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Labour Relations - Essay Example

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Labour Relations

"Unions are becoming more popular, however the gap between employer resistance is growing through various union avoidance strategies."
Governments, took some responsibility for setting the terms and conditions under which people had to work in the paid labour market. Unions played an important role in this process, improving upon the terms and conditions of employment, offering workers a voice in workplace decisions to counterbalance the power of employers, and pressuring governments to establish and improve upon policies and regulations governing the labour market. Unions spend more time and resources reaching out to and trying to understand groups of workers and workplaces that at one time were invisible in the union. This includes youth, women, people of color, and those employed on a contingent basis, particularly in the private service sector. Unions across Canada have undergone a radical transformation in their orientation towards membership expansion through organizing the unorganized. Although employers and governments play an important and active role in diminishing union popularity and influence, unions have unwittingly reinforced many negative views about their practice.
Management has complete discretion to lay-off, transfer or terminate people based on business decisions. Through collective bargaining, unions have been able to offer workers greater job security through clauses on seniority, advance notice of lay-off, restrictions on contracting out and language on technological change (Rose & Chaison 87). At times of economic insecurity and competitiveness and as businesses engage in rapid restructuring of their operations, these provisions become ever more important in providing people with some degree of control in their employment situation.

Government social policies in Canada reduced people's utter dependence on the labour market and set the minimum terms and conditions for employment. Welfare programmes, mother's allowance and unemployment insurance, as well as public healthcare and education, all acted to reduce people's dependence upon the labour market. These programmes provided them

1 "Unions and Federations in Canada ." Dyjan A N. 2005. pp. 37-38

with a buffer against the harshness of the marketplace in recognition of difficult and different life experiences. Similarly, government regulation of minimum wage, hours of work, and health and safety standards established socially acceptable minimum standards for employment.

Unionism in Canada and the United States
Although unions have devoted considerable energy and resources to new initiatives, the overall evidence leads us to generally pessimistic conclusions. The level and direction of union density rates indicates the two labour movements lack the institutional frameworks and public policies to achieve sustained revival. Significant gains in union membership and density levels will require nothing less than a paradigm shift in the industrial relations systems-a broadening of the scope and depth of ...Show more

Summary

Unions represent approximately a third of the workforce in Canada. Through collective bargaining and their role of representing workers day-to-day in the workplace, unions have a significant positive impact on workers' wages, benefits, and working conditions, while also providing them with a voice in their workplace…
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