Globalization and Labor-Management Relations: Dynamics of Change

Article excerpt

Globalization and Labor-Management Relations: Dynamics of Change By C S Venkata Ratnam Response Books, New Delhi, 2001; Pages: 342; Price: Rs. 295; ISBN: 8170369657.

Yet another valuable book from the passionate observer of the Labor Movement across the globe. The book vividly reveals the style of Venkat Ratnam, characterized by presentation of detailed facts, incisive analysis and a convincing forecast. Each chapter contains detailed facts about the subject, and the facts encompass not merely one country, but the range of countries across South and South-East Asia. This is followed by the thread'bare analysis of these facts and their repercussions on the current and future scenario of the labor movement, and certain conclusions which can be the guide for further action by the concerned in these countries. The material is presented in such a manner that each chapter can by itself become the subject matter of a book. Therefore a chapter-wise review is presented here to bring out the true worth of this valuable book.

The book starts with a preface by the author which describes the evolution of the Indian labor movement and brings out the imbalances in the Indian approach. The conclusion is that overactivity in regulation and controls and underactivity in economic and social development has prevented India from realizing its true potential.

Chapter 1 provides an historical analysis of industrial relations in India. It starts with a brief overview of the economy and covers labor market context of adjustment, and the historical evolution covering the period from the colonial to the postcolonial times. It brings out the weak tripod in the industrial relations system of India. The author suggests new trends in industrial relations in which 6 scenarios are described. The first scenario is characterized by helplessness caused by tensions/conflict in human relations/industrial relations. The sixth scenario includes high-tech, service and information. Industries with non-traditional work places, work patterns and employment contracts with a young, diversified, ambitious and non-union work force with a different set of aspirations. Tables with comprehensive year-wise data on industrial disputes, disinvestments in Public sector Undertakings (PSUs), membership of federation of trade unions, etc., are included. Thought provoking issues are raised as part of the conclusions and implications for policy.

Chapter 2 describes labor-management relations and the world in transition. Interesting contemporary topics such as the changing geopolitical map, convergence of mixed economies, new HR policies, emerging trends, etc., are discussed in detail. The author concludes the chapter by stating that the diversity in industrial relations is increasing, the adjustment pressures will continue and observes that new systems of social security nets which provide income security without job security are evolving. New technologies and changing work place and worker demographics are bringing about a transformation in workplace governance with greater say and stake for employees, customers, as well as the country.

Chapter 3 deals with the economic development and industrial relations, the case of South and South-East Asia. This chapter is co-authored by S Kuruvill of Cornell University and was presented at the Tenth World Congress of IR at Washington DC. The author brings out two distinct industrialization strategies followed by these countries. The successful economies followed the outward looking Export-Oriented Industrialization (EOI) strategy and others have followed the inward looking Import-Substitution Industrialization (ISI) strategy. The implications of these two strategies on IR policies and Work Place IR/HR practices are discussed in detail in this chapter. In EOI the primary focus is on cost containment and whereas in ISI the focus is on development of highly skilled and flexible, yet productive labor. In the ISI sector, the firms follow more 'passive' HR practices while in the EOI sector they follow diverse, aggressive and flexible IR/HR practices. …