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Industrial Relation, History Of

Industrial Relation, History Of



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Published by Jacobin Parcelle
Encyclopedia Series OF Conflict, War, and Peace : History Of Industrial Relation
Encyclopedia Series OF Conflict, War, and Peace : History Of Industrial Relation

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Published by: Jacobin Parcelle on Feb 17, 2009
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Blanchflower D G, Freeman R B 1992 Unionism in the UnitedStates and other advanced OECD countries.
Industrial Relations
: 56–79Brown W, Marginson P, Walsh J 1995 Management: Paydetermination and CB. In: Edwards P (ed.)
Industrial Relations
. Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 123–50Clegg H A 1976
Trade Unionism under Collecti 
e Bargaining
.Blackwell, Oxford, UKCrouch C 1993
Industrial Relations and European StateTraditions
. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UKCrouch C 1994 Beyond corporatism. In: Hyman R, Ferner A(eds.)
New Frontiers in European Industrial Relations
.Blackwell, Oxford, UKDunlop J T 1958
Industrial Relations Systems
. Holt, New YorkFerner A, Hyman R (eds.) 1998
Changing Industrial Relations inEurope
. Blackwell, Malden, MAFlanders A D 1970
Management and Unions
. Faber, LondonGoldthorpe J H (ed.) 1984
Order and Conflict in ContemporaryCapitalism
. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UKHampsonI1999Betweencontrolandconsensus:‘Globalisation’and Australia’s enigmatic corporatism. In: Edwards P, ElgerT (eds.)
The Global Economy
National States and theRegulation of Labour
. Mansell, London, pp. 138–59Hyman R 1989
The Political Economy of Industrial Relations
.Macmillan, Basingstoke, UKKatz H C 1993 The decentralization of Collective Bargaining:A literature review.
Industrial and Labor Relations Re
:3–22KaufmanB E1993
olutionoftheFieldofIndustrial Relations in the United States
. ILR Press, Ithaca, NYLocke R, Kochan T, Piore M (eds.) 1995
Employment Relationsin a Changing World Economy
. MIT Press, Cambridge, MASisson K 1987
The Management of Collecti 
e Bargaining
.Blackwell, Oxford, UKTherborn G 1992 Lessons from corporatist theorizations. In:Pekkarinen J, Pohjola M, Rowthorn B (eds.)
Social Corporatism
. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UKTraxler F 1996 Collective Bargaining and industrial change.
European Sociological Re
: 271–87Windmuller J P, Gladstone A (eds) 1984
Employers Associationsand Industrial Relations
. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK
P. K. Edwards
Industrial Relations, History of 
In most developed countries, wages and workingconditions,formsofemployment,bonuses,andallow-ances are regulated, either by law or by collectiveagreements. The latter are themselves bordered by juridical or customary rules which define their be-ginning,process,andresults.Theircoherencedoesnotmerely reflect the logic of the national institutions andof the economy. It takes into account the social actorsthemselves and the aggregation of their decisions,which constitute industrial relations systems. Theyvary throughout the course of history. They also differamongst North America, Japan, and Europe andwithin Europe itself. But everywhere these systemshave been deeply altered or even challenged since the1980s.
1. The Concept of Industrial Relations
The term ‘industrial relations’ was born in the USA. Itis the product of both changing relations betweencompanies and wage-earners and of academic at-tempts to instil some order into the turmoil of socialchange.
1.1 Commons
John R. Commons, an economist at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), produced, during the first thirdof the twentieth century, the first major interpretationof social relations in ‘American industrial society.’ Heargued that US workers were more wage-consciousthan class-conscious. If companies became aware of these fundamental tendencies, there was room forcontracts between management and trade unions.Conflicts could be avoided, minimized, or solved.Government was welcome to promote economicgrowth by supporting the contractualization of indus-trialrelations.Commonsandhisfollowersstressedtheimportance of institutions for organizing society.Accordingly, they considered trade unions to be asource of social progress. They privileged collectivebargaining as fitted to US exceptionalism and adaptedto unionization by trade, not by industry.Commons and his followers were not pure andsimple academics. They actively contributed to theliberalization of US social legislation which developedbetween 1918 and 1940.
