The partnership approach: A new way to the management of employee relations

Essay by emma.pUniversity, Bachelor'sD-, April 2004

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The subject of this study is the relationships between employees, employers and their representatives in the United Kingdom and mainly the changes that have occurred in the last few years.

What is meant exactly by employee relations? What has changed since the Industrial Revolution? Salaman 2000 defines employee relations as a 'reflection of the development of more diverse employment patterns, the growth of high tech and commercial sectors, reduced levels of unionisation and use of management strategies aimed at individualising the employment relationship', in other terms it is the new management of all the variables which influence the work namely the management style, the level of employee's motivation, the work environment, job satisfaction, the objectives of the company etc.

We can differentiate three phases in the evolution of employee relations since the end of the second world war, the third one being the partnership approach.

Until 1979 (date of the election of the Conservative Party), work relations were based on collective bargaining and collective agreement aiming to 'determine and regulate, in varying degrees, the terms on which individuals will be employed' (Flanders 1968), with a strong voluntarism encouraged massively and informally.

The trade unions (basically, it is an association of wage earners, totally independent of employer's pressure, who struggle to improve work conditions) had a lot of power and everything was negotiated through deals. In fact, a Trade Union, through collective bargaining can 'force employers to deal with labour as a collective identity, rather than isolated individuals, and so, secure better the terms and condition of employment'

(Sidney and Beatrice Webb, 1920).

However, when the conservative party was elected in 1979, everything changed. The new government introduced a lot a measures to limit the role of trade unions.

In addition, it 'introduced an 'enterprise culture' in which...