What is IR ???
Relationships between employees & employers within the
Employees: Workers seek to improve the terms and conditions of
employment. They exchange views with management and voice
grievances. They also want to share decision making of
management. Workers generally unite to form unions against the
management and get support from these unions
Employers: Employers possess certain rights. They have the right
to hire and fire them. Management can also affect workers’
interests by exercising their right to relocate, close or merge the
factory or to introduce technological changes.
Government: The central and state government influences and
regulates industrial relations through laws, rules, agreements.
IR is concerned with:
Focusing on Collectives (not Individuals):
How two parties (Employers & Labour Unions) interact with
IR covers ALL aspects of the Employment relationship:
HR, employee relations, & labour relations.
Major Role: Manage relationship between Employing
organisations & relevant organs of state, e.g. CCMA
Impact on Productivity
• Complex relationships arise out of the Workplace which
impacts on productivity
• These Include:
1. Relationships between workers
2. Relationship between workers & their employer.
3. Relationship between employers.
4. Relationships employers & workers have with organizations
formed to promote their respective interests
5. Relations between organizations at all levels.
6. IR deals with processes through which these relationships
are expressed: Collective bargaining, Grievance & Dispute
settlement, Management of conflict between
employers, workers, & trade unions.
Levels of IR
• FORMULATION OF LABOUR RELATIONS POLICY:
• e.g. Tripartism, LRA, State.
• COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
• Btw employer organisations & unions, determination of wages, terms of
• MORE DIRECT RELATIONSHIP
• Btw employers & workers, although unions often represent workers
“Sound” IR System
Employment creation, job
Raising living standards
through better working terms
workplace conflict, resolution
of industrial conflict through
Theoretical Perspectives &
Ideologies of IR
• PLURALIST: Employer & workers have conflicting goals but are
• UNITARISM: Regards the employer & workers as having
similar goals & being committed to achieving those goals.
• RADICALISM: Views workers as owners of capital, & social
corporatism views that employers & workers have the same
goals, who appreciate structured conflict & the presence of
• Distributive Justice: Employees must perceive FAIRNESS of
outcomes & distribution of Justice.
• Procedural Justice: Employees must perceive that processes &
procedures are FAIR.
• Interpersonal Justice: Employees must perceive the treatment
they receive from employers as FAIR & they must feel that
they are communicated to about the REASONS for decisions.
• Power can be INTERPERSONAL or SOCIAL UNIT POWER.
• INTERPERSONAL POWER: Between employer & Employee
• SOCIAL UNIT POWER: Between employers as represented by
employers’ organizations & employees as represented by
• Therefore, Power is gained through:
Reward, legitimacy, coercion, knowledge or reference.
• Dynamic process concerning change, which influences
• Caused by:
Lack of resources
• Co-operation & Participation dynamics: Co-operation & jointdecision-making & participation is KEY in employment
relationship to avoid conflict.
Roles/Functions of Trade
Recruitment of members
Liaising with Union officials
Consulting & Negotiating with employers
Ensuring management sticks to the rules/law
Organising & attending meetings
Participating in workplace forums & health & safety committees
Engaging in Collective Bargaining
Creation of Collective Agreements
Enrolling members to the Union
Discussing workplace problems/issues with management
Acting as liaison between employees & management discussing
valid complaints, ensuring management uses official languages to
communicate to discuss particular resolutions of management with
• Collective process in which representatives of both
management & employees participate.
• Continuous process which aims at establishing stable
relationships between parties involved.
• Not only involves Bargaining agreement, but also
Implementation of agreement.
• Attempts to achieve discipline in the industry.
• Flexible approach, as parties involved have to adopt flexible
attitude towards negotiations.