Sample Essay Paper on Employee Relations & Reward

Employee Relations & Reward


This paper presents five different factors that can explain the differences in the success of unions in the various countries. The paper analyzes employee relations and rewards, more so the success of the unions. The success of the unions is different among the various countries due to different factors. One of the factors includes the categorization of unions because of the ideologies and organizational aspects in the labor industry. In addition, the occurrence of the political activities also affects the union revitalization in respective countries. The dynamic nature of labor force has also affected the success of unions in different periods. The theory of single mindedness indicates the nature of wage rates that promote the formation of different unions. Most important, the government authorities play a significant role in influencing the success of unions in the various economies. The government also affects the success of union due to the incorporation of the internal and administrative processes. Today, the unions represent only 16 per cent of the total labor forces. The unions’ representation has lowered in most of the Western European nations and Japan. Countries that have maintained successful unions include “Canada, Germany, and emerging nations from the East and Southern Asia. The labor unions remain as a significant aspect of the economy” (Howell, 2011). Therefore, the five factors and the single-minded theory would explain the nature of union success in the different countries.

Categorization of the Unions

First, the categorization of the unions can be used to explain their strengths in different countries since different countries have different forms of unions. The two broad categories of unions include the ideology and organizational forms of unions. The ideologies recognize the goals and objectives set by the union to fulfill the mission of the members. In explaining the nature of ideology unions, “it is important to distinguish between political unionism and business unions” (Fairbrother & Yates, 2013). In most countries, the politically motivated unions are usually superior to the business unions. Countries with successful unions are usually politically oriented union covering a large working class movement. The political associations are characterized by working class political affiliations.

The range of political unions was dedicated to the revolutionary activities that are not represented in the modern world. In most developed countries, politically oriented unions are helpful in handling conflicts between the interests of workers, the capitalist model. The unions advocates for improved nationalization of the significant industries and other limitations on free enterprises (Prevost, Rao, & Williams, 2012). On the other hand, most political unions found in Western Europe support the increase of workers voice  in the decision making process in businesses. For example, the German codetermination system sought to appoint worker representatives in the company’s senior management and board. The system also leads to the development of work council that provides resources for organizational problem solving and respective decision-making.

In spite of the success of union in Western Europe and other developing countries, the modern American labor unions have been known to represent the business union concept. The business unions are related to the increased support of the free market systems. They maintain their efforts towards protecting the interests of workers as well as enhancing economic welfare. The laws and regulations in the U.S allow the unionized employers to negotiate with the unions on the hours, wages, and working conditions. However, this does not imply that the business unions do not involve the political systems. I think that the forms of unions are appropriate in understanding their success in the different countries. As a result, the different categories of unions influence their success in different countries. The politically focused unions have been more successful than the business unions in Canada and other developed countries.

Political Activities

The political activities also influence the success of the unions in the different countries. For instance, some countries have laws that support the formation of unions while other countries do not have any laws regarding the formation of unions. In 1932, “the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt who supports organized labor led to the formation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)” (Schindler & Aleksynska, 2011). The NLRA was enforceable by the government agencies facilitating the success and development of unions in the late 1930s. The changing nature of global economy has led to different successes of union in different countries. For example, in the last 20 years, “firms in developed countries, such as the United States have strong competition from foreign companies in countries, such as China” (Howell, 2011). The competition has affected sectors that were unionized like steel and textiles. With increased global competition, the resistance of employees to register into unions has increased. In addition, many firms have chosen to transfer their production systems into regions with low support for unions as well as countries with low wage demands and few unions.

Dynamic Nature of Labor Force

Moreover, the changing nature of labor force has also led to the differences in the success of unions in some countries than others. In the late 1930s, the unions represented unskilled workers who formed the large portion of the workers in different countries. Today, the white-collar workers form the main component of the labor force. In comparison with the unskilled workers, the white-collar workers are difficult to organize. In addition, there is a lot of competition in the employment sector, and thus the employees would rather opt out of the unions to attract employment (Prevost et al., 2012). This can be evident from the facts that many countries in Africa have organized unions than developed countries, such the United States. Thus, in countries with a large portion of the white collar jobs, the unions do not fare well compared with countries with large proportion of blue-collar jobs in its overall labor force.

In the United States, some of the large unions including “the American Federation of Labor and the congress of industrial organizations are national groups associated with support the electoral activities among the different governments” (Schindler & Aleksynska, 2011). Most unions have been successful by involving the political activities and associated efforts. The political motivation promotes the achievement of economic goals and objectives among the unions. Thus, the successful unions in developed countries are usually reformist in nature. For instance, unions came to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “The labor unions were against the implications of the agreement in reducing the number of jobs as well as weakening of the negotiable contracts with employers” (Perelli-Harris et al., 2012). Most of the American unions were aligned to the democratic parties, but they were not actively involved in the political activities.

Economic Issues

The complexity of labor unions varies due to the economic concerns. The nature of the economic objectives and goals of the unions affects the success and ability of the unions to represent the workers. However, the impacts of the industrial unions are strong among the different countries. The representation of the unions of workers from the different sectors develops a strong force in advocating for the rights of all workers. In the last 30 years, the union of workers was organized for a specific group of similar industries (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2011). However, there are has a diversity on the nature and role of the unions. Most important, the general unions are another form of unions that affects the success f the unions in the different countries. The general unions are highly diversified occurring mostly in Canada and in Japan. The general unions are more successful than unions in American and other countries. The general unions organize employees from the different industries and occupations enhancing increased diversification for the union activities.

