Totus HR School organised a Webinar on Industrial Relations.
It focused not on the negatives, but on bringing out more constructive aspects
which are practised.
I was one of the anchors in the Webinar. It made me look for
some material on ‘Shared vision’ in Industrial Relations. Here are two cases of
Shared Vision that caught my eyes.
The ‘Shared Vision’ in Industrial Relations is so rare that
these two examples stand out.
Here is what the Southwest Airlines says it does:
1. Southwest accepts the unions as legitimate
representatives of employees and as valued partners in the organization.
Doing this removes the traditional anti-union bias which is
the first major hurdle to good relations. By accepting whichever unions the
employees choose to align themselves with, the Southwest management team
demonstrate they trust the employee’s judgement.
2. Southwest expects the unions to have an intense loyalty
to the company and a feeling of ownership.
Therefore, when negotiating with the unions, there is an
anticipation they will act reasonably. Due to the fact Southwest employees have
chosen to belong to six different unions, there is anticipation the other
unions will help ensure none of their number make excessive demands.
3. Southwest treats the unions as full partners, not like
some albatross hanging around their organization’s neck.
From that perspective, Southwest supplies each union with
accurate information so negotiations can move forward in the bright light of
day rather than in an environment of mistrust and confusion.
But Shared Vision must also tell us how they will resolve
conflicts. This is what Southwest says on the subject:
To resolve conflicts, Southwest Airlines has a well-defined
1. The parties themselves are encouraged to use every means
available to resolve the conflict themselves first. If that’s not possible,
managers are expected to take an active role in developing a solution which
will be suitable.
2. An information gathering meeting is held, at which both
sides of the conflict put forward their perspectives on the issues involved.
Many times, conflicts sort themselves out at this stage mainly because better
communication is achieved.
3. If the conflict is still unresolved, the managers hold
what is called unofficially a “Come to Jesus” meeting. This is a face-to-face
meeting which takes an entire day. By the end of this meeting, most problems
have been able to be resolved because of the dialogue that takes place between
the parties and the managers.
The overall process sounds simple, but when well
implemented, conflict resolution becomes more of a team building exercise and
less of a source of destructive energy. Note that Southwest takes a proactive
approach to resolving disputes, and never leaves these conflicts and
differences as background issues which should be ignored. Instead, the company
works on the premise conflicts will naturally arise from time to time –
particularly given the pressures of the flight schedule an airline works to. By
using these conflicts productively as opportunities for learning, Southwest
strengthens relationships between groups of employees, shares knowledge and
fosters mutual respect between different teams within the company.
“We have worked for years to get to this point. We have a
very heated, potentially dangerous operation on the ramp. There is a lot of
stress when the plane is on the ground. Inevitably some conflict will arise. If
something happens out of the ordinary, if you feel someone didn’t handle
something correctly, you fill out a report. We got so many reports after a
while we added a line. ‘If it involved a Southwest employee, have you discussed
it with him or her?’ If we got a form where the answer was no, we would call
and say, why don’t you all have a chat? The local managers will help get the
people together. When the senior managers get the final report, we decide if a
‘Come to Jesus’ meeting is needed.
We tell them this is not a disciplinary meeting. We are just
moderators, the focus is on the employees.”
Shell Employees Union
SSEU was very proactive, it documented its future direction
A Shared Industrial Relations
Vision for employees of Shell Companies in Singapore arose from a desire to
improve the industrial climate in the organization. Both the union and the
management have been trying to remain relevant and effective in their own ways.
In 1988, the Singapore Shell
Employees Union documented its future direction in the plan of action,
"Facing the Future - Plan of Action for the 1990s".
In 1991, the Company launched
their mission and vision statements to the employees. This was in response to a
perceived need among the employees to know what the company's basic beliefs are
and the direction the company is heading.
Traditionally, the benefits
sought by the SSEU and the management's desires to expand productive
efficiency, thus reducing the unit operating cost and increasing profitability,
the SIRV came in place.
The Shared Industrial Relations
Vision (SIRV) aims to let both the company and the union achieve their
traditional desires by combining their individual visions. This will make the
company more successful, the union more effective and the employees better off,
economically and socially with a better quality of working life.
The basic difference between this
shared vision and other forms of labour management co-operation is that, both
parties share the understanding that gains for one part does not mean a loss
for the other. Both the company and the union can work together to strengthen
each other and prosper for the benefit of the employees.
The Shell Management and SSEU
reaffirmed the Shared Industrial Relations Vision (SIRV) and together embarked
on a new era in industrial relations. Both the Company and Union re-affirmed
their full commitment to the SIRV at SSEU Delegates' Conference held on 24
September 1999. The following was announced as a joint visible demonstration of
this Shared Vision.
- Shell Companies in Singapore and Singapore Shell
Employees' Union are committed to the well-being of employees.
- We believe that this requires a successful Company
and an effective Union working together in a strategic alliance to meet
challenges, seize opportunities, solve problems and enhance the quality of
work life in an ever changing environment. To this end,
- We will conduct industrial relations in a
professional, pragmatic, consistent, consultative and enlightened manner
with mutual respect, trust and openness at all levels.
- We will ensure that employees are well remunerated,
and rewarded in accordance with performance.
- We will ensure that employees are treated fairly,
with trust, respect and care.
- We will promote an environment in which employees
are well-informed, motivated and empowered to perform their best.
- We will ensure that employees are highly trained
and developed to the best of their abilities.
- We will promote a safe and healthy working
environment through the highest safety standards and greater awareness on
issues related to health, safety and environment.
- We will ensure the long term viability and growth
of the Company through productivity improvement, innovation and quality
improvement in products and services.
- We will ensure that Union remains effective by
supporting its activities and informing, consulting and involving it in
matters affecting employees.
- The fulfilment of this vision requires the
commitment, involvement and participation of all employees.
[Reaffirmed on the 24th
day of September 1999 Industrial Relations Operating Model between SSEU and
the Shell Companies in Singapore.] [Courtesy www.sseu.org.sg]
While there are a lot of Indian
Companies doing constructive work in Industrial Relations, those who know of
open communications like these may please post it here.
Labels: Industrial relations, Shared Vision