Industrial Relations, Labour Relations and Human Resources Management

Published: 2021-09-13 06:50:10
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Chapter OneIndustrial relations, labour relations and human resources managementIndustrial relations (IR) generally refers to the employment relationship in a unionized environment.  It examines relationships between employees (and their unions) and companies (and their managers) as well as the government agencies that oversee this relationship.Some academics ague that the term industrial relations also encompasses the employment relationship in non-union settings but this is not the generally accepted use of the term in industry.  For example, the University of Toronto Centre for Industrial Relations at 121 St. George St. recently changed its name to the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources to reflect the fact the IR tends to refer to unionized employment relationships while HR focuses on non-union settings.Labour Relations – this term is less contentious and refers to employment relationships and issues in a unionized setting. Also known as union-management relations.  In many firms, the managers involved in labour relations for the company are called “Labour Relations Manager” or “VP of Labour Relations”A union is a group of employees (at least two) who are recognized by law (Labour Relations Act) who collectively bargain terms and conditions of employment with their employer.The terms and conditions of employment are contained in the “Collective Agreement” (CA).  Once negotiated, the company must abide by the CA and all employees in the bargaining unit are covered by the terms of the CA.The process of negotiating the collective agreement is called collective bargaining.  It is “collective” in the sense that the agreement applies to all employees in the bargaining unit.  It is bargaining in the sense that both parties (union and management) attempt to get what is best for their side so there is compromise, give and take and attempts to exert power and influence over the other party.  One way a union attempts to influence power at the bargaining table is to strike (withdraw services of employees) or threaten to strike.  Companies can threaten to “lock out” employees as a way to exert power at the bargaining table.

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