Global Industrial Relations (Global HRM)
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Toggle navigation Additional Book Information. Description Table of Contents Editor s Bio. Summary Breaking new ground and drawing on contributions from the leading academics in the field, this notable volume focuses specifically on industrial relations. Informative and revealing, the text provides an overview of the industrial relations systems of nine regions North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Africa, and India and is divided into two distinct sections covering: Multinationals, Globalization and Industrial Relations.
Many provisions negotiated in the past gave workers and the union rights that were later guaranteed by law. Despite this redundancy, the provisions still appear in the contract as a hedge against changes in the law, and to allow the union the option of taking violations to impartial arbitration rather than the courts. The Bethlehem agreement runs from 1 August to 1 August It covers 17, workers in six plants.
The full agreement is pages long; 17 pages are devoted to safety and health. Section 1 of the safety and health article pledges the company and the union to cooperate in the objective of eliminating accidents and health hazards. It obligates the company to provide safe and healthful workplaces, obey federal and state law, provide employees with the necessary protective equipment free of charge, provide chemical safety information to the union and inform workers of the hazards and controls for toxic substances. The section also specifies how disputes over protective equipment are to be resolved, requires the company to notify the union of all potentially disabling accidents, sets up a system of joint accident investigation, requires the company to gather and supply to the union certain safety and health statistics, and establishes an extensive safety and health training programme for all employees.
Under this provision, a worker cannot be disciplined for acting in good faith and on the basis of objective evidence, even if a subsequent investigation shows that the hazard did not in fact exist. Section 5 states that alcoholism and drug abuse are treatable conditions, and sets up a programme of rehabilitation.
Section 6 establishes an extensive programme for controlling carbon monoxide, a serious hazard in primary steel production. Section 8 requires the company to keep individual medical records confidential except in certain limited circumstances. However, workers have access to their own medical records, and may release them to the union or to a personal physician.
In addition, physicians for the company are required to notify workers of adverse medical findings. Section 10 establishes a programme for investigating and controlling the hazards of video display terminals. Section 11 establishes full-time safety representatives in each plant, chosen by the union but paid by the company. Fixed rail equipment is the leading cause of death by traumatic injury in the American steel industry. However, safety and health seldom was an explicit issue in early labour struggles.
Workers in dangerous jobs were overwhelmed by more pressing problems, such as low wages, crushing hours of work and the arbitrary power of factory and mine owners. Safety hazards were obvious in the daily toll of injury and death, but occupational health was not well understood. As a result, the grievances of nineteenth-century workers rarely manifested themselves in campaigns for safer conditions Corn However, safety and health sometimes joined other issues in early labour struggles. In the late s, workers in the textile industry in the United States began to agitate for shorter working hours.
Many of the workers were women, as were the leaders of such rudimentary unions as the female labour reform associations of New England. The proposed hour day was seen mostly as an issue of general welfare. They had little success in winning recognition from the mill owners, or action from the legislature Foner Other union actions dealt more with the effects of occupational hazards than with their prevention. Many nineteenth-century unions adopted welfare programmes for their members, including disability payments to the injured and benefits for survivors.
US and Canadian mining unions went one step further, establishing hospitals, clinics and even cemeteries for their members Derickson While unions attempted to negotiate better conditions with employers, most agitation for safety and health in North America was in mines aimed at state and provincial legislatures Fox The Factory Workers Union of Germany had an active industrial hygiene programme by , published education materials on chemical hazards and began a campaign for safeguards against chromate-induced lung cancer, ultimately leading to a change in the production method.
Their work showed the interplay between collective bargaining for safety and health and the factory inspection system. In , for example, trade unions filed complaints with the British factory inspectorate Teleky The agreement has been revised and extended several times; in the original parties were joined by the Federation of Salaried Employees Joint Industrial Safety Council of Sweden North America lagged behind. Formal corporate safety programmes were instituted by some large employers around the turn of the century for a description of such programmes in the steel industry see Brody , or the self-congratulatory Year Book of the American Iron and Steel Institute for AISI The programmes were highly paternalistic, relied more on discipline than education and often were based on the premise that workers themselves were largely to blame for industrial accidents.
