Last updated: April 12, 2019
Topic: BusinessManufacturing
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When industry is protected, its executives do not require being as nimble as they might and the workforce does not need to be as well trained as it could be. Protection from competition breeds satisfaction. Protection of industry was an essential part of a national formula for prosperity which the nation had followed since Federation. The formula was simple, though it was rarely stated simply. Australia would engender wealth by exporting to world markets from farming and mining. It would form jobs for Australians in manufacturing by protecting it. It paid for the protection with the wealth earned from farming and mining.

The connection between the nineteenth and twentieth century patterns of government economic initiative has been directly stated by McFarlane: From the very earliest days…a public sector has been vital in setting the pace, atmosphere, and social investment ‘infrastructure’ essential to economic development. With the coming of federation and the growth of a tariff system the government was practically taking the risk out of capitalism — helping to underwrite risk, to build up certain markets for the products of domestic private enterprise. Industrialization was not achieved by a frugal, development-orientated aggressive middle class. What happened rather was that the public sector or government directive became substitutes for the normal functions of the middle class and capitalist groups as agents of economic development. certainly there followed the growth of a bureaucracy to run a network of regulation agencies (Bruce McFarlane, 1968).

In the Commonwealth Parliament, the social disparities between parties have been strongly marked ever since Federation, though a number of changes have taken place over the period. One of these is the decline in the fraction of manual workers in the ALP.         At the NSW election of 1891, when seventeen Labor men were elected to the colonial parliament, three quarters of them were manual workers. In the federal parliamentary party over the entire period from 1901 to 1951, 41 per cent of all members were manual workers. Between 1919 and 1934, the proportion in each parliament fluctuated around the fifty per cent mark; at the general election of 1934, it dropped below this level and has declined gradually ever since. In the parliament of 1958-61, it was only twelve per cent.

The proportion of trade union officials, on the other hand, has not shown any long-term secular decline. In the whole period since Federation, it has hardly ever fallen below one-half of the parliamentary party, divided almost equally between salaried and honorary officers. This appears to corroborate the widely-held view that union officials have a lien on safe seats, particularly as most of those entering parliament tend to stay there for a long time. The prolonged terms of office common in this century had the effect of weakening the manual worker and trade union element in Labor governments.     Labor was incessantly in office in New South Wales from 1941 to 1965. In the original ministry of fifteen, five were well-known union officials, and five others had some union background. Up to 1965, an additional nineteen ministers had held office, simply one of whom had been a union official of any significance. In the federal parliament, the proportion of union officials drawn from clerical and ‘white-collar’ groups has risen, in parallel with a general increase in white-collar representation. Up to the 1940 general election, less than 10 per cent of the parliamentary party was white-collar workers. One vocational group whose representation has increased strikingly is that of teachers, who constituted 15 per cent of the parliamentary Labor Party in the 1958-61 legislatures. In 1949-51, the total number of teachers in the federal parliament was six; since then, it has risen continuously. In 1958-61, it reached fifteen.

Since Federation, Trade unions explore a limited range of options or practice a wider agenda. Through their rhetoric, they might reveal spurts of determination in dealing with employers without a well-formulated philosophical position on the nature of the economic environment within which work is undertaken. How they put in themselves into the process of managing workplace relations, the terms on which they are all set to work together with capital, and their agenda for shaping the work environment and the future of work–all these considerations propose that attention to the question of values is not an ineffective exercise. The options that trade unions endorse for institutional constitution at the workplace and for the management of human resources comprise a partial reproduction if not an approximation of the values of trade union leaders.

This kind of reflection and introspection may rationally encourage us to question some of the taken-for-granted suppositions we have about the policies and actions of employers and government alike. With this orientation, we are also capable to develop a more critical stance toward the nature of the institutional arrangements and the inter-organizational relationships that result from repeated interaction between different interest groups in society. It also allows us to judge the character and outcomes of that interaction. basically, then, it constitutes an significant part of the framework for developing our perspective on the management of human resources in organizations and the ways in which trade unions insert themselves into this process.

Within the region, we are becoming more and more impatient with and almost paranoid about statements and behaviour that imitate a values orientation that questions accepted practice or seems different from that which we possess. There is enough proof to suggest that to assume an intellectual posture at odds with that of those who believe that theirs is the correct one is to invite some of the vilest if not the most groundless charges against oneself. This is a frightening prospect in a region that brag of freedom. If we claim to be democracies, there must be room for the expression of an alternative viewpoint. There must be an accommodation to dissent. A country that chooses prejudice of different ideas as a working strategy over progressive dialogue as a basis for developing mutual understanding is a country that is gripped by fear, born out of insecurity if not ignorance. We require asking ourselves whether we wish to be a part of and party to such a drift. The choice we make eventually will depend on our own value system and preferences.

