Industrial relations module

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The Module: -

  • Explores on the nature of the employment relationship,

  • Examines the different perspectives in analyzing Industrial Relations,

  • Examines the different perspectives in analyzing the worker problem,

  • Examines the roles of various parties in Industrial Relations,

  • Explores on Industrial Relations dynamics in the 21st Century and key issues driving change in Industrial Relations.


  1. Academic Study of I.R

- I.R defined
- The growth of I.R as a discipline.
2 The Employment Relationship
- Nature of the Employment Relationship,
- The Employment Contract (origins, types, elements etc.)
- The Concepts of Power, Conflict and Job Regulation.
- Implications on the study of Industrial Relations

  1. Industrial Relations Perspectives

- Unitarism
- Pluralism
- Marxism


4 Management

- Management defined
- Historical features of labour management
- The Managerial Prerogative
- Management Styles in Employment R/ships
- Management Control Strategies
- Contemporary issues in Management
- Management and Employers Organisations
5 Trade Unions
- Trade Unions defined
- Types of unions
- The rise and fall of trade unions
- Trade union Structure and democracy
- Contemporary Issues on Trade Unions
6 The State in Industrial Relations
- Forms of State Interventions
- The changing and future role of the State in Industrial Relations
7 Negotiations
Purpose of Negotiation
- Types of Negotiation
- Negotiation Strategies
8. Collective Bargaining
- Definition
- Types of Bargaining
- Functions of Bargaining
- Management and Trade Union roles in bargaining
- Contemporary issues in Collective Bargaining
9. Industrial Action
- Functions
- Forms of Industrial Relations
- The Legal Framework of Industrial Action in Zimbabwe
10. I. R dynamics in Zimbabwe
- A historical account of Industrial Relations in Zimbabwe
- Organisation of workers

  • Globalisation

  • Technology

  • Flexibility

  • The new H.R Agenda

  • Social Dialogue

  • The future of Industrial Relations and the study of HRM in Zimbabwe

Importance of Industrial Relations:

Industrial Relations Home » Importance Of Industrial Relations

The healthy industrial relations are key to the progress and success. Their significance may be discussed as under –

  • UNINTERRUPTED PRODUCTION – The most important benefit of industrial relations is that this ensures continuity of production. This means, continuous employment for all from manager to workers. The resources are fully utilized, resulting in the maximum possible production. There is uninterrupted flow of income for all. Smooth running of an industry is of vital importance for several other industries; to other industries if the products are intermediaries or inputs; to exporters if these are export goods; to consumers and workers, if these are goods of mass consumption.

  • REDUCTION IN INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES – Good industrial relations reduce the industrial disputes. Disputes are reflections of the failure of basic human urges or motivations to secure adequate satisfaction or expression which are fully cured by good industrial relations. Strikes, lockouts, go-slow tactics, and grievances are some of the reflections of industrial unrest which do not spring up in an atmosphere of industrial peace. It helps promoting co-operation and increasing production.

  • HIGH MORALE – Good industrial relations improve the morale of the employees. Employees work with great zeal with the feeling in mind that the interest of employer and employees is one and the same, i.e. to increase production. Every worker feels that he is a co-owner of the gains of industry. The employer in his turn must realize that the gains of industry are not for him along but they should be shared equally and generously with his workers. In other words, complete unity of thought and action is the main achievement of industrial peace. It increases the place of workers in the society and their ego is satisfied. It naturally affects production because mighty co-operative efforts alone can produce great results.

  • MENTAL REVOLUTION – The main object of industrial relation is a complete mental revolution of workers and employees. The industrial peace lies ultimately in a transformed outlook on the part of both. It is the business of leadership in the ranks of workers, employees and Government to work out a new relationship in consonance with a spirit of true democracy. Both should think themselves as partners of the industry and the role of workers in such a partnership should be recognized. On the other hand, workers must recognize employer’s authority. It will naturally have impact on production because they recognize the interest of each other.

