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Industrial relations, also known as employment relations, relates to the relationships between employers, employees, employee representatives, such as unions and government bodies and lawmakers. Good industrial relations are essential in achieving a motivated and productive workforce. As with many employment-related practices, conditions can often improve if companies adopt best practice industrial relations guidelines to work by. The Association of South East Asian Nations Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC) has developed industrial relations guidelines that are "consistent with internationally-recognized principles, obligations and standards."
According to ASETUC, good industrial relations must be based on a solid legal framework that account for economic and social conditions and allow the employer to build and grow his business while providing employees with equitable and safe working conditions, stable employment and minimum standards. The framework must also allow employees to voice their opinions and be a part of business decision-making processes.
The rights of employees to self-organize their labor union activities must be respected and protected. Employers should regularly consult with union representatives and employees to encourage collective-bargaining and provide employees with a platform to voice opinions. These meetings may also be an opportunity for employees to suggest more efficient work practices that could improve productivity and increase profits. Employers must also be respected and accorded the right to manage their business in a manner that is fiscally sound.
Industrial relations will also improve if common employer/employee interests such as productivity, profit sharing, disciplinary procedures and termination, conditions of service and grievance handling can be handled with procedures developed by collaboration and cooperation of both employer and employees.
Employer and employee must work to build mutual trust and respect. Employees feel respected and productivity will be at its best when there is transparency and general consensus on the common issues of the workplace. Exercises to improve trust and respect, including team building social activities for all employees, will help them feel invested in their employer. Employers and employees must work together and deal with each other honestly and with integrity.
A good industrial relations system must encompass effective labor dispute resolution. Employers and employees must be allowed the right to participate in good faith in dispute resolution processes to resolve grievances.
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Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.