Workforce Partnership & Representation in the Non-unionized Organizations: Some Emerging Trends.

AuthorBose, Indranil


Non-unionized workforce is a growing phenomenon in the modern world. According to the ILO (2017), data approximately 87.78% of the global workforce is still non-unionized. However, the representation of the workforce in the non-unionized sectors remains a major area of debate and discussion. The emerging picture of the growing non-unionization of workforce has however raised a few crucial questions and concerns. The first question that has been raised by the majority of the scholars of industrial relations is regarding a 'representation gap' among workers, especially in the private sector. This might be a worrying phenomenon not only for the trade unions, but also for the proponents of the philosophy that an effective employee voice aids organizational efficiency and productivity. The later contention has been promoted by many organizations; those have promoted models of the 'High Performance Workplace' based on effective employee voice and partnership working (Upchurch et. al., 2006). However, these propositions and practices on both partnership and employee voice fall conspicuously short of translating the desire for employee representation into trade union representation and collective bargaining., the proposed range of employee representation models, those have been discussed in several literatures; indicate towards the soft HRM models.

Multi-channel Model of Employee Representation-a Possible Solution?

One of the most prominent models has been the 'multi-channel model of employee representation' in the nonunionized organizations. Multi-channel approach of employee representation has been defined as the systematic method of forwarding the employee representation and voice through different methods (including trade unions and non-trade union frameworks) in any organization. (Gollan, 2000). However, any conclusion on the most effective method of representation is yet to be finalized. There has been an emerging body of literature examining non-unionized workplaces, usually from within perspectives that focus on particular aspects of managerial strategy (Dundon & Rollinson, 2004). Most of the available studies have highlighted the models describing the strategies for union avoidance and the continuation of managerial authority in an organization (Roy, 1980; Guest & Hoque, 1994; McLoughlin & Gourlay, 1994), whereas many other studies have focused on product markets as contextual driving factors (Rubery, 1988; Kochan et. al., 1986).

Partnership Route & Consultative Approach

However, the partnership route to organizational effectiveness and efficiency as the management preference has been identified in many other studies; those have examined the voice effectiveness of non-union form of employee representation. According to Gollan (2005), debates in this field of inquiry concentrate on the ability of the 'non-union forms of employee representation' to match or exceed the effectiveness of trade unions as conduits of employee voice and interest. The studies by Bryson (2004), Kelly (1996) have raised the issue in their studies. The main question, asked by them in their research, is whether the consultative-based mechanisms could play an effective role to further their...

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