A Comparative Analysis of Western & Islamic Model of Industrial Relations

By Siddiqui, Fasihul Karim | Economic Review, May 1993 | Go to article overview

A Comparative Analysis of Western & Islamic Model of Industrial Relations


Siddiqui, Fasihul Karim, Economic Review


Pakistan is one of those few countries of the post industrial revolution era which in a short span of four and a half decades has experimented four labour policies one after another introduced by successive governments from the period between 1954 and 1972. Each of these labour policies claimed to provide an industrial relations structure which was most responsive to the country's social and economic needs according to the socio economic and political planners of the government in power. None of them could receives universal acceptance in the Pakistani context because they were mostly based on the western model and could not be associated in the Islamic character of our society.

In order to understood the situation better, let us first have a comparative analysis of the Western and Islamic model of industrial relations and then examine as to which of the two models possess in it the potential to face the socio economic challenges of the century ahead of us. The western model of industrial relations is based on the following premises:-

i) The relationship between employers and workers was one of exploitation of many at the hands of a few.

ii) The rights of workers need to be defined, guaranteed and protected by legislative measures so that the chances of their exploitation may be minimised.

iii) The "wages determination" was the main cause of dispute between labour and capital.

iv) That wages of workers must be determined justly and equitably and if necessary, state or government must interfere to provide just and equitable wages for work done.

v) The workers and employers have conflicting interests and therefore to safeguard the rights and interests of the workers they should have the right to collectively organise themselves by forming trade unions and should have the right to collective bargaining with their employers. Similar rights be given to employers. To help workers and employers bargain effectively, the right to strike be given to the workers and the right of lockout to the employers. The right of strike and lockout was therefore, the tool in the hands of the workers and employers respectively, which could bring a balance in their relationship.

vi) The bipartite and tripartite institutions at the enterprise level could be promoted to achieve "harmony and understanding" among the workers and the employers.

vii) The rights of workers welfare include progressive increase in wages, reduction in working hours, softening the conditions of work, restrictions on labour from children and women, taking care of workers children after their death, improvement in the working and living environment, social security schemes, compensation for injuries etc.

viii) The government may intervene as conciliator between the workers and employers and determine their respective rights and obligations.

The rights given to workers under the western model of Industrial Relations are quite comprehensive but the fact remains that they have not been able to give satisfactory results precisely because of the following reasons:-

a) The struggle between aspirations and achievement circles round material satisfaction which gives rise to capitalistic mentality in which concessions given to workers are not based on a sincere desire to bring improvement in the quality of life but is instead the result of group pressure or selfish expediencies.

b) Unfettered right of private ownership and free market economy has helped confinement of national wealth in a few hands which inturn accentuates unrestricted profiteering. Those owning more resources of employment attain more control on means of employment and those who are deprived of resources become more and more deprived. This generates unemployment on a mass scale.

c) Since concession of benefits given to workers in the western model of industrial relations is based on expediencies and lacks voluntarism on the part of the employers, there is a lack of confidence and trust among industrial partners and they are always on the lookout for getting back at each other.

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