A State within a State: Industrial Relations in Israel, 1965-1987

By Ran Chermesh | Go to book overview

8
Strikes: The Issue of Social Responsibility

Introduction

. . .unions and management failed in one aspect of their relations to measure up to the social responsibility created by public expectations. That exception was the strike relationship. ( Chamberlain and Schilling, 1954, p. VII.)

The rules for calling a strike demonstrate the seriousness of taking that step. ( Schneider, 1969, p. 322.)

The relationships between strikes and social responsibility have been examined from a number of different perspectives. In the context of industrial relations, social responsibility can be understood as the sensitivity of unions1 and management to the potential negative implications of their actions on all other parties. Chamberlain ( 1953) studied this issue from the point of view of public opinion and reached the critical conclusion presented above. He continued to investigate this point with the aim of

ascertaining the differing pattern of strike effects in the various industries of the American economy and for building a body of knowledge directly pertinent to the problem of public policy concerning strikes. ( 1954, p. VII)

This time the interpretations were more complicated. Not all strikes are alike in terms of damage. According to Chamberlain and Schilling, damage may be incurred in varying degrees to non-party members, consumers, producers, and suppliers, whether in direct or indirect relationship with the struck unit. Thus, the calculus of strike damage is very complicated, and the most evident way of minimizing harm is located at the source, i.e., in the activities and responses of unions and management.

The most important feature of union-management relationships is their mutual interdependence. Each side is tied to the other, even if only for the purposes of furthering its own interests. In the framework of collective agreements, management is dependent upon its workers' representation in hiring and firing, conditions of work and terms of employment.

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