Role of Management and Unions in the Workplace

Role of Management and Unions in the Workplace
City, State
Date of Submission
Any group of people working together requires a form of management to ensure
maximized productivity. Management refers to the act of bringing people together in the bid to
accomplish set objectives by maximum utilization of the available resources. Management
involves activities such as staffing, organizing, directing, planning and controlling. A particular
group of people is responsible for the various tasks in an organization. The main responsibility of
management is to ensure the well-being of the employees since they are the primary resource
into the achievement of the organization.
According to Kramer (1998), employees in Australia have been complaining of
substandard treatment in their workplace. The have been calling for the review of the
management systems in their work places to enhance the interaction between the employees and
the employers. The poor communication and treatment in work places is a reflection of poor
management systems.
To ensure their welfare is well catered for, employees form unions. Unions comprise of
the workers’ representatives. The work of the union is to make sure that the employees are not
abused in their workplaces. Most of the organizations allow the union formation and most
multinational companies encourage union activities. However, not all business management
systems permit the formation of unions among its employees. This paper will discuss the
management’s ability to determine whether a union should operate in their workplace.
Roles of Management
According to Schraeder (2014), there are five primary functions of management which
include; planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Planning refers to the act of getting to lay
down the course of action and activities that are to be taken. Leaders are involved in this process
as well as employees in some organizations. This role determines the direction of which the
company follows and hence requires a lot of decision-making. The decision-making process
depends on the organization.
Organizing refers to the act of allocating resources to the various projects being carried
out by the company. The organizing committee distributes resources such as money and
workforce. The organization allows the functions of the organizations to proceed as planned by
planning in advance. This role is usually carried out by leaders only after receiving feedback
from the various departments in the organizations.
Controlling refers to the managerial efforts of monitoring both the organizational and
employee performance with the aim of achieving the set goals. There are various strategies of
employee control. They include, direct control which involves the strict supervision and minimal
employee discretion; responsible autonomy which allows employees to govern themselves. The
various forms of control include personalized control in which employees are under their
supervisors ‘control, technical control whereby the work system and activities control the action
of the employees. Another form of control is the bureaucratic control that involves control via
documented policies and rules. Commitment-based control involves cultivation of employee
motivation towards aligning their interests to the betterment of the organization.
Controlling the organization is done by the people at the top of the hierarchy. This is
because it covers all the activities that are carried out in the organization. Controlling links all the
various departments in the organization and come up with the course of action for an
organization. The functions it undertakes include; provision of data related to the activities
carried out, psychological empowerment and ensuring continuous improvement among other
The management control strategy depends on the employees’ acceptance or resistance,
market forces and state regulation. The control strategies are implemented through unions,
individual employees, a third party or through technology.
The next role is leading which refers to the process of influencing the employee
performance through actions such as motivation, staffing, salary handling, and promotions. This
role is manifested to the human resource managers and they ensure that, the employee welfare is
well taken care of. In some organizations, the employees are involved in the process of coming
up with suggestions on how they expect to be handled (Dubrin, 2012).
Most management systems are keen on ensuring high productivity among the workers.
Productivity refers to output per unit input. The introduction of productivity while managing
employees raised a lot of controversy in the working environment. Employees claimed that they
were being overworked and hence needed the work to be specific and done at a specific time.
This led to the introduction of the unions who pushed for specified working hours and amount.
Roles of the workers’ unions
Unions have been in existence for a long period now. In Australia specifically, Unions
came up as the nation became more industrialized and division of labor started to take shape
Their role was to come up with a collective bargaining power for the employees’ benefits,
salaries and wages, work rules and power. They grew rapidly from 1930s-1950s and declined
from the 1960s to the present. The influence of unions has waxed and waned over time and in the
process impacting mainly on the way of life of employees all over the world (Donhoff, 2016).
According to statistics, union formation has declined gradually since 1962 in Australia. Unions
in Australia are taking a turn from blue collar male unionists’ domination and cutting across all
the career sectors and gender. (Colebatch, 2013There are different types of unions including
industrial, white collar, general and craft unions.
