In today’s world ‘Industrial Relation’ is an important factor for both the owners and the workers. Owner means one who owns a factory or industry and worker means one who works in a factory or industry in exchange of wages. Industrial relations may be defined as “the relations and interactions between the labour and management, and the result of their composite attitudes and approaches with regard to the conduct of affairs in the industry, for the betterment of management, workers and the industry as well as the economy as a whole”.
The term industrial relations explains the relationship between employees and management which stem directly or indirectly from union-employer relationships. Many times, we see that factories get paralysed or closed for indefinite time due to labour unrest for various reasons like demand for increased wages, betterment of factory environments or for the legal rights of labourers.If labourers do not get their proper wages, they cannot manage to provide for their basic necessities of life - food, clothes, shelter, education for their children and healthcare for their families. If they cannot fulfil their needs, they won’t work attentively and may get diverted towards illegal acts, i.e. vandalism, unrest inside or outside the factory, because we know that hungry people are angry people.
We celebrate International Labour Day on 1st May every year to commemorate the workers’ rights day. International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day in most countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that was promoted by the international labour movement. May 1 was chosen to be International Workers' Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. That year beginning on 1st May, there was a general strike for the eight-hour workday.
On May 4, 1886 the police dispersed a public assembly in support of the strike when an unidentified person threw a bomb. The police responded by firing on the workers. The event led to the deaths of seven police officers and at least thirty-eight civilians; sixty police officers were injured, as were one hundred and fifteen civilians. Hundreds of labour leaders and sympathisers were later rounded-up and four were executed by hanging, after a trial that was seen as a miscarriage of justice.
Labour is part and parcel of any organisation. Owners must look after their basic needs and wants at least in a way by which they can survive well. Owner-labour relations must be cordial and based on well-structured mutual respect. Corporate success of American company ‘Fort Howard Paper Company’ stands for their excellent owner-labour relationship and labour management leading to a productive and profitable company. Careful attention was given to their relationships from top to bottom of their organisation.
Every once in a while a company emerges from the dwindling preserves of private ownership in the United States economy to prove again that within the vastness of capitalists economy there are still surprising ways for creative management for distinctive companies with bright futures. The ‘Fort Howard Paper Company’ is an exemplary enterprise which first revealed its special corporate strengths to public view. Their labour-management relationship was exceptionally cordial and well structured. There were periodic communications between top management and employees at all levels of operations. On each significant anniversary of one’s employment (five, ten, fifteen years, etc.) each member of the staff was invited for coffee with the Company President. Community relations were taken seriously and were excellent.
In Bangladesh, we can also take steps for good relationships between labour and management. We can educate laborers with the rules of business, ethics, and moral procedures of agitation (if needed), addressing their sorrows, disappointments, causes of agitation, etc., to motivate them. The Bangladesh government has taken various reform activities for labour welfare including minimum wage, occupational health, maternity leave and other related health and safety policies.Bangladesh formed the National Labour Policy, Industrial Police Force, established Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation Act, retirement age and maternity leave for labours, etc. We can make some other measures in accordance with the changing situation in the competitive world. It may be relaxation of labour rules, division of labour and division of responsibility matching with age and education, right men in the right places, environment friendly labour recreational facilities, etc. It is known to all that any chaos and disorder are not acceptable in any organisation or industry for the sake of production and development. Chaos and disorder affects negatively on images of the factory, its production, income, wages and other development activities. It hampers export growth also.
We can focus on our labour forces as a human being and respect their rights and obligations in the working field. A machine on its own can produce nothing. The labours behind the machine are more important than the machines. The labours of our agriculture and industrial sectors are the driving forces of production, income and economy. Coordinated and cooperative efforts both from owners and labourers can ensure peaceful production in the factories and go towards further advancement of the country’s manufacturing sector.
The writer is a columnist.