However, safety and health as a widespread labour issue came only with the rise of strong unions in the s and s. In , for example, the founding Constitution of the United Steelworkers of America required every local union to establish a safety and health committee. By the mids, joint labour-management safety and health committees had been established in most unionized mines and manufacturing plants and in many other workplaces in the construction and service sector; most union contracts included a section on safety and health.
This kind of bargaining presupposes a succession of demands or proposals, counterproposals and extended deliberations. The process can produce a variety of results: However, collective bargaining can also be understood as a continuous process for solving problems as they arise. This kind of collective bargaining occurs every time a shop steward meets with an area supervisor to settle a dispute or grievance, every time a joint safety and health committee meets to discuss problems in the plant, every time a joint union-management team considers a new company programme. It is this flexibility of collective bargaining which helps ensure its continued viability.
There is, however, one precondition for formal or informal bargaining: Collective bargaining is sometimes seen as a test of strength, in which a gain for one side is a loss for the other. A wage increase, for example, is seen as a threat to profits. If bargaining is seen as a contest, it follows that the most important determinant of the final outcome is the relative power of the parties. Of course, the vast majority of labour negotiations end successfully, without a work stoppage. Nevertheless, it is the threat of one that leads both sides to seek a settlement.
This kind of negotiation is sometimes called positional bargaining, because it begins with each side taking a position, after which both sides move by increments until a compromise is reached, based on their relative strengths. A second model of collective bargaining describes it as a mutual search for an optimum solution Fisher and Ury This kind of bargaining assumes that a proper agreement can lead to gains for both parties. A wage increase, for example, can be offset by greater productivity.
A no-layoff agreement can encourage workers to improve efficiency, since their jobs will not be threatened as a result. What is most important is the ability of each side to understand the interests of the other and to find solutions that maximize both. Occupational safety and health is frequently seen as an ideal subject for mutual gains bargaining, since both sides are interested in avoiding occupational accidents and disease.
In practice, these models of bargaining are not mutually exclusive and both are important. Skilled bargainers will always seek to understand their counterparts and search for areas where both sides can benefit from a wise agreement. However, it is unlikely that a party without power will accomplish its objectives. There will always remain areas where the parties perceive their interests to be different. Good faith negotiation works best when both sides fear the alternative. Power is important even in negotiations over safety and health. An enterprise may be less interested in reducing the accident rate if it can externalize the cost of the accidents.
If injured workers can be replaced easily and cheaply, without substantial compensation, management may be tempted to avoid expensive safety improvements. This is especially true in the case of occupational diseases with long latency periods, where cost of controls is paid when the controls are installed, while the benefits may not accrue for many years. Of course, the legal basis for collective bargaining, the level at which bargaining occurs and even the process of bargaining all vary by country.
The legislation of most industrialized countries includes a system for regulating collective bargaining. Even within Europe, the degree of regulation can differ widely, from a minimal approach in Germany to a much more developed one in France. The legal effect of a collective agreement also varies. It is expected that this variability within Europe will diminish as a result of greater European unification. The level of bargaining also varies. At the other extreme, Austria, Belgium and the Nordic countries tend to have highly centralized bargaining in which most workplaces are subject to a framework agreement negotiated between national federations representing unions and employers.
Sectoral agreements covering particular industries or occupations are common in some countries such as Germany and France. French-speaking African countries tend to follow the example of France and bargain by industry. Some English-speaking developing countries also bargain by industry. In others, multiple trade unions bargain on behalf of different groups of workers in a single enterprise. The level of bargaining partially determines the coverage of collective agreements.
In France and Germany, for example, collective agreements are usually extended to cover everyone coming within the scope of the occupation or industry to which the agreement applies. On the other hand, in the United States and other countries with enterprise-level bargaining, collective agreements cover only those workplaces where the union has been recognized as the bargaining agent.
An even more important factor in determining the coverage of collective bargaining is whether national law facilitates or impedes unionization and collective bargaining. For example, public sector employees are not permitted to bargain collectively in some countries. In others, public sector unions are growing rapidly.
