Has the Development of Human Resource Management Practices Replaced the Need for Trade Unions? Discuss.

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Trade unions have been a central part of the Australian workplace. The workplace however has changed over the past two decades and it is possible that the role of trade unions within the workplace has been replaced by the introduction of Human Resource Management (HRM) practices. As stated by Leigh, 2005 “from 1914 until 1980, at least two in five workers were members of a union” and unionism was therefore for the most part the dominant approach, in terms of employment relations. However current membership is at around 20 per cent and coinciding with this decline in trade union membership is the increase in the step away from collectivism to individualism and the use of strategic HRM practices in response to the shift from a…show more content…
In other words, recognising ‘human resources’ as assets as they strive for effective organisational performance. HRM is essentially an approach rooted in the concept of individualism whereby “employers deal with workers individually and or individual employees prefer to look after their own interests rather than relying on third parties” (Balnave et al, 2009). HRM emerged in Australia during the 1980’s, with both the hard and soft approach being applied to the Australian workforce. Both focus on corporate performance, with the hard approach viewing employees as a commodity and emphasising “job standarisation, employee measurement and organisational values and priorities” (Balnave et al, 2009). The soft approach however has a “humanistic” view that emphasises employee empowerment as they work towards meeting organisational and personal objectives. With this in mind, the practices employed by the HRM approach have been “identified as crucial in developing sustainable competitive advantage for organisations. They include; selectivity in recruiting, equal employment opportunity, training and development, strategic rewards systems/pay for performance and dismissal” (Flanagan and Deshpande, 1996). The strategic approach to recruitment and selection ensures that a great emphasis is placed on employee potential and personal characteristics with staffing linked to organisation’s objectives and
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