1.2 Dunlop
John T. Dunlop, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, working between the 1950s and the 1970s,went further in the same direction. He systematizedthe idea of systems of industrial relations at local,regional, or national levels. Thus he stressed theinterdependence between the key elements of indus-trial relations: for instance, between the definition of atrade union, its representativity, and the nature of anegotiation. This interdependence is characterized notonly by a common juridical doctrine, but also byreciprocal strategies carried out by managers andunions. Moreover, rules in industrial relations need tobe interpreted by reference to the policies of unions,companies,andtradeassociations.Socialactorscreaterules and bind each other by such regulations, at leastfor a specific period of time. Like Commons and hisfollowers, Dunlop and his colleagues worked asexpertsforpublicadministrationsandplayedasignifi-cant part in the evolution of collective bargaining andof legislation till the first oil crisis. Unlike Commons,they moved from the idea of US exceptionalism to itsapparent opposite: a possible universal convergencebetween the national systems of industrial relations.‘Industrialismwould bring about a civilization of 7344
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e Bargaining
social relations everywhere by generating stable pro-cesses of collective bargaining. Meanwhile, Dunloprecognized the plurality of national and continentalsystems.
2. Three Models in Europe
At the end of the nineteenth century and during thetwentieth, Europe developed specific features in itsindustrial relations systems, which are still in force.Collective bargaining is first and foremost the re-sponsibility of employersassociations and tradeunions by trade or sector, coordinated by confedera-tions. Bargaining at company level came later, isgrowing, but remains under the aegis of federations. Adistinction is made between collective bargaining,which deals mostly with wages and working time, andparticipation of wage-earners, which includes workconditions, welfare, and the adaptation of a broadercollective agreement to a firm; also, more recently,information on the firm’s strategy and its impact onemployment. In Germany, participation extends tocodetermination, introduced under the Weimar Re-public and generalized in the aftermath of World WarII, by laws passed in 1951–2. Governments areinvolved in the national regulation of industrialrelations. Intra-European variety may be reduced tothreetypesofpatterns.Thepatternsarequite differenton other continents.
2.1 The UK and the Republic of Ireland 
This is the oldest industrial relations system. Tradeunions are closely related to trades and collectivebargaining is basically at the level of the firm or theworkshop. Conversely, strikes are frequent at thislevel, yet they do not foster political radicalization.Labour legislation is light. Politics and society tend toprivilege the freedom of action of employers andunions.
2.2 Central and Northern Europe
This group comprises Germany, Austria, Switzerland,and the Scandinavian nations. It is characterized by atrendtowards uniqueness inseveralforms: uniquenessof employers’ associations—powerful, structured,obeyed; uniqueness of trade unions—strong and con-nected to political power; uniqueness of social con-flicts—abiding in written or implicit rules. Collectivebargaining is centralized by branch. So are strikes,limited to the period of negotiation. In these countriesgovernment intervenes by legislating on industrialrelations. However, employers and unions havemovedtorestrictitsinterference.TheNetherlandsandBelgium may be included in this group, although bothhave a plurality of trade unions.
2.3 The Latin Countries
This group covers France, Italy, Spain, Portugal. Thekeyword here is pluralism: pluralism of conflicts, witha significant percentage of preventive strikes and of wildcat strikes; pluralism of trade unions, with a poleofsocialistorigin,anotherofChristianorigin,andonewhich calls itself autonomous or independent; plural-ism of political influences among wage-earners. Inaddition, there is limited authority and even, for manyyears, pluralism of employers’ organizations them-selves. Collective bargaining long proceeded only atthe national level (for one branch or for the generaleconomy), except at the end of local strikes. Bargain-ingatcompanylevelbecameamoreregularpracticeinthe mid-1950s or even later. Government regulates avariety of issues, except in Italy.
3. North America and Japan
3.1 North America
The US labor movement long featured a pluralism of organisations (in fact till 1955), and employers were asreluctantaselsewheretonegotiatewithunions.Thingschanged with the New Deal. The 1935 Wagner Act,however deeply modified by the 1947 Taft–HartleyAct, made collective bargaining a right for employees,but a union had to be accredited by the vote of amajority of them as the sole counterpart of man-agement in collective bargaining. Law deemed col-lective bargaining to progress ‘in good faith,’ i.e., toaim at an agreement. Thanks to the sitdown strikes of the mid-1930s, bargaining spread all over the USAand its contents broadened. The areas of bargainingare now wages, working hours, and work conditions.They may include other matters which have conse-quencesfortheseelements.Theclosed-shopclausehasbeen declared illegal. As for Canada, it generallyfollowed the US trends.
