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Achieving individual and group objectives - employees

Methods used by employees to achieve individual and group objectives


Employees are likely to have one, or a combination of the following objectives:

  • Increased pay rates or protection against pay cuts
  • Improved employment packages, such as fringe payments
  • Better working conditions
  • Increased job security
  • Better training opportunities
  • Recognition of trade union rights
  • Personal protection form harassment at work
  • Improved communication and greater participation in the decision making process
  • Protected grievance procedures
  • Flexible working practices, e.g. flexible working hours

Unions1.pngIf trade unions or employee representatives are unable to reach agreement with employers in their negotiations, then they may enter into an industrial dispute. In this case, they have a number of sanctions they may use to try to put employers under pressure. These include:

  • Negotiations - Employees and employers may enter prolonged negotiations on pay and conditions. Employees may be able to put pressure on employers to improve their existing offer, especially if the employees are represented by a trade union or accomplished negotiator, such as an experienced agent. It is rare in any negotiation for either side to put forward their least acceptable position. For example, in a bargaining process, employers will normally offer pay increases below the level that they are prepared to pay. Similarly, trade unions are likely to ask for large improvements in pay and conditions, but be willing to accept lower improvements. Both sides may be prepared to compromise and reach agreement without threats.
  • Go slow - Employees deliberately use strategies to work slower and reduce productivity and total output. They may do this in a number of ways, such as paying specific attention to every health and safety requirement or simply taking longer over every task.
  • Work to rule - employees follow exact rules and procedures to the letter. For example, they refuse to undertake any activity not directly specified in their contract of employment and ensure they arrive at work exactly on time and leave immediately their shift is complete. This will also reduce productivity and therefore total production.
  • Overtime bans - workers refuse to do overtime. In some industries, such as communications, this action may be extremely disruptive as employees frequently work overtime to maintain acceptable levels of service. Once again, this will reduce productivity and therefore total production.
  • Strikes - Employees fully withdraw their labour and refuse to work. This is usually in response to the breakdown of collective bargaining or to an action by management that is seen as provocative or threatening to the employees' rights. The strike may be for a fixed period (e.g. one-day strikes), rolling (in that there are a sequence of strikes) or full-time until the dispute with the employers is resolved. Strikes are official if sanctioned by the union after consultation with the workforce, or unofficial when a group of employees decides to withdraw their labour without official sanction.