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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2012

Leigh‐Ann Harris, Kirsten Bendix Olsen and Robyn Jane Walker

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the development of a health and safety (HS) representative role typology that demonstrates how representatives enact their roles…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the development of a health and safety (HS) representative role typology that demonstrates how representatives enact their roles and improve occupational health and safety (OHS) under New Zealand law. It aims to consider the factors that influence the roles that HS representatives’ assume.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative, cross‐perceptual study centres on the role enactments of eight HS representatives at two metal manufacturers. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with HS representatives, managers, workers, senior managers, OHS managers and a union convenor. “Types” were differentiated by the HS representatives’ purpose, activities and OHS impacts.

Findings

In total, four HS representative role “types” were identified: administrators, workshop inspectors, problem solvers and craft experts. Administrators implemented and operated OHS management systems and improved OHS management. Workshop inspectors undertook compliance and monitoring roles and improved workers’ attitudes towards OHS. Problem solvers found solutions to control hazards and improved production from an OHS perspective. Craft experts applied technical knowledge to influence strategic OHS decisions. Role enactment appeared to be influenced by representatives’ expert power, job roles and the organisational role definition. Representatives operating under both managerial and worker defined HS representative systems, increased worker “voice” by providing an avenue to redress OHS concerns.

Practical implications

Implications arise for OHS policy, HS representative training courses and organisational/managerial support.

Originality/value

The paper presents a HS representative role typology distinctively based on cross‐perceptual data that also provides a more holistic perspective of the HS representative role by considering representatives’ purpose, role enactment and OHS impact.

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

David Walters and Theo Nichols

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of worker representation and consultation on occupational health and safety in the UK in a context in which…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of worker representation and consultation on occupational health and safety in the UK in a context in which, following the 1977 Safety Representatives and Safety Committees (SRSC) Regulations 1977, recognised trade unions have the right to appoint health and safety representatives who have rights to representation and consultation and to access the training and facilities needed to support these activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The chemical industry is the chosen site for this enquiry, because, it offers some of the most propitious conditions in which to examine the operation of what has been the preferred model in UK health and safety regulation, namely those in which there are recognised trade unions and where there are likely to be systems and structures of industrial relations in place combined with arrangements for OHS management. Five establishments are examined.

Findings

The research suggests joint arrangements make for better safety outcomes and that there is a relation between management consultation on general issues and those of health and safety. Overall, though, management capacity and commitment pose considerable constraints to employee representation on health and safety. The SRSC regulations apply in all five cases but worker representation operated below the level to be expected from the regulations.

Practical implications

A stronger legislative steer on worker consultation and representation in respect of workplace health and safety is required.

Originality/value

Demonstrates that, even in an apparently propitious environment, legal requirements are not being implemented, and that management commitment and support are vital.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 28 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1996

Peter Fairbrother

The question of health and safety at work is a central issue for trade unions. In Britain it is an area of concern where there were important legislative initiatives in…

Abstract

The question of health and safety at work is a central issue for trade unions. In Britain it is an area of concern where there were important legislative initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s, although surprisingly this has received relatively little attention in the debates about trade unionism. This neglect results in an aspect of union activity about which little is known. Explores through a detailed longitudinal study of a middle‐range engineering firm, from the late 1970s into the 1990s, the ways in which trade unions organize and act on health and safety questions. Argues that it is almost “routine” that workers face dangers and hazards at work, a central feature of the work and employment experience of most workers. However, this is often difficult to deal with as individual issues, or as matters which are subject to collective consideration. On the one hand, workers often appear to accept the dangers and hazards they face. On the other hand, managements are preoccupied with questions relating to production and finance, rather than the day‐to‐day problems faced by workers. This tension suggests that the future wellbeing of workers in unionized workplaces lies not so much with legislative provisions and rights at work, but in education and the organizing ability of workplace unions, raising and addressing what often seem like individualistic problems in collective ways.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

Valentina Franca and Michael Doherty

The article focuses on the role that ‘confidential information’ plays in relation to the work of board-level worker representatives, and their interaction with other worker

Abstract

Purpose

The article focuses on the role that ‘confidential information’ plays in relation to the work of board-level worker representatives, and their interaction with other worker participation mechanisms. Thus, the purpose of the paper is to explore the implications of confidentiality of board-level information for effective worker participation. The main argument is that if board-level worker representatives are excessively constrained by confidentiality provisions, their capacity to work effectively is brought into question.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research was undertaken on a sample of 12 public limited companies in Slovenia. In each company, three interviews were conducted: with the CEO or board member, with a board-level worker representative and with a works councilor, who was not a board-level worker representative (36 interviews in total). Each of these interviewees has a particular role, and interest, in handling confidential information. Thus, a method of triangulation by groups was employed. The interviews were conducted at the company premises during October and November 2017. The results were analysed by the content analysis method.

