Labor relations is mainly concerned with the workers in any labor field and the relationship with their employees (Canadian Encyclopedia). It can also be referred to as industrial relation when used in the context of the industry. This field is important in the analysis of some key issues affecting workers, for instance, it looks at capitalism. democracy and liberalism. This relationship can be viewed from different levels as labor workers are organized at different levels.
For instance, in an organization the workers may be organized at the organization level, they may also have a union that represents them at the national level and lastly at the national level, thus labor relation is an issue that is addressed at different levels, be it at the organizational level, regional or national levels. Labor relations can be viewed from two perspectives that are, pluralistic and Marxist.
The process by which the workforce organizes itself to bargain for workers’ issues as an entity is known as collective bargaining. This term may take on a more specific meaning in legal terms. The freedom of association and thus the recognition of the rights to bargain collectively is a basic human right (Universal Declaration of human rights). Thus workers are entitled to the right to collectively bargain for their rights especially in cases where there is an infringement of their rights.
The sector of the economy that is in place mainly for the gains of a few individuals is referred to as the private sector. This sector of the economy mainly deals in the provision of goods and services that are of secondary use to the human person. The private sector is thus the business-minded side of an economy that provides goods and services that better the lives of people at costs that ensure they gain from the venture.
Even though the sector is free of state control there is a need for the state to put in place legislation that will govern its activities and thus monitor their activities. The main aim of the private sector is to make a profit and in doing so it contributes to the economy by creating employment opportunities, providing services, and contributing to the countries GDP.
Provision of certain essential services cannot be left in the hand of the private sector there is a need for governments to create institutions that deal in the provision of such services, such institutions from the public sector. The public sector is mainly concerned with the provision and accessibility of basic services to the people rather than profitability. The composition of the public sector greatly relies on a countries policy and it, therefore, varies from one country to another. In general, the public sector is made up of the following institutions: the police, military, health, basic education, and public works (InvestorWords).
There are many differences that exist between the private and the public sector for instance in the public sector management power is distributed across its branches of government thus its employees, to a fair degree, have a significant say on who ultimately become their bosses. These two factors lead to the complexity of collective bargaining in the public sector.
The private and public employees view differently the inducements involved in their jobs. A recent survey showed that public employees attach less attention to inducements that involve career development and monetary rewards this is different from their compatriots in the private sector.
Although the private sector is diverse, the mechanisms in the industry are such that they generally produce products that are not particularly essential and can be substituted. Their unions are generally the same throughout the country, this is not the case with the public sector unions whose unions deal in very diverse aspects of the provision of services.
There are several differences between Collective bargaining in the private and public sectors. First, collective bargaining in the public sector is more political as compared to the same in the public sector (Kehoe and Archer). An average employee in the private sector cannot afford to engage in politics for he works for long hours in order to attain a competitive edge against their rivals, and has very little incentives because his employer’s main aim is to create profit. On the other hand, the average civil servant has more financial incentives. It is also important to note that the public sector employees form the larger part of the population.
This gives them the power to select leaders who have pledged to put the union’s interests at heart. This makes them very influential in the election of public leaders and thus the leaders always seek to impress them even if it is at the expense of the citizens and the taxpayers. The other means by which they influence the outcome of the public election is by funding some candidates. In states where government employees are legally forced to collectively bargain, they pay mandatory union registration fees. Considering a large number of their member’s such unions are financially empowered and can easily provide financial support to the candidate that will unquestionably support their agendas.
The second difference comes in their success rates. It is clear that the public sector unions are more successful in championing their members’ rights. This is bought about by a key difference that determines the activities of the collective bargaining institutions or unions. The main issue in the private sector is profitability while in the public sector is the provision of services. This major difference implies that the private unions are limited in the types of demands they can make as the rife competition among the private sector players has to be put into consideration in every demand they make.
Failure to do so by bringing forth unreasonable demands that will place undue pressure on the business entity is unreasonable and may lead to the eventual collapse and bankruptcy of the institution if the said demands are implemented. This may lead to the loss of employment as the union will be disbanded for lack of an employer. This is not the case in the public sector where the unions are well known for making very unreasonable demands and ultimatums. There being vocal and extremely unreasonable is because failure to meet their demands will lead to the disruption of basic services and so they are normally taken seriously. This explains why public-sector collective bargaining is more efficient and usually yields results.
The are several similarities in the way the private and the public sector collectively bargain. First, in both cases, there is the issue of the formation of unions. Secondly, the two kinds of unions go about their business in the same i.e. the mechanism by which they go about troubleshooting in case of misunderstanding is the same.
Thirdly, in both cases, the employees’ issues are raised via the unions who are then responsible to raise the issue with their employers after which they go about bargaining till a solution is met. Lastly, in the event that their grievances are not attended to, they use similar mechanisms to try and push their agendas through, these mechanisms include: issuing ultimatums, staging go-slows, and strikes which are generally meant to disrupt the normal flow of activities in order to shift the attention to their grievances.
There are some key issues that clearly distinguish public labor relations from private labor relations. These differences are clearly brought out in the following key issues. First, in case of resignation, a public worker has a limited number of avenues through which to seek legal redress. This has been brought about by a legal system that considers the state as an employer with no blemish in most of the cases brought against it by its employees.
This is not so for workers in the private sector as the law is so keen on the plight of private workers. It is quite correct to state that though the government has protected workers against other parties it has failed to do so in cases where it is the aggressor.
The other main difference between relations in the public and private sectors comes in the appointment. The appointment of a public employee can be described as; a unilateral legal act. On the other hand, the appointment of a private employee can be seen as a legal act that is private in nature. Thus it is quite clear that the employee has no say in the terms of his employment in the case of employment in the public sector. On the other hand, an employee in the private sector negotiates the terms of his employment.
Another difference comes in the fact the appointment of a private employee is a bilateral legal affair between the employee and his employer. Consequently, any misunderstandings and disagreements between the two parties have to be solved in a civil court. This is not so in cases involving employees in the public sector since the protection of public servants against their employers is an issue placed under the jurisdiction of the administrative courts.
The similarities between public sector labor relations and those of the public sector are many. First, in both sectors, there is an agreed term of employment that the employees have to agree to before their appointment. It should be noted that these terms should be in accordance with the labor laws of the country.
Next, there is an avenue for collective bargaining in both cases this is so because both sectors are governed by the statutes of the labor laws. The unions have also been given the mandate to negotiate for their members in solving issues between the employer and the employees and to some degree between employees.
In conclusion, it can be stated that though the differences between the public and private sectors public relations and collective bargaining are inconclusive they are quite crucial in determining the success of the unions in meeting their members’ demands.
Archer, Maurice and Kehoe, Frank. Canadian Industrial Relations 6th edition: 20th Century Labor Publications, 1991.
The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2008. Web.
Universal Declaration of human rights. 1948. Web.