Last Updated 02 Aug 2020

Collectivism and Individualism in Industrial Relations

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The main idea behind the collectivist model happens to be that of collective bargaining. Collective negotiation “is the method of fixing the terms of employment and settling grievances arising from those terms by negotiation between union(s) and employer(s)” (Isaac 1958: 348). Usually, for a definition of collective bargaining Flanders (1970:41) is referred to and his description of the subject is a “rule making process”.

By means of collective negotiation, unions are “interested in regulating wages as well as raising them; and, of course, in regulating a wide range of other issues pertaining to their members’ jobs and working lives. In turn, a trade union is a continuous association of wage-earners1 for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their working lives” (Webb & Webb 1920). There is an occurrence of collective negotiation due to the inequity between the authority of the bosses and particular workers (Fox 1974: 28).

It was in the 19th century that Australia saw the face of collective bargaining and this was following the creation of trade unions plus the unplanned employee groups. The trade unions were, many a times, disbanded. There were several significant industrial disputes in the time of the 1980s while the workers attempted at replacing collective bargaining and hiring at union rates with “freedom to contract” and thus diminish the authority and membership of the unions.

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In those conflicts the workers turned out to be victorious and they did not bargain with the unions. However, there was a formation of negotiation and it existed together with collective bargaining till many many years. The legislature had actually reacted in this way to the requirement to prevent more harmful disputes and for the restoration of the inequity in negotiation authority which had risen due to personal contracting (Hagan 1977; Macintyre 1983; Deery et al 1997).

The direct opposite of collective bargaining happens to be the direct opposite of personal employment agreements. Nevertheless, individual agreements are not equal to “individual employment contract”. Regrettably, an inaccuracy exists to some extent in the usage of the term “individualism” at the time when employment contracts are being referred to, and it arises due to the various explanations which the different people assume, the variety of ideas to which the word can be referred to and the conflation of sense in certain language.

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