Findings

This research confirms that in the majority of companies, nearly all of the material and information discussed by the board is deemed to be ‘confidential’. Consequently, communication between board-level worker representatives and the works council is rendered difficult, if not impossible. The results indicate an urgent need to redefine the concept of confidentiality and to reinforce the level of communication between management boards and works councils.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to one country, which, by no means, is fatal, as international comparisons, although of greater breadth, often lose some depth of analysis (especially, for example, where there are differences in legal contexts). Although the issues discussed in the paper are of relevance to all those with an interest in worker participation mechanisms, they cannot be generalised mostly due to national specificities.

Originality/value

The question of confidentiality as between the board, board-level worker representatives, works councils, trade unions and other form of worker representation, despite its importance, has been raised quite rarely in research. In this research, three groups of stakeholders (CEO/board member, board-level workers representative and works council members) have been covered, with the aim to extend the understanding of how confidentiality obligations impact relationships between these.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 42 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1979

“All things are in a constant state of change”, said Heraclitus of Ephesus. The waters if a river are for ever changing yet the river endures. Every particle of matter is…

Abstract

“All things are in a constant state of change”, said Heraclitus of Ephesus. The waters if a river are for ever changing yet the river endures. Every particle of matter is in continual movement. All death is birth in a new form, all birth the death of the previous form. The seasons come and go. The myth of our own John Barleycorn, buried in the ground, yet resurrected in the Spring, has close parallels with the fertility rites of Greece and the Near East such as those of Hyacinthas, Hylas, Adonis and Dionysus, of Osiris the Egyptian deity, and Mondamin the Red Indian maize‐god. Indeed, the ritual and myth of Attis, born of a virgin, killed and resurrected on the third day, undoubtedly had a strong influence on Christianity.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1983

R.G.B. Fyffe

This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of…

Abstract

This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of industrial and economic democracy, which centres around the establishment of a new sector of employee‐controlled enterprises, is presented. The proposal would retain the mix‐ed economy, but transform it into a much better “mixture”, with increased employee‐power in all sectors. While there is much of enduring value in our liberal western way of life, gross inequalities of wealth and power persist in our society.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 3 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1978

The Equal Pay Act 1970 (which came into operation on 29 December 1975) provides for an “equality clause” to be written into all contracts of employment. S.1(2) (a) of the…

Abstract

The Equal Pay Act 1970 (which came into operation on 29 December 1975) provides for an “equality clause” to be written into all contracts of employment. S.1(2) (a) of the 1970 Act (which has been amended by the Sex Discrimination Act 1975) provides:

Details

Managerial Law, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0558

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Andrew R. Timming

The purpose of this paper is to look analytically at the relationship between identity and trust in the context of European industrial relations.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to look analytically at the relationship between identity and trust in the context of European industrial relations.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing from a case study of a European works council from a large, multinational firm in the traditional manufacturing sector, the problem of exclusionary identity choices along the lines of national cultures and industrial relations is examined via ethnographic methods.

Findings

In the light of the delegates' assumed identities, it was found that trust relations in the European Works Council case study were characteristically sub‐optimal both between worker and employers' representatives and also among the workers themselves. The extensive lack of trust in the forum was thought to be problematic with respect to the prospects for co‐operation. As a result, employers' representatives are able to use the European works council as a self‐serving tool of human resource management.

Practical implications

The implications for improving cross‐national industrial relations action are spelled out in the conclusion.

Originality/value

The paper offers a unique approach to studying the obstacles to co‐operation in European industrial relations settings.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1992

John Harris

Aims to examine the impact of health and safety legislationemanating from the European Community and to analyse what effect, ifany, it will have on British occupational…

Abstract

Aims to examine the impact of health and safety legislation emanating from the European Community and to analyse what effect, if any, it will have on British occupational health and safety law. An examination of the social action programmes shows that the pace of change has increased rapidly since the Single European Act was incorporated into the Treaty of Rome and became operative from July 1987. Because of rapid changes that are occurring on a broad front there was a need to be selective. Emphasizes to some extent, therefore, the construction industry because it would appear that European legislation is likely to have a major impact on British law and practice in this industry.

Details

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 13 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Xiaoyi Wen

Collective bargaining (CB) in China is perceived as inadequate, thanks to the lack of trade union independence and representation. However, CB of the sweater industry in…

Abstract

Purpose

Collective bargaining (CB) in China is perceived as inadequate, thanks to the lack of trade union independence and representation. However, CB of the sweater industry in Wenling, one of the world’s largest manufacturing centre, shows another tendency. Using Wenling as the case, the purpose of this paper is to explore whether a new form of CB is emerging in China.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses a qualitative case study approach, and covers stakeholders, including the government, trade union, sweater association, workers and employers.

Findings

In China, trade unions are constrained by corporatism and therefore cannot become the effective agents of CB. However, the increased industrial conflicts could in effect push employers to become the engine of change. This paper finds that employers endeavour to use CB as a tool to stabilise employment relations and neutralise workers resistance. Consequently, a gradual transition in labour relations system is on the way, characterised by “disorderly resistance” to “orderly compliance” in the working class.

Research limitations/implications

The case industry may not be sufficient in drawing the details of CB in China, while it provides the trend of change.

Originality/value

Conventional wisdom on the Chinese labour relations and CB tends to ignore the employer’s perspective. This paper partially fills in the gap by offering CB and change of employment relations from the aspect of employers.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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