The concept of values refers very simply to a compound of ideas and beliefs that constitute a mind-set that identifies something as enviable or undesirable, right or wrong, or even taboo. The circumstances of our material existence, our experiences and prior socialization play an important role in the development and development of that mind-set. They control the coping mechanisms we use for dealing with our experiences. Values also influence the process and pattern of social imitation. Finally, a particular huddle of values in turn informs the means toward goal accomplishment and the steps we take to deal with those obstructions that frustrate or block goal achievement. To operational a given set of values, we identify a structure of goals, precedence and preferences and exercise some choice as to the means for the realization of those goals that are a logical expansion of our value system.

Values are significant because they accomplish a number of crucial roles for individuals and organizations. First, by representing statements of preferred ends they set horizons to human activity, place the collective vision beyond the ordinariness of its adjoining landscape. (Ranson et al., 1983: 198)

It is also significant to recognize that “values thus fulfill a very imperative legitimatory function, mitigating the steps we take, the rules and structures we implement in our strivings to realize those coveted goals” ( Ranson et al., 1983: 198).

These authors make the additional observation that

by defining and interpreting our cognitive beliefs concerning the world (what there is) into an organized system, values (what there ought to be) have therefore a tendency to shape the social realities that we desire to understand. ( Ranson et al., 1983: 198)

In discussing the role and significance of values as they structure social action, we cannot ignore certain moral and ethical questions, since they too are decisive to what we believe is right or wrong, just or unjust. These moral and ethical questions thus also assist in determining our attitude toward the behaviour and actions of diverse social and interest groups in society. Our values orientation offers the backdrop against which we make judgments about that behaviour. Whether or not we choose to accept this idea, “everything important in a society eventually rests upon the values that the society holds” ( Scott and Hart, 1979: 3).

In dealing with broad societal values, though, we have to be careful lest we overemphasize or underemphasize the part played by certain strategic groups and interests. To converse glibly of societal values is to ignore how social reality is distinct, interpreted and acted upon by those groups and interests. It is to ignore their perceptions of the objective conditions in society and their strategy for dealing with those conditions in ways that are calculated to further their interests. It is to overlook the fact that those objective conditions give rise to an alternative social definition, at loggerheads with that of leading groups and interests. What is being suggested here is the idea that “reality” can be institutionally defined, and at the same time it is important to deal with individual consciousness of that similar reality.

By the early eighties the advanced economies were being drawn closer jointly by investment and trade flows. This expectant regional political arrangements like the European Union and the North Atlantic Free Trade Alliance. These transforms inspired more comparative, international research in workplace relations. Existing investigative frameworks that framed issues in a single country framework were becoming obsolescent. Based on industrial relations and industrial sociology, a new framework was developed to analyze workplace relations in Britain, France and Japan from an institutionalist-interpretive viewpoint. It was argued that distinctive patterns of workplace relations were established by large enterprises and that national distinction in workplace relations could be explained by a thorough examination of interactions between the state, employer organizations and unions concerning large enterprises.

In the early nineties the term globalization entered popular discourse. It referred to the increasing interdependence of many of the advanced and rapidly industrializing economies. As part of this process, multinationals were relocating production to from plants in the advanced countries to subsidiaries or contractors in the recently industrialized and developing countries, particularly in Asia.

A key finding was that workplace relations in contributories of the same company, located in diverse countries, bore the stamp of the particular country’s industrial relations institutions as imitated in the nature of trade unionism, management authority configuration, and rule setting mechanisms (e.g. collective bargaining or unilateral management control). However, there were similarities in other fundamentals work roles, reward systems and the setting of management-employee relations. on the whole, there was a inclination towards convergence on a pattern termed `cooperative dependence’–cooperation based on the dilapidated power of workers in the face of diminishing union influence, with workers seeking greater conviction in management and more involvement in job-related decisions (Frenkel 1994).