As a result of such factors, the percentage of workers covered by collective agreements varies from a high of almost 90 per cent in Germany and the Nordic countries to under 10 per cent in many developing countries. The legal framework also affects how collective bargaining applies to occupational safety and health. Many countries go further. Most industrialized countries require most enterprises to establish joint safety and health committees.
The Canadian Province of Ontario requires that certified safety and health representatives be chosen by the workers in most workplaces and given a standard course of training at employer expense. The Swedish Work Environment Act requires the appointment of safety delegates by the local trade union organization. Swedish safety delegates have broad rights to information and consultation. Most important, they have the power to suspend dangerous work pending a review by the Swedish Labour Inspectorate. These laws strengthen the collective bargaining process on issues of safety and health.
Mandatory joint safety committees provide a routine mechanism for negotiation. Training gives union representatives the knowledge they need to participate effectively. The right to suspend dangerous work helps keep both parties focused on eliminating the source of danger. Of course, labour agreements are of limited value without an enforcement mechanism. However, most labour agreements in developed countries rely on less disruptive methods of enforcement. In fact, many labour agreements bar strikes or lockouts during the life of the agreement no-strike clauses or peace obligations.
Some restrict them to a limited set of circumstances; for example, the contracts negotiated in the United States between the United Automobile Workers and the major auto companies allow strikes over unsafe working conditions, but not over wages or benefits during the term of the agreement. In some cases, disputes may be resolved by the judicial system, either in the regular courts or in special labour courts or boards. In the United States, for example, a dispute over contract interpretation usually will go to arbitration.
A quasi-judicial body in the United States, the National Labor Relations Board, hears complaints concerning unfair labour practices, such as the failure of one side to bargain in good faith. In many other countries, labour courts fulfil this role. Collective bargaining is a dynamic process in all industrial relations systems where it is practised. The situation in Europe is changing rapidly.
The Nordic countries are characterized by comprehensive working environment agreements negotiated on a national basis, integrated with highly developed national laws. Unionization is very high; labour agreements and the law establish joint committees and worker safety representatives in most workplaces. Collective bargaining mechanisms for safety and health and unionization rates, are less extensive in other European countries. Member States of the European Union face the task of harmonizing national laws under the Single European Act and the Framework Directive on safety and health Hecker European trade unions are seeking to coordinate their efforts, primarily through the European Trade Union Confederation.
There are some signs that national bargaining ultimately will be replaced or, more likely, supplemented by agreements at the European level, although employer resistance to this is high. The first example of such Europe-wide bargaining was over parental leave. Central and Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union, are changing even more rapidly.
Safety and health regulations were extensive under Communism, but rarely enforced. Trade unions existed, but only under the control of the Communist Party. At the enterprise level, unions functioned as workplace labour relations departments, under the control of management, without any sort of bipartite negotiation.
Newly formed independent unions helped precipitate the fall of Communism; sometimes their issues concerned working conditions or such basic sanitary measures as the provision of soap in coal mine wash houses. Today, the old unions are gone or are struggling to reconstitute themselves. The new independent unions are attempting to change from political organizations confronting the government, to collective bargaining organizations representing their members in the workplace. Bad and often deteriorating working conditions will continue to be an important issue.
The Japanese system of worker participation, continuous improvement and extensive training effectively promotes safety and health, but only where safety and health are explicit goals of the enterprise. Most Japanese unions exist only at the enterprise level; negotiations take place through a system of continuous joint consultation Inohara Joint safety and health committees are established by the Labour Safety and Sanitation Law of , as amended. Labour agreements in the United States contain relatively extensive safety and health articles for two reasons.
However, safety and health laws in the United States lack many of the provisions found in the laws of other countries, forcing unions to bargain for rights and protections guaranteed elsewhere by law. For example, joint union-management safety and health committees are generally recognized as an important mechanism for day-to-day cooperation and negotiation between workers and employers.
As a result, unions must bargain for them. And since the rate of unionization is low in the United States, most workers do not have access to joint committees. Many unions in the United States also have negotiated contract clauses barring retaliation against workers who refuse to work under abnormally hazardous conditions, since legal protections are weak and uncertain. Canadian law varies from province to province, although it is generally stronger than in the United States. For example, unions in Canada do not need to negotiate for the existence of safety and health committees, although they may negotiate for larger ones, with more powers.
