Foundation of Work and Employment Relations

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Work and employment relations fall under human resource management, which is an organization’s function that entails all aspects that are associated with the human resource or workforce in a particular organization, company, or institution. It entails aspects like recruitment, coordination, and control of the people working in an organization. Some of the issues linked with human resource management include hiring, compensation and benefits, safety and welfare, communication and motivation, employees’ performance management, and administration, and training, among others. Human resource management is an essential function in every organization as it enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the organization through the smooth running of all the activities and operations that are carried out in the organization. There are various employment relations that govern the employee and employer relationships, for instance, trade unions. This paper gives an insight into the issue of foundation of work and employment relations through looking into three articles that cover employment issues.

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Employment is a relatively wide field that encompasses a lot of human resource issues. It does not only entail the rules and regulations that govern the employment practices but also the employment relations contained therein. The employment sector has evolved over time, with various issues cropping up day by day. Employees have, for instance, realized that they have some rights which should be provided to them in the course of their employment term. In the recent past, employers treated the employees badly and could replace them just as they replaced machines. With the passage of time, the importance of employee retention was realized, and thus employees had to be treated well to better their performance and that of an organization as a whole. Various employment relations have thus been formed to fight for good interaction between the employers and employees in an effort to enhance productivity and profitability through improved efficiency and effectiveness, which in turn promotes job satisfaction (Dundas 2011).

This piece of work will give an exhaustive discussion of employment relations issues. This will be through having a critical look into three relevant academic articles with the aim of getting a deep understanding of various concepts that underlie employment relations. Some of the themes that will be looked at include the state and employment relations, Trade unions and employment relations, as well as Employers and employment relations. The context will both be local (Australian) as well as international.


The importance of human resources has significantly increased in various organizations. This is more so in the contemporary business world that is characterized by a very high level of competition. In every organization, the human resource plays an essential role in determining the success of the organization. For instance, human resources in one way or another influence the performance of other nonhuman resources in an organization. The machines are, for example, controlled by human resources. Their performance is largely determined by the human resources who direct the production process. Therefore, the effectiveness of any change in an organization is largely dependant on human resources, and thus it is necessary to pay attention to the human resources while implementing changes in an organization.

The articles that will form the basis of our discussion are; Labor Unions and Industrial relations in Japan: crumbling pillar or forging a ‘third way’? by Whittaker D. Hugh, Review – Employment Relations: theory and practice by Mark Hilder, and Workplace Change and Employment Relations Reform in Australia: Prospects for a New Social Partnership? by Lansbury, D. Russell. Some of the issues that I will be looking at in examining these articles include their focus or aim; the methods used as well as the research findings. The contribution of the articles towards our understanding of the concepts they discuss will also be deduced.

Workplace Change and Employment Relations Reform in Australia: Prospects for a New Social Partnership?

This is an article by Lansbury, D. Russell. The main theme of the article is Employers and employment relations and concepts contained therein. As the title suggests, there are workplace changes and reforms in employment relations in Australia.

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The author asserts that for the last 20 years, the issue of reform of employment relations has been on focus in both political and economic settings. The fact that there are reforms is a justification that the employment relations in Australia were at fault. There have been efforts to decentralize the employment relations system, and different parties have been involved, for instance, the union movement, the Howard Coalition government, and the Hawke Labor government. From this research, it is evident that there are different reactions from different employers in regard to the proposed reforms in employment relations. Some support the change fully, while others oppose it. The significance of teamwork, multi-skilling as well as increased employees’ involvement has been emphasized in an effort to increase productivity and profitability. This is achieved through high commitment, high involvement, and high performance. An important issue that this research shows is that employees in Australia are not comfortable with their working conditions and they also feel left out in the negotiations of the key concepts that affect them in the course of their work (Sappey, Burgess, and Lyons & Buultjens 2006).

The article is exhaustive and very informative, giving a diverse coverage of the issue of workplace change and employment reforms in Australia. They include the workplace changes, their connection with employment relations changes, the different parties involved in the changes and their roles, as well as the strategies required in implementing and maintaining the changes (Balnave 2008). Some of the issues that have been discussed in detail include workplace change in the context of employment relations reforms, workplace change under managed decentralism, workplace change under coordinated flexibility, and workplace change under fragmented flexibility. The author goes a step further to discuss the likely future directions for workplace change and innovation in the country. The research findings are very convincing since the issues have been discussed in detail, giving all possible perspectives. In a nutshell, the article has enhanced our understanding of the conditions of the workplaces and employment relations in Australia, the expected changes, the desired results, the implementation strategies as well as the parties involved (Lansbury 2000).

Labor Unions and Industrial relations in Japan: crumbling pillar or forging a ‘third way’?

