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Employee Relations - Case Study Analysis

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This essay will explore three case studies: Outsourcing in electricity generation, The non-unionised company and Cost minimisation and the flexible workforce.

With reference to the first case study, Outsourcing in electricity generation, this essay will identify where management has used specific human relations techniques to develop their outsourcing strategy, show evidence that management adopted a HRM approach to downsizing and outsourcing, explore whether the approach was hard or soft HRM and discuss strategies various unions adopted and if they were effective. See Appendix I for Case Study: Outsourcing in electricity generation.

The second case study, The non-unionised company, will then explore why Teiberg employees remained non-union since 1985, what motivates employees to join a union, discuss the appropriateness of the ER policies followed by Teiberg, assess the role of the Managing Director and provide advice to the AMWU organiser on the strategy he should follow at Teiberg. See Appendix II for Case Study: The non-unionised company.

Lastly the case study, Cost minimisation and the flexible workforce, this essay will identify types of flexible patterns of work within Hotel Quay, discuss if these patterns of work are being used in a strategic way and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of flexible work at Hotel Quay from the management and employee perspectives. See Appendix III for Case Study: Cost minimisation and the flexible workforce.

Outsourcing in electricity generation

According to Kakabadse and Kakabadase (2000) the impact of outsourcing and downsizing depends on how it has been planned, how it has been communicated to employees and how effectively it has been implemented within the organisation. To diminish the negative issues associated with downsizing organisations are increasingly adopting a HRM approach by offering outsourcing deals such as: the transfer of staff to service providers, attractive redundancy packages or redeployment (Kakabadse and Kakabadase, 2000).

The SECV provided employees with outsourcing/downsizing deals and upon the second attempt to outsource it communicated extensively with employees. Whether a plan and a strategy was implemented the case study does not mention, although we can draw from the above analysis management used specific human relations techniques to develop their outsourcing strategy and adopted a HRM approach to the downsizing and outsourcing of SECV.

According to Kaye (1999) the hard model of HRM emphasises the quantitative, calculative and strategic approach and views HR as an expense of doing business which needs to be thoroughly measured and monitored. Due to the unpredictable cost of HR to the organisation hard HRM focuses on reducing labour costs and increasing efficiency (Teicher, Holland and Gough, 2002). It is apparent the SECV adopted a hard approach to HRM in which employees were seen as a cost and not as a resource to the organisation. Therefore the organisation rapidly downsizing and outsourcing many of it core functions

The various unions predominately adopted a strategy of collective bargaining or joint negation, this entails various forms of industrial action to exhibit strength, enforce agreements and make added gains (Petzall, Timo & Abbott, 2000). It is apparent this strategy was not effective as SECV reached an agreement with one union, the AMWU, because it was perceived as the key union. The strategies were not effective due to internal divisions over coverage and membership and occasionally collusion with management which was to the detriment of other unions.

The non-unionised company

Dundon, Wilkinson, Marchington, & Ackers (2005) describe a non-unionised organisation as a situation where management do not do business with a trade union that collectively represents the interests of employees.

Deery, Walsh & Knox (2001) highlight the non-union organisation has become an increasingly important event in employment relations as trade union membership has retreated steadily over the last twenty years, within Australia over a quarter of all workplaces with more than twenty employees have no union. Particular organisations may not be unionised because management uses one or more strategies to avoid a union passage for employee involvement or because collective representation has never materialised or developed (Dundon, Wilkinson, Marchington, & Ackers, 2005).

Dietz, Cullen & Coad (2005) point out if the power to effect change in a meaningful manner is invested in employees and this is supported through the organisational structure, then there appears to be no significant role for a trade union.

There is a belief that the organization has played a role in affecting the need for union services and the availability of union membership, this is achieved through policies and initiatives such as improved communication processes, decentralised decision making or employee benefit schemes (Deery, Plowman, Walsh & Brown (2002).

It appears from the analysis above there may be a number of factors contributing to the reason why Teiberg has remained non-union since 1985. Previously there may not have been a need for a union due to managements' role regarding employee relations. Alternatively the employees of Teiberg may not have been motivated to join a union previously; this essay will now explore what motivates employees to join a union.

According to Petzall, Timo & Abbott (2000) an employees' motivation to join a union for is affected by numerous variables such as: peer or coercive pressure, the level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the employees economic circumstances, the extent to which the employee chooses to influence their work situation, the extent to which they see the union as representing their views with the organisation and the costs of unionism (the cost of membership and the probability of employer resentment).

Deery, Plowman, Walsh & Brown (2002) categorise the motivational reasons behind why employees decide to join a union into three areas; instrumental considerations, ideological beliefs or normative pressures (involuntary conscripts). The instrumental view suggests the motivation is correlated to an employees' desire to increase working conditions or as protection to prevent exploitation or the benefits of joining the union outweigh the costs (Petzall, Timo & Abbott 2000). The ideological view proposes the employee is motivated as a result of identifying with the values of the union movement, usually related to social and economic class or political beliefs (Petzall, Timo & Abbott 2000). The normative pressures

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