Safety and health committees are also required under Mexican law. The situation in developing countries is mixed.
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Zimbabwean law has since provided for safety committees, health and safety representatives and health and safety supervisors at all workplaces. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has insisted that worker health and safety representatives must be elected by workers.
Its National Campaign covers these demands: For the ZCTU, a key step in accident prevention has been its training programme to increase effective worker participation in health and safety at the shop floor level. The training for worker representatives has been in carrying out walk-through surveys at workplaces and in reporting on any hazards identified - first to workers and then to management for discussion.
Once in operation, union health and safety representatives have been involved in inspections and in ensuring that injuries are reported. This is particularly important in sectors that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as agriculture. The ZCTU has also demanded an increase in penalties that may be imposed on employers found to have infringed health and safety laws. Virtually all collective bargaining takes place at the enterprise, industry or national level. In contrast, the economy is increasingly global. Such bargaining is a top priority for international labour federations.
It can best be promoted through stronger and more effective international union structures, strong social clauses in world trade agreements and appropriate international instruments, such as those of the International Labour Organization. For example, the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises refers specifically to both collective bargaining and occupational safety and health. Many unions are developing direct links with their counterparts in other countries in order to coordinate their bargaining and provide mutual assistance. One example is the relationship between mining unions in the United States and Colombia Zinn Rapid changes in technology and work organization can overwhelm existing labour agreements.
Some unions have begun to address issues of the external environment in their collective bargaining agreements and in their membership education programmes. A fundamental purpose of trade unions is to take human rights and human welfare out of economic competition — to prevent an enterprise or a nation from seeking a competitive advantage by impoverishing its workers and forcing them to work under dangerous conditions.
Collective bargaining is vital to safety and health. Cooperation between workers, employers and government in the elaboration and implementation of occupational health and safety measures at the national or regional level is common in a significant number of countries. It is not unusual for interest groups and technical experts also to be involved in this process. Such cooperation is highly developed and has been institutionalized in a number of countries by the establishment of consultative and collaborative organizations. These organizations have normally been widely accepted by all labour market participants as there appears to be a general consensus that health and safety at work is a subject of common concern where dialogue between the social partners, the government and other interested parties is extremely important.
The institutions which have been established to facilitate this cooperation vary significantly in form. One approach is to establish consultative organizations either on an ad hoc or a permanent basis to give advice to the government on questions of occupational safety and health policy. The government is normally not obligated to follow the recommendations offered, but in practice they are difficult to ignore and are frequently taken into consideration in the elaboration of government policy.
The other approach is to have the social partners and other interested parties actively cooperate with the government in public institutions which have been established to implement occupational safety and health policy. Bodies at the national level or regional, state or provincial level are normally complemented by structures or arrangements at the industry, enterprise and plant level. Probably the most common form of cooperation involves the establishment of consultative organizations to give advice on policy and standard setting.
Examples of this can vary between a modest approach, which involves the expenditure of relatively few resources, to more institutionalized approaches, which involve more significant amounts of resources. The United States is an example of a country where a more limited approach has been adopted. At the federal level, the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, established pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of , is the principal permanent advisory committee.
This committee, according to the Act, is to be composed of representatives of management, labor, occupational safety and health professionals and the public, with a member of the public acting as the chairperson. In practice, however, this committee has not met frequently. The members of the committee are not compensated and the Secretary of Labor has provided from its budget an executive secretary and other support services as needed.
The costs of maintaining this committee in existence are therefore very low, although budgetary constraints now call even this support into question. A permanent committee of a similar character, the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health, was established in July pursuant to Executive Order to advise the Secretary of Labour on matters relating to the safety and health of federal workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of also provides for the establishment of ad hoc advisory committees to assist in standard-setting functions. These advisory committees are appointed by the Secretary of Labor and are to consist of no more than 15 members, including one or more persons who are designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Secretary of Labor may also appoint one or more representatives of state health and safety agencies, as well as technical experts who could be, for example, representatives of professional organizations of technicians or professionals specializing in occupational health or safety, or of nationally recognized standards-producing organizations. Extensive use has been made of such standard-setting committees, which are sometimes in existence several years to accomplish the work that has been assigned to them. Meetings can be frequent, depending on the nature of the tasks to be performed.
