Causes of Industrial Conflict

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Definition and Causes of Industrial Conflict

Industrial conflict is the situation where disputes and disagreements arise between employees’ and employers over matters related to the working conditions. Conflict is endemic among human grouping because of the divergent interests which are usually diametrically opposed.While employers must maximise his profit by reducing to the minimun level the cost of production which is usually at the detriment of the employees, employees (usually represented by trade union)seek to secure a work condition of a bearable standard and better remuneration. In veiw of the above, conflict springs up. Industrial conflict(also refer to as trade union) therefore is defined as "any disagreement or dispute between workers and workers or between workers and employers regarding the condition of employments of workers and the general conditions relating to thier employment" Industrial conflict can be formal or informal.

Formal and Informal Conflict

While informal conflict in an industrial organisation is usually associated with low skilled and purely educated workmen and such conflicts are generally unorganised, exibited in individual actions such as absenteesm, sabotage, theft etc. Formal conflict on the other hand is associated with high skilled and well educated workers who are properly organised and such formal conflict is usually spearheaded by union leaders who are refered to as "aggitators".Example of organised/formal conflict is strike or withdrawal of service.


Wage demands

  • Usually occur when an agreement expires or esp. concerning overtime payments.
  • Many employees may believe they need to be paid more but the employer may not agree.
  • In times of inflationary pressures such as GST, rising oil n interest rates employees are likely to seek wage increases to maintain their standards of living.

Working conditions

  • Employees take action if there is a risk to either their or others at the workplace. OH&S act provides guidelines.
  • Common esp. where there are chances of damage to hearing, lungs or eyes.
  • Disputes can happen over staff facilities like kitchens, parking and the equipment used by workers

Management policies

  • These include concerns over leave entitlements such as sick leave, holiday leave, promotion and redundancy
  • Management may change policies without adequate consultation n this creates a change to custom and practice.
  • Globalisation has encouraged this conflict

Political and Social issues

- Involves wider issues (environmental and political) where employees take action to support a cause. - Employees are less likely to take strong action to support a cause given the reduced union power in the WRA.

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