The democratisation of industrial relations in the Czech Republic – work organisation and employee representation
Case studies from the electronics industry 1
Aleš Kroupa and Zdenka Mansfeldová
The organisation of work is influenced by the growing demands of the market (for quality and service, short delivery deadlines or flexibility), by technological development (automation and innovation), by changes in the composition of the workforce (including changes in lifestyle and domestic routines as well as increased educational levels) and by the democratisation of social relations. In reaction to such society-wide trends advocates of different theoretical approaches to enterprise management have suggested and implemented a range of innovations in the organisation of work over the past few decades. Typically this has involved providing scope for greater autonomy in the accomplishment of work tasks, integrating partial work tasks so that jobs are less monotonous and make use of the knowledge, abilities and qualifications of workers, and rotating workers between different posts. Work is often carried out in small teams, enabling individuals to assume greater authority as well as to gain experience of different types of work. This form of organisational structure is designed to simplify communication and facilitate better coordination of the work process. The expansion and overlapping of job descriptions is essential to effective team work, where workers must be able to stand in for one another. Such innovations place new demands on workers in terms of qualifications, authority relations, relationships with co-workers, responsibilities and working hours. Thus there is a need to ensure the training of workers to enable them to carry out a wider range of tasks. The classical hierarchical relationship between supervisors and supervised becomes a partnership based on the coordination of the work of subordinates, in which the role of team leader may be interchangeable according to who has the most experience of a particular aspect of the work process.