Although committee members are normally not paid, they are normally reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses and support services for the activity of these committees have been paid for by the Department of Labor as well in the past. Committees have been constituted to recommend standards with respect to agriculture, asbestos dust, carcinogens, coke oven emissions, cutaneous hazards, hazardous materials labelling, heat stress, marine terminal facilities, noise, longshoring safety and health, shipyard employment standards and steel erection rules, among other things.
Other ad hoc advisory committees of a similar character have been established pursuant to similar legislation which falls under the authority of the Secretary of Labor. For example, a number of standard-setting committees have been established pursuant to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of The costs involved in the establishment of such standard-setting committees, however, are relatively modest and are characterized by relatively low administrative costs, little infrastructure, voluntary participation by outside parties without compensation and dissolution of the committees upon completion of their tasks.
More elaborate institutionalized forms of consultation are, however, found in other countries. In the Netherlands, for example, the pre-eminent organization is the Working Environment Council, which was established pursuant to the Working Environmental Council Act The Council gives its views to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, either when asked or on its own initiative, comments on proposed new acts and decrees and can bring forward its own proposals for new policy or legislation. The Council also gives its views about the advisability of making grants-in-aid for research on working environment issues, about the issuance of exemptions, the formulation of government guidance and the policy of the Labour Inspectorate.
The Council meets every month. In addition, the Council has approximately 15 different working committees for specific issues and, in addition, ad hoc working groups are established for detailed subjects when the subject matter justifies it. Within the working committees and working groups, external experts play an important role and these working organizations prepare reports and papers which are discussed at Council meetings and often form the basis for positions which are subsequently taken.
The recommendations of the Council are comprehensive and are published. More than persons are involved in the work of the Council and its subsidiary organizations and thus it is supported by significant financial and administrative resources. Other less prominent consultative organizations exist in the Netherlands for more specific occupational safety and health issues.
Examples of other countries which have consultative organizations of a bipartite, tripartite or multipartite character to give recommendations on occupational safety and health policy and standards include: A number of countries have bipartite, tripartite or multipartite organizations which are also active in policy implementation. Normally far larger than advisory committees, councils or commissions, these collaborative organizations have responsibility for implementing government policy, frequently manage large budgetary resources and often have significant numbers of personnel.
The Commission was established pursuant to the provisions of the Health and Safety Act It has as its mandate to ensure that adequate measures are taken to secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work; to protect the public against risks to health and safety arising out of work; to control storage and use of explosives, highly flammable materials and other dangerous substances; and to control the emission of noxious or offensive substances from the workplace.
The Commission has nine persons, all of whom are appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. The Commission is assisted by a number of subsidiary organizations figure 1. The most important of these is the Health and Safety Executive, a distinct statutory body which consists of a governing body of three persons appointed by the Commission with the approval of the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for carrying out the substantive work of the Commission, including the enforcement of health and safety standards under the Health and Safety Act and other functions delegated to it by the Commission.
Local authorities also perform enforcement functions with respect to certain health and safety legislation as well. In addition, the Commission is assisted in its work by a number of advisory committees which are, depending on the committee, bipartite, tripartite or multipartite in character. These advisory committees are organized both by subject matter and industry. There are advisory committees for each of the following subjects: There are also advisory committees for the following industries: The resources at the disposition of the Commission and the Health and Safety Executive are substantial.
Other examples of collaborative organizations in this field can be found in Canada. The Centre also promotes health and safety in the workplace, facilitates the establishment of high standards of occupational health and safety and assists in the development of programmes and policies to reduce or eliminate occupational hazards. The Centre, created by an act of parliament in , was given a tripartite governing body to ensure its impartiality in occupational health and safety matters, including being an unbiased source of information.
