Analysing the Relationship between Unions and Joint Consultation Committee: Case Studies of Malaysian and Indonesian Postal Industries

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ABSTRACT

There has been a considerable degree of interest in the notion of joint consultation committee (JCC). In this paper, we examine process of JCC in Malaysian and Indonesian postal industries. The research focused on the implementation of JCC as a form of employee participation, followed by an evaluation of the model that best explained the practices in the postal industries. Both analysis were based on the work of Marchington (1992; 1994). Research findings indicate the adjunct model best explains the practices of JCC, whereas both JCC and collective bargaining (CB) have an integrative relationship for the beneficial of management and employees.

Keywords: Employee Participation, Joint consultation committee, postal industry, industrial relations, Malaysia and Indonesia

I. INTRODUCTION

Employee participation (EP) is an important area of research in the industrial relations field (Parasuraman 2007; Harley, Hyman, and Thompson, 2005; Heller, Pusic, Strauss, and Wilpert, 1998; Markey, Gollan, Hodgkinson, Chouragui, and Veersma, 2001). The literature discusses two different forms of EP: direct and indirect participation. Strauss (1998) argues the effectiveness of direct participation will be restricted if it is not combined with indirect participation. The arguments supporting indirect participation are significant because many high level decisions affect the people in the organisation, and vice versa. This is because the strategic direction of the company is usually a determinant of the workers actions and beliefs (Wilpert, 1998). Therefore, high level company decisions should be made in consultation with a participative body of employees. Many European countries, for instance the Netherlands, have enacted legislation to support indirect participation through work councils (Goodijk and Veersma, 2001; Parasuraman, 2003; Parasuraman 2006a). Worker representation is a large issue in Europe where National Works Council Legislation has a big influence on business (Blyton and Turnbull, 2004; Markey & Monat, 1997). They are constructed based on strong union solidarity and participation among their members (Gahan and Bell, 1999; Heery, 2002).

Across the diverse contexts of Europe, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, different forms of indirect participation have been practiced. In most English speaking countries, indirect participation has been in the form of joint consultative committees (JCC), Collective Bargaining (CB) machinery, worker-director schemes, occupational health and safety. In Western Europe and in most Scandinavian countries, works councils and codetermination have been important mechanisms for indirect participation.

While the developed world is working to achieve a balance for effective worker participation, the utilisation of effective schemes in developing countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, is far behind. The research, from which this paper forms part, will be our pioneer work on the practices of JCCs at the firm level in Malaysia and Indonesia. In relation to this aspect, two basic questions arise: (i) how does one company manage its JCC; an example from the postal industry in Malaysia and Indonesia is examined, and (ii) to what extent is Marchington's models on JCC (1992; 1994) applicable in these cases?

This aim of this paper is to demonstrate the actual practice of a JCC in postal industry in Malaysia and Indonesia. The paper will begin with a brief overview of JCC's and a discussion of the relevant literature. Secondly, the paper will discuss the main components of JCC. Finally, the paper will utilise the model of JCC, which is proposed by Marchington (1992; 1994) in order to examine the actual practice of JCC in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Brief Review on JCC

Marchington et al. (1992:1) define a JCC as "A mechanism for managers and employee representatives to meet on a regular basis, in order to exchange views, to utilise members' knowledge and expertise, and to deal with matters of common interest which are not the subject of Collective Bargaining". …

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