Industrial Relations Journal

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  • Workplace universalism and the integration of migrant workers and refugees in Germany

    This article looks into differences and similarities between former labour migrants' and today's refugees' workplace integration and asks what role German industrial relations play in integration processes. Drawing on more than 150 interviews, document analysis and three employee attitude surveys, conducted in the course of three research projects, a crucial finding is that despite some differences between labour migrants and refugees in terms of labour market access, education and support programmes, in both cases, workplace integration often works better than integration in German society in general. The integration of both groups is fostered by ‘pragmatic cooperation’ of workers, which is based on everyday encounters and promotes collegiality, and by universal rules for all workers, including the active and passive right to elect works councils. German industrial relations provide the institutional frame for this ‘workplace universalism’. However, workplace integration is under pressure due to polarized societal discourses and eroding industrial relations.

  • Exploring the gender difference in multiple job holding

    This article examines the determinants of the gender gap in multiple job holding in Australia using all 18 waves (2001–2018) of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. In Australia, like most high‐income countries, the multiple job holding rate is higher for women compared with men. The empirical analysis focuses on the role played by factors such as wage rates, hours worked, household wealth, job security, education, demographics and demand conditions. Probit regressions point to a large, negative and highly statistically significant effect of hours worked in the primary job on the probability of holding a secondary job. This effect is larger (more negative) for women. A decomposition analysis suggests that a large share of gender gap in multiple job holding (c. 90 per cent) may be attributed to the gender gap in the hours worked in the primary job. Regulation concerning working time can be expected to affect multiple job holding rates.

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  • Pay progression in routinised service sector work: navigating the internal labour market in a fast food multinational company

    The United Kingdom's widespread use of low‐skill, low‐paid employment has been well documented. It has been argued internal labour markets (ILMs) benefit such workers, affording them with opportunities for progression. Relatively little is known, however, about the impact of ILMs on entry level workers undertaking routinised service sector work. Drawing on qualitative data, this article explores the prospects on offer in a market leading, fast food multinational company. Potential enabling features include on‐the‐job training, a transparent and integrated pay structure and a professed culture of progression. Occupational movements to positions above the low‐pay threshold are, however, relatively rare. We conjecture this contradiction is the result of the business context in which the firm operates. The findings suggest that in sectors where price leadership strategies dominate, escape from low pay is likely to be exceptional, even within large organisations featuring some of the classic characteristics of ‘pure’ or strong ILMs.

  • Exploring the fluid boundary between ‘legitimate performance management’ and ‘downward bullying’: an experimental approach

    Using an experimental design, this research examines the extent to which managers and employees perceive management behaviours differently. Eight simulated employment scenarios were presented to an aggregated sample of managers and non‐managerial employees (n = 435), and the respondents were asked to evaluate the extent to which the behaviours depicted are seen as bullying. It was found that employees are more likely than managers to perceive ‘legitimate performance management’ as bullying but also that managers are more likely than employees to perceive more overt bullying as bullying per se. This divergence in perceptions suggests that what constitutes bullying, ontologically speaking, depends on one's point of view and implies that reality is socially constructed. The research has important implications for organisations and trade unions in the development of bullying policies and procedures.

  • Union suppression and union substitution strategies of multinational enterprises in Ghana

    This article complements the literature by furthering the understanding of an ‘African dimension’ of multinational enterprise (MNE) union avoidance. The evidence suggests that MNEs engaged in both union suppression and union substitution strategies by (i) exploiting young employees' apathy to promote opposition and indifference for union organisation (evil stuff), (ii) implementing union member‐centred employee retrenchment (fear stuff), (iii) using enterprise‐level collective bargaining arrangement to suppress union bargaining power (fear and fatal stuff), (iv) exploiting the fragmented labour union environment to suppress union organisation (fatal and evil stuff) and (v) promoting individual employee voice and involvement mechanisms (sweet stuff). Although MNEs in Ghana engaged in both union suppression and union substitution strategies, they appear to particularly favour the adoption of ‘union suppression’ strategies and what might be termed as ‘corridor tactics’. Our article highlights four transitional issues underpinning the emerging success of ‘corridor tactics’ in union suppression in a less developed host country.

  • Strategic imperatives, power and subsidiary performance: the transfer of human resource management practices in multinational companies operating in Poland's post‐socialist banking industry

    We examine the extent to which institutional influences account for the transfer of performance management systems in two foreign‐owned banks, one German the other Irish, in Poland. While we find they were important, more important were the joint effects arising from the subsidiaries' times‐of‐acquisition, their pre‐acquisition economic health, the international experience of the MNCs' management, headquarters‐generated strategic imperatives and the political dynamics that ensued between corporate and local management.

  • The British Home Stores pension scheme: privatised looting?

    On entering administration, British Home Stores owed its pension scheme £571 million—a significant employment relations issue of historical wage theft by investor–owner managers. The article locates ‘lawful’ looting of business assets in a framework that builds on Ackerlof and Romer's theory of bankruptcy for profit and connects this to an empirical narrative on business re‐structuring at British Home Stores towards administration.

  • Representing workers on occupational safety and health: some lessons from a largely ignored history

    The decade from 1970 witnessed major reforms of occupational health and safety (OSH) laws in Western Europe, North America and Australasia. The establishment of worker representation in OSH was one of their most significant features. Largely overlooked in commentary then or since however was the fact that worker representation in safety had a far longer history, having operated in coal mining from a century earlier in some countries. The purpose of this paper is not so much to fill this historical gap as to examine this earlier development in terms of its contribution to better understand worker representation in OSH at the present time.

  • Justice obtained? How disabled claimants fare at Employment Tribunals

    This article explores disability discrimination cases at British Employment Tribunals. Analysing over 750 judgments, it examines the characteristics of claimants and the factors associated with the failure of cases: restrictive judicial decisions, complex legal tests, inequality of arms between claimant and employer and the stigma attached to claimants with mental impairments, providing some evidence for a hierarchy of impairments.

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