Its governing council consists of a chairperson and 12 governors — four representing the federal, provincial and territorial governments; four representing labour; and four representing employers. In some provinces there are also collaborative organizations. The Commission has two functions. The first is to develop and implement occupational health and safety policy, including the establishment of standards and their enforcement; the provision of support for the implementation of prevention programmes, participation mechanisms and health services; and the provision of training, information and research services.
The second is to provide payment to workers injured on the job and to manage an insurance fund for this purpose to which employers must contribute. The board of directors of the Institute is the same as that of the Commission for Occupational Health and Safety, notwithstanding that it is an independent institution. The Ontario Workplace Health and Safety Agency, established in by amendment of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, also has responsibility for developing and implementing policy and for managing occupational health and safety programmes in Ontario.
Of these representatives, one representative of labour and one of management serve as joint chief executive officers. One country with a long tradition of collaborative organizations in the field of occupational safety and health, Sweden, decided to reject this form of organization in and has subsequently used advisory organizations instead. Hence, organizations in the field of occupational safety and health such as the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, the National Institute of Occupational Health and the Working Life Fund, which had formerly been collaborative in character in terms of a tripartite or multipartite governing board, were restructured.
Although some collaborative institutions, dealing notably with questions of economic policy, training and employment, were dismantled in Great Britain during the s and s by successive conservative governments, the Health and Safety Commission was not affected. Also, in Canada such collaborative institutions have been created at both the federal level and in some provinces precisely because a collaborative approach was deemed more useful in finding a consensus between the labour market parties and because administration of the occupational safety and health laws would appear more impartial and fair to those affected by them.
On a broader level, however, there are two national consultative bodies which are also concerned with occupational safety and health issues as part of their more general mandate to address all important social and economic questions of national importance. Although historically its main function has concerned questions of wage policy, it also expresses its views on other conditions of work. The other national consultative body of importance is the Social and Economic Council, which was founded in pursuant to the Act on Statutory Trade Associations. In making its appointments, the Crown also tries to have a balance between the major political parties.
The Council is independent of the government and is financed by a mandatory tax on employers. The Council has a multimillion dollar budget and its own Secretariat. The Council normally meets once a month and is assisted by a number of permanent and ad hoc committees, which are frequently also constituted on a tripartite basis. The government is required by law to submit all proposals for social and economic legislation to the Council for its advice and any labour legislation — which would include proposals concerning occupational safety and health — comes before the Council.
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It should be added that a number of countries require that workplace health and safety committees should or may be established for enterprises which have more than a certain number of employees. These committees are bipartite in nature and include representatives of the employers and the workers. These committees normally have as their function to investigate and propose all ways and means of actively contributing to measures undertaken to ensure the best possible health and safety conditions in the establishment, a role which can include the promotion and monitoring of health and safety conditions in the enterprise to ensure, among other things, adherence to applicable law and regulations.
These joint committees are normally advisory in character. Workplace health and safety committees, for example, are legally required in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. They complement other forms that may exist at the industrial or sectoral level and the national level, such as bodies for tripartite cooperation. The mechanisms used for encouraging employee participation vary so widely that it is impossible to review them fully here.
The main forms that have attracted recent interest, particularly in the field of work organization, are reviewed below; to these could be added the historical example of self-management by workers in former Yugoslavia. Many developing countries have also adopted legislative initiatives with a view to having works councils or similar structures set up e.
The relationship of these bodies to trade unions and collective bargaining has been the subject of considerable legislation and negotiation. Workers may participate in decision making either directly themselves or indirectly through their representatives — trade unions or elected employee representatives.
Since the s, there has been a spread of direct participation by workers, if the term participation is understood as the exercise of any influence on their work or how it is to be carried out. Accordingly, a simple exercise of work enrichment may be a form of promoting direct participation of workers. It may also be on a group basis — for example, in quality circles or similar small-group activities.
Teamwork in itself constitutes a form of group-based direct participation. Direct participation may be integrated into decisions about daily work, or it may take place outside daily work, such as in a voluntary quality circle that cuts across the group structure habitually used. With consultative participation, employees are encouraged and enabled, either as individuals or members of a group, to make their views known, but it is up to management to accept or reject their proposals. The term works councils describes arrangements for the represen-tation of employees, usually at the plant level although they also exist at higher levels company, group of companies, industry, European Union.
