Industrial labor employment relations
Traditional industrial relations and human resource practices of countries are commonly referred to as employment relationships. Industrial employment relationships of nations have been subject to constant changes due to the rapidly changing global economic environment, which has a direct impact on the industry and the labor workforce of countries and the corporations which function in them.
The case of Singapore’s employment and labor scenario has been defined as “a model of harmonious industrial relations” (Easson in Sheridan, 1995). Singapore has a small population of about 4.3 million people, out of which a majority of them are Chinese (Kim, 2006). Being the Asian hub for multinational organizations in the Asian region, the economy of Singapore relies greatly on foreign funds, in view of which, the government has taken substantial steps in developing labor policies which have the potential to attract foreign investments into their capital markets. In Singapore, industrial and employment relations are efficiently divided into three crucial parts all of which work in unison for collective advantage; the People’s Action Party (PAP) government, the employers and the employees or workers who work for them. Following the control of the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the year 1959, the government formed the Nation Union Trade Congress (NUTC) which strictly controls the labor movements of the country (Kim, 2006). There is a close relationship between the labor unions and the government, which reflects strength between the tripartite relationships (Barr, 2000). Labor is not an independent movement in Singapore and the government has tight reigns over all its activities through the inclusion of unions in the drafting of national policies pertaining to them (Kim, 2006). This tripartite coalition between the government, the managers and the workforce has been highly influential in benefiting numerous Singapore citizens through the enhancement in the lifestyle and standard of living.
Apparently, the labor movement of Singapore is not an autonomous, rather, functions in subordination to the government and with the higher ranks of the NTUC governed and controlled by the members of the PAP. As such, the National Trade Union Congress does not have the capacity or power to act or function independently, over and above the control and authority of the government (Barr, 2000). The actions of the union are closely scrutinized and monitored by the government and have to adhere to stringent regulation, leaving little potential for collective bargaining ability of the union for the benefit of workers and members of the union (Kim, 2006). Obviously, this leaves the union with absolutely no capacity or permission from the government to bargain over issues which affect employees, including transfers of workers, promotions, layoffs and job assignments. The government completely prohibits strikes in certain important industries which are crucial to the economy and public utility, including gas, electric power supply and water resource and supply (Leggett, 1993).
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The tripartite system of governance in industrial and employment relations comes with its share of advantages to the general public, apart from reducing the inconvenience to industries and causing a threat or loss to the economic structure of country. The Paternalistic element if the employment relations in Singapore, proved particularly beneficial during the economic crises which hit the Asian countries in the year 1997-98 and industries were engaging in layoff practices. However, to the bliss of employees, government intervention was initiated through the tripartite agreement, so that employers, who did not initiate layoffs, received financial incentives and other benefits from the government (Kuruvilla et al., 2002). In this way, although the government is strictly in control of the labor union, it pays attention to see that the workforce and the general public are not harmed in any way due to the changing economic scenarios. As a result of this control, the power of unions is greatly reduced which consequently leads to lesser scope for issues and problems related to strikes and labor unions, proving directly beneficial to industries and organizations which can function effectively and with great ease in Singapore. The government does control labor unions tightly, but also ensures that the overall public is not harmed in any way due to the changing global financial situations, thereby proving to be beneficial to the labor workforce of the nation in which the government insulates the public from the problems and issues which could otherwise have a direct adverse affect.