The term 'industrial relations' came into common use in Britain and North America during the 1920s. It has been joined by personnel management and, since the 1980s, human resource management (HRM). All there denote a particular activity (the management of people) and the area of academic enquiry. It covers relationship between manger and worker in all spheres of economic activity. The focus is employment: all forms of economic activity in which an employee works under the authority of an employer and receives a wage in return for his or her labour. Industrial relations thus excludes domestic labour and also self-employed and professionals who work under own account.
Most studies of industrial relations have focused on the intuitions involved with the collective bargaining, arbitration and other forms of job regulation. However, we see industrial relations as dealing with all aspects of employee relationship including human resource management.
Although the study of employment relations focuses on the regulation of work, it must take into account of the wider economic and social influences on the relative power of capital and labour and the interaction of the employers, workers, their collective organizations and the state. Adam (1988) sees industrial relations as having a dual character: it is both an interdisciplinary and a separate discipline in its own right'. Adopting an internationally comparative approach to employment relations not only insight from several disciplines but also knowledge of different national context. In this paper I will try to examine the ways in which comparative analysis can contribute to an understanding of the factors that shape national patterns of employment relations and identify the main features of two different countries.
Industrial relations system
Perhaps the most famous conceptual framework is Dunlop's (1958) notion of an 'industrial relations system'. Dunlop argues that the industrial relations system includes three sets of 'actors' and their representative organizations (the three parties): employers, workers and the state. These parties' relations are determined by three environmental context: the technology; market forces; and the relative power and status of the parties.
The United Kingdom has a total population of 60 million people and a labour force participation rate of 75 percent. The UK has fewer people employed in agriculture than any other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country. About 27 percent of its other civilian population employees work in the industry. The remaining 70 percent work in service. There has been a greater decline in its 'industry' category since 1970 than any other OECD country. In spite the relative growth of services, there was steep rise in unemployment. 12 percent in the year 1986 before subsequently falling to 7 percent in the late 1990s.
British politics has been dominated by two parties since 1945. The Conservative Party's support is strongest among the business and rural communities. By contrast, the Labour Party's support is traditionally strongest in the urban working class communities, through this has broadened. A significant but reducing proportion of its fund still comes from affiliated trade unions. There are several other political parties, including Liberal Democrats and nationalist parties