The trade union working theories include the pluralist theory whereby, the unions act as
the representatives of the workers and air their views. Another theory is the social-psychological
theory whereby the unions ensure the employees’ welfare is catered for. Unions also act as
vehicles for revolutionary changes in the industry.
Unions have five principle functions. These include; service, representation, regulation,
government and public administration services (Ewing, 2005). The major role of the unions is
the collective bargaining. Employees may not be in a situation to deliver their issues to the
employer. Some employers are not approachable; others are not easily accessible by the
subordinates on the lower end of the hierarchy. The unions, therefore, are used as a mode of
accessing the employers and bargaining on behalf of the employees.
Another role of the unions is the representation of wage claims. Depending on the
working conditions, employees may request for a salary increase. However, presentation of the
complaints as an individual may not be attainable and hence the unions are used as a medium
between the employees and the employer. This is usually common in governmental
organizations. In case their complaints are not considered, the unions organize strikes or
demonstrations. Unions also engage in activities that ensure the employees’ welfare such as
offering loans for business startups and providing insurance covers (Salamon, 2000).
The unions also ensure that the employees have job security. They protect the employees
from possible demotions, dismissals, retrenchments, severe and unwarranted disciplining. They
also ensure fair treatment such as promotions and the hiring process equality. The unions also
engage in political and social activities apart from the employee welfare.
Does an organization have a mandate to the presence or absence of
unions in an organization?
To answer this question, the most important thing to consider is whether the said industry
is catering for the employees’ welfare to the level best. A good organization brings about
harmony between the employees and the working environment. Employees in an organization
that takes their well-being seriously may not need to form a union to represent them. However, in
the case of organizations that disregard the employee welfare, the workers may be forced to form
unions to represent them.
Managing unionized organization has its set of challenges that can make it hard for the
managers. These may include ineffective communication due to the fact that, communication has
to pass through the Union. Another challenge is the rendering of the system worthless due to the
disregard for authority. Unions can also cause conflicts within the workplaces making them
unproductive. The Union also pushes for specified working periods and specific tasks. This
inflexibility can be damaging to the organization's setup and disrupt the normal working
conditions (Hainsworth, 2000).
The fact that unions push for rights that may not work according to the organization's
requirements may make the managers disregard the whole idea. An organization, therefore, has
the mandate to decide whether the employees can form a union or not. For private companies,
making the decision and impacting on it is easy. However, this may not be the case in
government organizations in which employees are allowed to push for their rights of union
The roles played by the workers’ unions are of high importance to the employees; It acts
as a go between the employees and the employer and ensures that the working conditions are
favorable. However, as discussed above, the presence of unions in the organizations can cause a
lot of negative pressure on the management. Poor management would, in turn, result in the
demise of the organization. Those who are power especially in private companies are capable
determining whether there is the need for the employees to form unions or not. Alternatively,
management unions have also been proposed. These associations can be used to face the pressure
from the workers’ unions.
Reference list
Colebatch, H. (2013). Australia's secret war: how trade unions sabotaged Australian Military
Forces in World War II.
Donhoff, W. (2016). Who Rules America? Power, Politics, & Social Change. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 February.
Dubrin, A. J. (2012). Essentials of management. Mason, Ohio, South-Western/Thomson
Ewing, K. (2005). The Function of Trade Unions. Industrial Law Journal, 34(1), pp.1-22.
Hainsworth, G. B. (2000). Globalization and the Asian economic crisis: localized responses,
coping strategies, and governance reform in Southeast Asia ; [papers from the
Conference Emerging Southeast Asian Identities in an Era of Volatile Globalization, held
in Vancouver, October 22 - 24 1999 ; joint international Conference of the Canadian
Council for Southeast Asian Studies and the Northwest Regional Consortium for
Southeast Asian Studies]. Vancouver, Centre for Southeast Asia Research.
Kramar, R. (1998). Flexibility in Australia: implications for employees and managers. Employee
Relations, 20(5), pp.453-460.
Salamon, M. (2000). Industrial relations: theory and practice. Harlow [u.a.], Financial Times
Prentice Hall.
Schraeder, M. (2014). The Functions of Management as Mechanisms for Fostering Interpersonal
Trust. Advances in business research, 5, pp.50-62.

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