More extreme competition stimulated the implementation of new technology. Globalization was changing workplace relations in ways that were as yet not well understood. This encouraged three subsequent studies of multinational subsidiaries. The cooperative reliance pattern was explored further by distinguishing between Neo-Taylorist and Lean Production manufacturing variants. There was a general affinity towards the latter pattern characterized by increasing management technical expertise and systems assimilation, more complex work, greater employee participation, and weak or non-existent trade unionism (Frenkel 1995). A similar finding emerged in an analysis of workplaces in the similar company’s UK and South African subsidiaries (Frenkel ; Royal 1999). Based mostly on survey and documentary data, this study also investigated differences in workers’ views of management and trade unions, and traced the changeable pressures for change to the plants’ diverse positions in the company’s global corporate strategy. The UK subsidiary’s plant was found to be under more pressure to progress performance, as validation was central to the firm’s European strategy. This contrasted with the South African workplace, which continued to supply a small, less important market. Therefore, change was slower and the outcomes less dramatic. This research led to the hypothesis that the rapidity and scope of workplace change depends mainly on the strategic position of subsidiaries in multinational companies but the content of these changes is powerfully influenced by local institutional and labour market factors (Frenkel 1998).

The new legislation by Australian government ‘WorkChoice’ will definitely help employees further to gain their rights.

The transitional provisions establish the basis upon which employers and employers will start in WorkChoices :

1. Award free employees – the Standard applies. This includes even the most senior managerial employees, irrespective of their remuneration level.

2. State award covered employees – the provisions of the State  award (except prohibited content) will continue to apply (as a “notional” agreement) for 3 years. However, the Standard will prevail over any award conditions that are less favorable.

3. State agreement covered employees – the provisions of the State  agreement  (except  prohibited content) will continue to apply (as a “preserved” State  agreement) for 3 years and prevail over the Standard while the agreement continues to operate.

4. Federal  award covered employees – the Federal award  provisions will override the  Standard conditions for parental leave, personal/carer’s leave and annual leave if the award provision is more generous in relation to that particular matter.  Otherwise, the Standard applies.

5. Federal agreement and AWA- covered employees – for employees covered by current Federal agreements or Australian  Workplace Agreements (AWAs),  which were in place before WorkChoices, the provisions of the agreement or AWA (except prohibited content) will continue.

6. Apply and prevail over the  Standard, while the agreement or AWA continues to operate

Thus, amongst skilled employees, the number of service and sales workers is growing fast. Their contracts of employment typically provide for rational pay and job-related training in lieu of job security and career prospects with the firm. But this might not be enough. Product market trends are from standardization to personalized customization. The latter needs flexible, customer-oriented personnel. Management face a dilemma: offer better employment prospects so as to motivate and retain these workers–an assurance that is more costly and perhaps more hard to meet–or outsource this work to contractors, often situated in developing countries. International outsourcing limits employment prediction at home and it creates disagreements in the host economies where workers employed by foreign firms or their suppliers often have superior contracts of employment than their equivalents working in smaller, local firms. Local labour markets begin to distort as a result of globalization.

These issues indicate that there is no shortage of important research questions. Three in particular merit attention. First, little is known about workplace relations in knowledge-intensive firms that rely on rapid innovation to endure. What are the institutional and organizational factors and processes that promote innovation in these workplaces? Second, globalization has accelerated organizational restructuring and contributed to growing worker insecurity. There is a require for new mechanisms to make certain that definite fundamental labour standards (including access to continuing education and job search assistance) are not only upheld but raised sporadically. This requires more policy-oriented, workplace relations research that is competent to assimilate micro-strategies with meso- and macro-approaches being developed by governments. Finally, there is the challenge of devising theory that reflects growing international economic and political interdependence, proffering hypotheses that relate globalization and technological change to instantaneous developments in workplace relations in advanced, recently industrialized, and developing countries.









Bruce McFarlane, Economic Policy in Australia, Melbourne, 1968, p. 69
Frenkel, S. 1994, `Patterns of workplace relations in the global corporation: Toward convergence?’, in Workplace Industrial Relations and the Global Challenge, eds. J. Belanger, P. Edwards ; L. Haiven, pp. 240-74, ILR Press, Ithaca.
Frenkel, S. 1995, `Workplace relations in the global corporation: A comparative analysis of subsidiaries in Malaysia and Taiwan’, in Industrialization and Labor Relations: Contemporary Research in Seven Countries, eds. S. Frenkel & J. Harrod, pp. 179-215, ILR Press, Ithaca.
Frenkel, S. 1998, `Corporate-subsidiary relations, local contexts and workplace change in global corporations’, Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 51-78. Frenkel, S. ; Royal, C. 1999, `Workers, unions and change in the global corporation: Contemporary experience and future possibilities’, in Globalization Patterns and Labour Resistance, ed. J. Waddington, pp. 105-30, Mansell, London.
Ranson S., Hinings B., Greenwood R., and Walsh K. 1983. “Value Preferences and Tensions in the Organization of Local Government.” In D. Dunkerley and G. Salaman, eds., The International Yearbook of Organization Studies. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Scott W., and Hart D. 1979. Organizational America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.