  • REDUCED WASTAGE – Good industrial relations are maintained on the basis of cooperation and recognition of each other. It will help increase production. Wastages of man, material and machines are reduced to the minimum and thus national interest is protected.

Thus, it is evident that good industrial relations is the basis of higher production with minimum cost and higher profits. It also results in increased efficiency of workers. New and new projects may be introduced for the welfare of the workers and to promote the morale of the people at work. An economy organized for planned production and distribution, aiming at the realization of social justice and welfare of the massage can function effectively only in an atmosphere of industrial peace. If the twin objectives of rapid national development and increased social justice are to be achieved, there must be harmonious relationship between management and labor.

Contract of employment
Elements of the contract
Forms\ types
Sources of contract terms
Minimum statutory standards
Express statements of the parties to the contracts
Collective agreements
Organizational rules
Custom and practice
Common law and duties of employers
Common law and duties of employees
Psychological Contract

  • It refers to the expectations of the employer and the employee that operate in addition to the formal contract of employment

  • It has been defined by Rousseau (1994) cited by Hiltrop (1995:287) as “the understanding people have regarding the commitments made between themselves and their organisation.”

  • It therefore, is concerned with each party’s perception of what the other party to the employment relationship owes them over and above that which may be specified in the contract of employment.

  • The contract is not clear as to the content and because it is based on perceptions, it is not written down

  • Mullins (1996) points out that there is a continuous process of balancing and explicit and implicit bargaining over the contract content and more over that the individual and the organisation may not be aware consciously of the contract “terms”. However, these terms affect their behavior and relationship.

  • One of the aspects of the psychological contract that has gained prominence over the years is the traditional employee perception that the organisation promises a “job for life” (examples) in return for employee loyalty and commitment. This is still practiced if we take the case of local government, civil service and parastatals.

  • Some jobs are fast changing in terms of nature and content hence driving a twist of the psychological contract for example, the changes in the banking sector. The coming in of IT to replace people has shifted people’s expectations and hence the psychological contract.

  • Organisations now need managers that are less experienced, more commercially aware, more energetic, and they could be easily obtained, and retained, more cheaply than their predecessors.

  • Research reviewed by Sparrow (2000) highlights the changing nature of the organisation of work and its implications on the psychological contract, e.g., experiences of redundancy, for example, are often viewed by the older workers as a violation of the psychological contract, and are significantly related to their adoption of personal responsibility for their career development (Sparrow 2000) also issues of termination or grows of incapacitation, etc.

  • Herriot and Pemberton (1995) argued that the psychological contract has moved from one that is relational- based on mutual trust and commitment- to one that is transactional- based upon mutual instrumentality of the work- effort- reward bargain.

  • It demonstrates a shift from focus on job security on the part of employees towards employability security.

  • According to Hiltrop (1995:289) in the new type of psychological contract “there is no job security. The employee will be employed as long as s (he) adds value to the organisation and is personally responsible for finding new ways to add value. In return the employee has the right to demand interesting and important work has the freedom and resources to perform it well, receives extra pay that reflect his/her contribution and gets the experience and training needed to be employable here or elsewhere.”

Characteristics of the ‘old’ and new psychological contract




Focus of the E/R

Security and long term careers in the company

Employability to cope with changes with this and future employment


Structured and predictable

Flexible and unpredictable




Underlying principle

Influenced by tradition

Drive by market forces

Intended output

Loyalty and commitment

Value added

Employer’s key responsibility

Fair pay for a fair day’s work

High pay for job performance

Employee’s key responsibility

Good performance in present job

Making a difference to the organisation

Employer’s key input

Stable income and career

Opportunities for self development

Employee’s key input

Time and effort

Knowledge and skills

Source- Hiltrop (1995:290)

So the contract is based on the theory of reciprocation/ exchange theory by Cox and Parkinson (1999), where individuals make an investment with expectations that an appropriate reward will be forthcoming.

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