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industrial conflict


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Most academic observers regard conflict as an intrinsic, unavoidable feature of the employment relationship and believe that, whilst manifestations of conflict rise and fall over time, they can never wholly disappear. The reason behind this is a fundamental conflict of interest within the employment relationship, which finds expression in the employer's search for higher output, stricter control and reduced costs whilst the employee wants protection from overwork, autonomy, and higher wages. In analysing industrial conflict, several important distinctions can be drawn. The first is between latent and manifest conflict and refers to the distinction between conflict of interests and actual resort to conflict behaviour by workers and their managers. The second is between forms of conflict. These may be individual and informal, often embracing behaviour such as absenteeism, quitting, restriction of output, and sabotage. Alternatively, conflict may assume a collective, more organized form and embrace strikes and other forms of industrial action. It must also be recognized that employers engage in conflict, including the disciplining and dismissal of workers, the threat of closure, and the use of the lockout and victimization to counter trade unions. [See unitarism and pluralism.]

Subjects: Sociology — Human Resource Management.


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