3.2 Japan
Up to Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II,collective bargaining was exceptional in Japanesecompanies and would materialize only at the end of strikes. Practices and legislation changed in the late1940s, under the influence of Japanese liberals and USoccupying forces. Collective bargaining became aconstitutional right for wage-earners. A company hasto bargain with any union which asks for it, and evenwithanygroupofemployeeswhichdoesnotconstitutea union, provided it can express a common will. Theemployer must present counterproposals to the de-mands of the employees and negotiate ‘loyally.’ Thecontents of collective bargaining are extremely broad.A wave of strikes enabled both the spread of unionsand of collective bargaining in postwar Japan. How-7345
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ever, radical unions were finally defeated; workeractivism and protest gave way to management victoryin the 1960s and 1970s. Company unions took theupper hand in pursuit of economic affluence. Col-lective bargaining became a type of cooperation withmanagement, and often quite an influential one. Thisevolution laid the foundations for a corporate-centered society.In North America and in Japan, when there is nounionintheworkplaceornoagreementisreached,therights of the employee may be in fact minimal andmanagement keeps its unilateral powers.
4. Recent Changes
4.1 The End of an Era
Many authors consider the stages reached by nationalindustrialrelationssystemsafterWorldWarIItohavebeen parts of social settlements built after the strainsof the international economic depression of the 1930sand of the wars of the early 1940s, paving the way fora new era of growth. When growth decelerated in thetime of oil crises in the 1970s, when national tariff barriers were lowered, and neoliberal ideas made aspectacular headway in the West, industrial relationssystems came under attack. At the same period in anumber of countries, though not all, membership of unions started to decline. The breakdown of thepopulation changed from a majority of blue-collarworkers to an increasing proportion of white-collaremployees, in keeping with a growing proportion of women at work and a shift from industry to services.Unemployment simultaneously rose.
4.2 A Shift in Industrial Relations
On a world scale, trade unions entered an era of concessions to employers in terms of wages. Theflexibility of work conditions grew. Mechanisms of social protection weakened. Companies moved to agreater individualization of wages, careers, even con-tracts, and to a more intense involvement of eachemployee in the workplace. Integration quite oftenbecame their motto. Japan was the last country toundergo this new trend and to try and adjust to thechallenge. In many countries militancy and the yearlynumber of strikes and strikers declined. Yet both largecompanies and governments stressed the importanceof collective bargaining to accompany such far-reaching changes and to stabilize the emerging globalcompetitive order. In some countries ways were foundto integrate small and medium-sized enterprises inindustrial relations systems. Outside the USA thereduction of working time became a target for col-lective bargaining and legislation. In each countrysome of the trade unions began to adapt and mod-ernize their strategies and structures. Some were ableto regain members in new working groups. Butaltogether their societal position has not yet beenstabilized and the balance between individual andcollective has been altered in significant aspects, infavor of the former.
5. Current Debates
5.1 The Impact of New Practices on the Paradigm
These changes in industrial relations themselves havecaused new debates among scholars about Dunlop’sparadigm. The development of framework agree-ments, of agreements on discussion methods, of agreements setting a policy and targets rather thanrights, in short of agreements which are not contracts,is quite different from the explicit forms and the strictobligations characterizing most of collective bargain-ing in the USA during the 1950s and the 1960s.Collective actors appear less neatly defined, moreunstable, and the representativity of unions is underredefinition in some countries. In short, actors maybecome more defined by action itself. A number of scholars argue that such developments do not invali-dateDunlop’sparadigm,asitis basedon autonomousactors able to create rules and to keep their word.
5.2 Recurrent Critiques
Simultaneously older critiques of the paradigm find agreater audience. A number of authors have stressedthe importance of unorganized conflict, expressed byabsenteeismandturnover.TheyalsostressthattheUSmodel of the social conflict as a simple form of adjusting industrial rules may reduce its dimensionsandthattradeunionsarenoteverywherelimitedtotheprovision of personal services to wage-earners. Theseauthors doubt the possibility of a convergence of national industrial relations systems, despite the de-velopment of multinational companies and of con-tinental economic unions. Is it still so easy to say thatthese systems are functional to industrialization? Arethe frontiers of these systems clearly defined, as theyindeedproducepartoftheireconomicortechnological‘context’ themselves? Are they not less stable thantheir earliest analysts implied? What are the multiplesources of their dynamics? Therefore, research onindustrial relations is coming back on the agenda of social sciences, as well as of organizations and of individuals.
See also
: Business History; Class: Social; EconomicHistory; Industrial Policy; Industrial Relations andCollective Bargaining; Industrial Sociology; In-dustrialization, Typologies and History of; LaborMovements, History of; Labor Supply; Labor7346
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