The different in the success of unions in different countries can be caused by the differences in economic growth and performance. In America, “the union membership has declined compared to the membership of unions in industrialized countries including Japan and Scandinavia” (Schindler & Aleksynska, 2011). Even though unions in United States existed 200 years ago, they only present 10 percent of the total workers in the economy. The reduction in the membership unions occurred after the great depression that related to the declination in the business cycles. In 1930s, the economy of America had shifted from being agricultural to becoming an industrial economy. Most of the industrial workers were located in the in the urban centers creating a common culture. In the 1935 to 1950s, the economy of America was fairing on well with improved and stable economy growth. This led to the increased rate of unionization from 12 per cent to 35 per cent. After unprecedented economic declination, it has led to the reduction in the numbers of employees enrolled in the unions. The depression caused a difficult situation for most businesses in the economy.

The Single Mindedness Theory

One of the influential theories of labor force is “the Single Mindedness Theory”. The theory of the single mindedness has been applied in the labor markets in different countries. It assumed that the ability of social unit to be focused on a single concerns than many people. Thus, it implied that the unions were formed by persons with common goals and objectives to maximize their labor requirements. It also provides that are two groups of workers in the society including the young and the old. However, political competition affects the operation of the workers. The political competition was aimed at improving and maximizing the advocacy for improved political success and performance (Perelli-Harris et al., 2012). According to the theory of single mindedness, the unions would exist in the economy of old workers to promote the achievement of favorable taxation and transfers systems. According to Perelli-Harris et al. (2012), the theory also implies that the nature of government expenditure of social security would explain the decline of unionization in most countries. Recently, the funds being allocated to social services are inadequate to support the operations of the unions and the retirement schemes.

The theory of single mindedness was almost formalized, but it lacked empirical evidence. The theory has also suggested that the differences in labor productivity affect the formation of the unions. The decline of labor productivity can be associated with political activities that reduce the motivation of workers joining labor unions. The theory also considers the maximization of a social utility function by selecting the optimal tax rate on labor. Other famous scholars including the Leviathan model have examined how the size of public sector affects the union memberships. All the theories appreciate the impacts of political interventions in the success of the various unions in different countries (Schindler & Aleksynska, 2011). Finally, the personal ideologies bias for the various political activities generates different in the various groups. The personal ideologies have caused the divisions of workers even from common industries affecting the formation of unions. Therefore, the single mindedness theory of labor unions explains the nature of payment and corresponding leisure levels that promotes performance of the labor force.

Governmental Influence

Apart from the theory of labor unions, the role of government has played a crucial role in changing the success of unions in the different countries. For instance, in America, the amendments made to the NLRA expanded the rights of the employers as well as limiting the rights of the unions. The support of Roosevelt on employee rights was changed in 1980s by the ruling of Bush and other presidencies that did not support the labor unions. In addition, the management of various organizations opposed the formation of unions strongly in the late 1908s. Moreover, there were many unionized employees creating a mature competition in employee representation. The situation of bargaining for the right unions caused a difficult of selecting the most suitable unions. “The formation of the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was helpful in supporting confronting the unions overruling the NLRA. Thus, the unions lost sufficient grounds to establish their labor negotiations” (Schindler & Aleksynska, 2011). In transforming the purpose of unions, there is sufficient evidence that the government agencies have took part in the decline of unions. Over the last 20 years, the unions were strong in construction, manufacturing and other sectors. However, the four sectors have faces fierce foreign competition and technological changing weakening the ability of the workers to form union.

Most important, the success of unions in some countries and not others can be caused by the complexity and changes in the internal structure and administrative processes. These include the local unions and international unions. Countries where the unions are formed from the local workers have been very successful. The local union negotiates for the rights of the domestic workers in the society. The jurisdiction of the local unions may depend on the size of the organizations based on the parent company. However, the success of national and international unions is much higher than that of the local unions. The national and international unions usually represent workers from a wider area and from different professions. However, the nature of the national differs in complexity. Due to the decision-making process and size of the unions, the national unions have conducted research on how to promote the success of the unions in the economy. As a result, the success of unions depends on nature of complexity and changes in the internal structure and administrative procedures and processes.

In addition, the presence of strong federations of the labor union also determines the success of the unions in the different countries. The federal usually consists of a representation of close to 10 million workers in the different countries. They comprise around 50 independent local unions. “The federations are important in advocating for the rights of the labor unions in the political arena as well as providing adequate financial resources in electoral campaigns” (Perelli-Harris et al., 2012). Most countries are affiliated to strong federation, including AFL-CIO, which affects the success of the labor unions. Nevertheless, the influence of the federation had declined over the years due to the presence of inefficient labor policies and regulations in the federations. Thus, the countries with reformed federation regulations and processes enjoy   improved unionization of workers.


In summary, the success of unions in some countries has been better than in other countries. Some of issues that cause the differences in the success of unions in the different countries include categorization of the unions, which can be used to explain the strengths of unions. The categories of unions include the ideology and organizational forms of unions. Second, the nature of political activities also influences the success of the unions in the different countries. The changes in nature of labor force have also led to the differences in the success of unions in some countries than others. The single mindedness theory of labor unions explains the nature of wage rates indicating the differences in the formation of the unions. The government has played a crucial role in changing the success of unions in the different countries. I believe that workers should organize unions with common objectives and agendas to maximize the success of the unions. For union revitalization, union membership should be committed and focused to the union activities and programs. Active participation is appropriate in supporting the transformation of unions. In future, I think the unions should work closely with the government entities, since it helps to promote success of the unions. In addition, the unions should understand the nature of legal frameworks for union revitalization in the different countries.












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