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Human Resource Management

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The following extract is taken from an essay produced on the topic of Human Resource Management

The study of trade unions represents the collective forms of negotiation, participation as well as conflict resolution between employers and employees (Blyton and Turnbull, 2004). Trade unions are formal and recognised bodies that operate within a given structure of policies and procedures. According to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 “an organisation (whether permanent or temporary) consisting wholly or mainly of workers of one or more descriptions whose principal purpose includes the regulation of relations between workers of that description and employers or employers’ associations” (www.opsi.gov.uk).

The representation of interests between employees creates a new set of power relations that are differ from individual forms of bargaining (Blyton and Turnbull, 2004). As figure 1.3 illustrates trade unions are mainly seeking to exercise influence to the employee through a collective form of power. For example, introducing changes to job regulation, social change or to the members’ services, requires a collective form of participation. In this context, the individual’s interests are defended through his/her representatives. In the context of collective bargaining, negotiation is exercised by the individual against his/her immediate employees or manager. The degree of power exercised here differs from trade unions, in that the individual does not have the same collective representation. For example,  an employer’s responding to introducing changes in the work place (e.g. introducing benefits, new working conditions, higher pay, etc) is negotiated with his/her immediate colleagues or superiors.

Salamon (2000) argues that the establishment of trade unions varies between countries in terms of legal context in which they need to participate or the degree of influence that can exercise against the employees. As a result, in the context of individual forms of bargaining, decision making practices that may affect an employee’s working conditions can be negotiated with the individual’s personal intervention, complain or negotiation. However, in collective forms of bargaining the individual’s interests become part of the wider body of the individuals represented (Blyton and Turnbull, 2004). The hierarchy of the people representing the trade union becomes responsible for taking the initiative to defend the employee’s personal interests. Forms of collective bargaining differ from forms of individual bargaining in the sense that collectivism requires that individual interests become part of a wider structure where representation is shared between the employees (Blyton and Turnbull, 2004)


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