Can anyone help me "How to handle / deal with Unions"?
From India, Hyderabad

You are asking the question "How to handle / deal with Unions", as though they are aliens or inanimate things!!!!. Unions comprise individuals and they should be treated as human beings, first and foremost. The Unions are a reality and has to be recognised and dealt so. The whole issue of relations with unions is the core activity of IR and the whole gamut of it cannot be limited to a few lines. It appears you are a beginner in IR and feels befuddled on the prospects of dealing/handling a group of volatile union leaders; Listen to them fully, try to understand the issue assess its potential, look for alternative solutions, plan ahead how are you going to deal with the matter, keep up the morale of your team etc. Pl come back with specific details on the situation, in case any further help is needed.
From India, Mumbai
Dear Durga Prasad, Can you please elaborate your query.

Dear Sirs
I have been facing this question in interviews.
Although I have replied to this question as mentioned below, i couldn't get success in interviews.
We have a trade union which are registered under Trade Unions Act'1926 independently and they got certificate in Form-D from Registrar.
Our union is independent union and not influenced by any central trade Unions and any local political parties. Our union is very cooperative with the Management.
As far as IR concerned,
- we are having certified standing orders which are certified by Certifying Officer to regulate the conditions of the employment.
- We have Works Committee which consists equal members from Management & Workmen Representatives under Sec.3 of ID Act'1947 to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations.
- We are having Tri-partiate Settlement i.e Memorandum of Settlement (Form-H) under Sec.12(3) of the ID Act'1947 before the Conciliation Officer for a period of 3 years.
- We are taking disciplinary actions in accordance with the standing orders to regulate the working conditions.
- We are maintaining harmonious relations with Employees by providing better working conditions, satisfactory working hours, rest intervals, satisfactory wages, etc,.
- We are providing fringe benefits in Welfare for our Employees such as Intramural & Extramural Welfare amenities (Industrial Canteen, Subsidized Food, Rent Free Accommodation, Rent Free Housing, Local Conveyance/Transportation,Education to the Employees Children, Yearly Gifts, Bonus, LTA, Medical Benefits, Insurance Policies, Occupational Health Centres etc,.)
Apart from the above I have explained the definitions about IR, Grievance, Industrial Dispute, Procedure for Certification of Standing Orders, Works Committee, Factories Act'1948, ID Act'1947, Industrial Employment and Standing Orders Act'1946, Trade Unions Act'1926, Subsistence Allowance (10A), Notice of Change(9A) and so many.
I want to become an IR Professional as I am very much interested to act as IR Officer.
Can anyone help me that how do I have to explain about IR in the interviews.
With regards

From India, Hyderabad
Dear Durga Prasad,
Success in any interview for a job like that of one which handles industrial relations does not depend upon the correctness of the answers of the candidate alone. You should understand that the interview panel consists of experts with experience and the purpose of their questions is not to test your mere academic knowledge but to ascertain your alertness to conflict situations, spontaneity of your positive response and how crisply you express it. Despite the compliances by the employer as you narrated, why still industrial disputes are raised by the unions? If you are paying minimum wages, union will demand fair wages and if you pay fair wages, there will be a demand for living wages. So is the case with every concession. It is because that employees would expect more and more from the employer and the survival of any trade union depends on its ability to bargain for more only. There can not be any ideal industrial relations situation without friction for friction is the inevitable reality of any relationship and relationship is neither independence nor dependence but inter dependence only. If every person handling industrial relations is successful in convincing the union about the importance of the inter-dependence between the employer and the employees, friction would be there within the manageable limits so as to ensure forward motion in tandem.

From India, Salem

IR is the most dynamic part of HRM and put simply, it is managing the enduring human relations at the work place in organisational interest. You may perhaps be a first level executive in HR, so may not be privy to the real IR strategies and tactics deployed. But keep a constant eye on what is happening and try to correlate the larger picture. One thing to be noted in IR is the continuity, the past-present-future continuum. What is happening today at your workplace has a past which lies submerged and it surely would lead to certain results and the cycle keeps on repeating. So keep looking for the past events, factors and processes which led to the present situation and procrastinate on what is going to happen. Soon you will understand the pattern that lies submerged in the web of human relationship and how the two set parties react to each other. You will be able to make certain anticipations and guesses on the way the other paryt will react to certain stimuli and suit your behaviour accordingly. There is no one correct answer in IR, different people have different methods but the real test after all is, has it served the organisational purpose. To that end all the creative energies of an IR man has to be directed.
From India, Mumbai
Dear colleague,
IR professional is always in the midst of resolving conflicting situations, settling differences and finding amicable solutions to the demands/ issues raised by the workers/union.
He needs to possess strong sensitivity for human feelings, listening skills and persuasive abilities.
With solid basic groundings in human behavior analysis , labour laws and amiable disposition, will lead IR person to be successful on the job.
Vinayak Nagarkar

From India, Mumbai
When people want to avoid IR, you want to embrace it. It is appreciated. The learned seniors made you understand the nature, character and scope of IR.If you go through those replies, you would definitely not miss certain key words embedded in those lines like "sensitivity to human feelings" past-present-future continuum" enduring human relations" and "alertness to conflict situations" etc. All these key words imply certain skills as follows:
1)Active listening
2)Balancing emotions (EI)( not to loose cool)
3)Analytical skills
4)Tactful communication
5)Anticipating a problem the genesis of which may be in the past.
This is not the reply to the query that was asked in your interview but an attempt to make you understand that these skills are necessary to deal with the unions.
HR & Labour Relations Adviser
Navi Mumbai

From India, Mumbai
I have handled CITU union for almost 8 years. My experience says, treat them fairly and you will never have any serious issues with the union. The union leaders can be used to convey the messages to workers. It is easy to convince 10 individuals than convincing 1000 individuals. There are trainings conducted by many training institutions, which will help you to understand how to manage unions/union leaders. But only experience will teach you how to handle the union leaders. The one thing which is most important, is to be a good communicator.
From India, Chennai

As HR person maintain open and harmonious relations with employees and unions.
When unions approach, give them a friendly and open hearing.
Ability to be patient and kind is important.
Have facts/legal position of any labour issue on your finger tips.
Maintain an informal relationship with the union people during your normal discharge of duties.
Know who is who and who is the influencer and who is the trouble creator.
Good tactics will help but one must be genuine in approach to solve problems.
I deal with unions regularly and generally notice that they can be handled well if you speak cogently w/o hiding facts.
Handling unions needs psychological approach coupled with good intent.

From India, Pune

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