This is an article authored by Whittaker D. Hugh. It talks of labor unions and international relations in Japan’s context. According to Whittaker, there is much to be discussed about this topic. The author uses an interesting framework that covers corporate governance and national level concentration, all in an effort to foster our understanding of the employment-related issue. From this framework, we can deduce that there exist pressures in the processes of change from corporate and economic restructuring. What is clear from this research is that there are challenges that are faced by labor unions in Japan in the course of fulfilling their responsibilities. The challenges are, however, lessened by the process of restructuring, which eliminates direct threats. In this country, there are three pillars that are associated with employment and industrial relations; wages and promotions, lifetime employment, and enterprise unions. The author emphasizes the fact that the enterprise unions pillar is usually neglected. The main reason for this is, however, the belief that industrial relations are stable and hence no need to worry about the unions, which are rather considered to be of little significance (Keenoy & Kelly 1998).

In regard to labor unions in Japan, Whittaker argues that there are fewer chances for the labor unions to face the same problems faced by trade unions in other parts of the world, for instance, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The collective bargaining of the labor unions in Japan, in addition, ought to be more stable as compared to other countries due to the restructuring. However, the author still states that the above statement is not in any way an indication that there are no challenges faced by labor unions in Japan. Although anti-unionism and de-recognition are not major factors, Japan’s labor unions still face some other challenges. They include a decrease in organization rate and some other changes in the economy, for instance, the increase in service sector employment, which in turn causes organizations rates to be relatively low.

There are also instances of failure to coordinate employees in new organizations and an increase in workers who are not regular over long periods of time, which usually bring about a lot of organizational problems. Although it may seem to be an advantage, highly educated individuals and increased heterogeneity also bring about some employment relations problems. The author also reveals that the above-named challenges have not been dealt with effectively by either the enterprise unions or those responsible at the national level. From this discussion, it is evident that labor unions are not recognized in Japan and hence not given much attention. This makes them ineffective in their role of fighting for the rights of the employees or other employee-employer relationships. The author has really tried to bring out the topic of discussion, starting with an explanation of what the general situation of employment and industrial relations is in the country, then later expounding on the issues of labor or enterprise unions and how they are treated with less recognition and hence the need to improve their image (Whittaker 1998).

Review – Employment Relations: theory and practice

This article by Mark Hilder will be the last article of discussion in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the general topic of discussion, which is work and employment relations. This article is a form of a book review. The article is very informative, giving a very useful historical perspective of the employment relationships that exist in Australia. To enhance a deeper understanding of the employment relations, the author gives a detailed but concise introduction of the key concepts involved and later explains the legal framework of employment relations. At the end of the analysis of the topic, Mark projects the future of the employment relationships in the country based on what is happening currently. Some of the key issues discussed by the author in regard to employment relationships in Australia include the theory and practice involved, the processes entailed and their results, all the parties involved in the employment relations, as well as the concepts that could be involved in the future employment relations in the country.

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From the research findings that are obtained from the book review, we realize that there are usually some conflicts that exist between employer and employee relations. However, despite the fact that the conflicts are inevitable, they are manageable through the application of effective human resource management practices, for instance, the establishment and implementation of appropriate rules and regulations (Cooney and Stuart 2011). The author suggests that since there are different parties that are involved in the employment relationship, they should all put efforts into achieving their individual objectives, which will, in turn, lead to the achievement of the collective goals of the employment tie. This will ensure the satisfaction of each individual involved, an aspect that is very crucial.

Just like Lansbury (2000) in the first article, Mark points out that trade unions in Australia are not that effective in terms of representing employees in the workplace and hence have a relatively low level of membership. The author further states that although trade unions have been deemed by many to be of less significance, they are very crucial in enhancing performance through motivation that in turn reduce issues like employee turnover (Mark 2009).


From the above discussion, it is evident that the issue of work and employment relations is a very wide field that encompassed a lot of issues. Employment relations and labor are also taken differently in different countries, as we have seen in Australia and Japan, respectively. All in all, there ought to be effective human resource management practices that allow for better relationships between the employees and the employers in an effort to enhance performance, which in turn boosts productivity and profitability in an organization.

Reference List

Balnave, N. 2008, Employment Relations in Australia: Plus Work Choices Reform Supplement. Canberra, John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd.

Cooney R. and Stuart, M. 2011, Trade Unions and Workplace Training: International Perspectives. London, Routledge.

Dundas, K. 2011, Human Resource Management MNG00724. Southern Cross University.

Keenoy, T & Kelly, D 1998, The Employment Relationship in Australia, 2nd ed, Thomson, Southbank.

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Lunsbury, D.R. 2000, Workplace Change and Employment Relations Reform in Australia: Prospects for a New Social Partnership? An Australian Review of Public Affairs Vol. 1 (1) 29-45.

Mark, H. 2009, Review – Employment Relations: theory and practice, Illawarra Unity – Journal of the Illawarra Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, 9(1), 2009, 87-89.

Sappey, R, Burgess, J, Lyons, M & Buultjens, J 2006, Industrial Relations in Australia, Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forrest.

Whittaker, D.H. 1998, Labor Unions and Industrial relations in Japan: crumbling pillar or forging a ‘third way’? Industrial Relations Journal 29:4.

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