The relationship to trade unions is often delineated by legislation or clarified by collective agreement, but tensions between these institutions sometimes remain all the same. Several Central and Eastern European countries, such as Hungary and Poland, have enacted legislation to encourage the emergence of works councils. They are found as well in some countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America; part of the post-apartheid labour law reform in South Africa, for instance, included establishing a form of works councils alongside trade union structures.
The possible powers of works councils are best illustrated by the example of Germany, although in some ways it is a unique case. Weiss describes the works council in that country as the form of institutionalized representation of interests for employees within an establishment. A works council enjoys certain rights to information, consultation as in all countries and co-determination much more rare. Co-determination rights also extend to guidelines for staff selection and appraisal, in-service training and measures affecting individual workers such as grading, transfer and dismissal.
The German works council is empowered to conclude works agreements at the enterprise level and can initiate complaints where it believes the agreement is not being honoured. Included in the areas of obligatory collective co-determination are accident prevention and health protection, works rules, working time, the fixing of performance-related pay rates, the manner of payment, general principles governing holidays and others.
The works council also has the right to take the initiative and can refer a matter to the establishment-level arbitration committee for enforcement. The right to consultation affords the works council a chance to play a part in the decisions made by the employer, but failure to consult will not invalidate the decision. The subjects on which consultation is required include protection against dismissal, protection against technical hazards, training and preparation of a social plan.
Works councils are bound to conduct their business impartially, without regard to race, religion or creed, nationality, origin, political or union activity, sex or age of the employees. The employer provides the facilities for the works council, funds it and is liable for its actions. Works councils are elected separately for manual and non-manual workers in Germany. Special works council elections are held; while there is no legal connection between these representatives and trade union officers in fact, they often coincide.
In Austria and Germany, special representation is ensured for disabled workers and young workers and trainees. Works council members receive no remuneration for this, but necessarily incurred expenses are reimbursed. Members are guaranteed retention of their pay level and job grading after the term of office has expired and enjoy special protection against dismissal. They are entitled to release from work to conduct works council business and attend training. Many countries feature less ambitious works council schemes that provide for information and consultation rights.
Quality circles and other similar group activities were rapidly introduced in a large number of enterprises in some Western European countries e. Their spread was considerably later in some other Western countries e. Quality circles are generally expected to produce two types of effect: In Japan the emphasis has been placed more on the first aspect and in Europe and North America on the second.
There are also structural differences: Today, the emphasis of QWL programmes is more on enhancing productivity and competitiveness Ozaki In some of the countries where quality circles were experimented with widely in the s, such as France and the United Kingdom, there has been a certain disenchantment with their relative ineffectiveness in producing the expected results.
Many circles disappeared a few years after their creation; many others exist on paper, but are in fact moribund. Certain principles of TQM have implications for employee participation: Thus TQM encourages job enlargement and enrichment leading to semi-autonomous work groups. It also promotes horizontal coordination in a firm through, for example, the use of ad hoc, multi functional or interdepartmental project teams. The practice of establishing joint project groups to study the best ways of introducing technological or organizational changes through the joint efforts of managers and workers is a traditional feature of labour relations in some countries, such as Sweden.
A joint project group is normally composed of managers, workplace union representatives and shop-floor workers and often assisted by outside experts. The management and the union concerned often establish joint project groups separately on four issues: The Swedish model of joint project groups presents a notable example of direct participation of shop-floor workers within a framework of established collective labour relations. The system is also found in other countries, such as Germany and Japan.
Semi-autonomous group work and teamwork are both forms of on-line direct participation of shop-floor workers in work-related decisions, unlike the above-mentioned joint project group work, which is a form of off-line participation. The main difference between the two forms of participation lies in the degree of autonomy which the members of the team or group enjoy in organizing their work. Semi-autonomous group work was used extensively in Scandinavia, although recently there has been a move back to a more traditional approach; there have been experiments with it elsewhere in Europe as well.
