shape the industrial relations through collective bargaining.

Characteristics of Industrial Relations

Characteristics of industrial relations include:

(a) Industrial relations are outcome of employment relationship in an industrial enterprise.

(b) Industrial relations develop the skills and methods of adjusting to and cooperating with each other.

(c) Industrial relations system creates complex rules and regulations to maintain harmonious relations.

(d) The Government-involves to shape the industrial relations through laws, rules, agreements, awards etc.

(e) The important factors of industrial relations are employees and their organizations, employer and their associations and Government.

Peculiar Features of Industrial Work

The industrial work has acquired special features with the introduction of large scale and modern industrialization. The special features of modern industrialization have changed the work environment and work organization. The peculiar features of industrial work include:

(i) The industry is the association of large number of workers, supervisors, managerial personnel, consultants and other stakeholders. Industry brings all these people together as a group to do the same work. This association brings group relationship. This relationship affects social, economic, political and cultural life of the community.

(ii) The large-scale industrialization needs highly specialized human resources . Further, it needs diversified skills and dynamic talent. The specialized and diversified skills demand continuous training of employees. In addition, to blue-collar and green hands workers, white–collar and gold-collar workers have emerged.

(iii) The industrial work reduces workers independence.

(iv) The large-scale and developed industries resort to tall organization which reflects centralization of authority and responsibility. Tall organizations are also characterized by rules and regulations. Workers develop a feel of alienation and loss of freedom. Workers are treated as a “cog in the machine,� in large organizations.

(v) The workers new to the industry find it difficult to follow the rules and regulation and lead highly disciplined organizational life.

(vi) The industrial jobs are highly insecure due to changes in production process, technology and consequent downsizing of the organization and organizational exit.

(vii) Wage/Salary is the main factor to attract workers and skill and abilities are the main factors to get suitable job.

(viii) Industrial employment is mostly based on economic considerations. Employers buy the labor and workers sell it.

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