While experiments with semi-autonomous group work are generally declining, teamwork is spreading fast throughout Western countries. The degree of autonomy which a team enjoys varies widely from one company to another. Team structure also differs. In many countries, team leaders are usually appointed by management, but in a few countries e. Frequently, the creation of teams is accompanied by significant changes in the role of first-line supervisors; they tend to take on greater responsibility for advising team members and for both vertical and horizontal communication, but lose their supervisory role.
This means they are to put the interests of the company first and foremost and are bound by the same duty of secrecy as other board members. It is a phenomenon now seen in Eastern and Western Europe and North America, but remains rather rare elsewhere. Sometimes workers are able to scrape enough capital together to purchase a firm that would otherwise be going out of business.
The rationale behind these situations is that a worker who identifies financially with a company will work harder for its success.
Important variables are the form of participation return on investment rights or control rights , its degree amount and timing of returns and the reasons behind financial participation. In any event, these practices are largely reserved to Europe and North America. If cooperative ventures are considered part of this phenomenon, however, the notion of workers being stakeholders in their work is much more widespread throughout the world.
It would be interesting to study whether and to what extent employee ownership of a firm or of shares in it has an effect on the workplace safety and health record. The legislation of a number of countries provides for the establishment of such committees and for such representatives e.
Smaller companies, variously defined, are usually excluded from such mandatory measures, but they, like larger units, often set up health and safety committees on their own initiative. In addition, many collective bargaining agreements have led to the creation of such committees and to the designation of health and safety representatives e. The committees and representatives vary in regard to their relationship to trade unions and works councils, their election or appointment, their duties and functions and their impact.
Where employers maintain occupational health services or have safety experts, a fruitful relationship with them can also promote the success of joint health and safety committees. They also reported an important role for joint consultative committees where employee representatives were appointed in other ways.
However, some research also indicates that joint health and safety committees fall short of the expectations held out for them. The reasons suggested for this differ: A parallel system will be used for worker representatives on a joint labour-management health and safety committee which, while bipartite, will not always have equal representation from both sides.
The mechanism chosen will often reflect the existence of other labour relations institutions in a country: Works councils in the Netherlands may delegate their powers to a safety, health and welfare committee. A strong link, if not identity, between trade union representatives and health and safety representatives is usually seen as desirable as in Quebec Canada , Ireland, Norway and Sweden , but where trade union density is low this runs the risk of depriving large numbers of workers of representation rights in relation to health and safety. They are in certain instances, such as in France and some provinces of Canada, directly involved in the enforcement of health and safety regulations.
Prior consultation of the joint committee is sometimes necessary before an employer can make any significant change in health, safety or working conditions as in France and the Netherlands. In Belgium intercompany health services are under the control of a joint committee. They are entitled to at least some time off with pay, as well as to have the necessary means the definition of which is often debated to exercise their functions.
In addition, while in office some are specially shielded from economic layoffs redundancies or given extra protection from dismissal as in Belgium. Frequently, worker health and safety representatives have a right to receive specialized training as in Denmark. Such representatives and joint committees are no substitute for the effective government enforcement of health and safety standards or for what may be achieved by means of collective bargaining. Where they operate as effective institutions, joint health and safety committees can be a valuable tool for identifying problems and raising awareness of hazards, thus potentially reducing the incidence of injury, disease and death on the job.
The extent to which they are effective, however, depends on a large range of variables in the particular labour relations system and in the strategic approach taken to health and safety at the workplace. There are many reasons for this. One is that, in a general way, trade unions and employers do not have the same view of participation. The fact remains that in most workplaces around the world, there is little effective employee participation at the enterprise level. The first level of participation and indeed a prerequisite for it, is the provision of information, followed by consultation.
A high degree of non-participation also characterizes other regions. As Vogel notes:. The basis of participation lies in the recognition that distinct interests are in play giving rise to specific rationales The essential legitimacy of participation is to be found outside the firm in a democratic requirement which refuses to admit that the self-determination of individuals should be confined within the rules of political representation and in a view of health conceived as a purposeful, social process through which individuals and communities develop strategies for self-fulfilment and defence.