1. Do Spotlight’s actions in offering the AWAs reflect a soft or hard approach to HRM?
According to the ASU (Australian Services Union), the individual agreements between the employer and the employee that determine the standard conditions, pay structure and awards for the employee are called as AWAs or Australian Workplace Agreements. It has been a general emotion (ASU, 2006) that AWAs rather undermine the workers’ right to collective bargaining. While in the past, the employee awards grants were safeguarded by the law; it was abolished later on and the employers got the right to cut any award whenever they wish to.
In line of this thought, it may be rightly established that Spotlight’s offering its employees with AWAs was rather a tilt towards a hard approach to HRM. Further clarifying the stand, hard HRM approach can be defined as an approach where the employees are rather considered as “Commodities” or resources rather than assets to be withheld (Anon., 2009 and Gill, 1999). Soft HRM approach, being just the opposite, reflects upon employees as the strong base and assets (Gabriel, 2008). The offering of AWAs where the employee take-home-pay is actually cut by 16% is a clear case of hard HRM approach.
2. Ways in which covert industrial conflict might have manifested itself at Spotlight.
3. How would this conflict be explained from a unitarist perspective?
A unitarist perspective involves creating of an environment where both the employers and employees strive for harmony, loyalty and improvement while following mutually conducive policies (Jarvis, 2003b). The conflict that be created due to the unfair AWAs offered by Spotlight to its employees could have been avoided had the Spotlight management taken a Unitarist view. Since it is the employers that have more power these days compared to old times when the employees were more powerful, it becomes the employers’ responsibility to take a unitarist view for the benefit of the firm as well as the employees (Rasmussen & Lamm, 2002).
4. How would this conflict be explained from a pluralist perspective?
A pluralist perspective can be defined where the trade unions are recognized and have the power to bargain with the employers to resolve the ensuing conflict (Anon., 2007). Under this approach, special measurements are put in place to resolve the conflict between the interest of the unions and the managers with respect to the distribution of profits (Jarvis, 2003a). In such a scenario, the dispute or conflict arising in the existing scenario could be solved if Spotlight had a special conflict resolution and HR management cell. Through discussions, bargaining and safeguard agreements, the conflict could be settled without further confusion and ado.
5. Do you agree with Mr Andrew’s or Mr Beazley’s comments?
While Mr Andrew is of the view that AWAs are actually beneficial for the employees, Mr. Beazley thinks else wise. While much has been said about the unfair conditions mentioned within the AWAs, the fact is, getting rid of the awards for extra working hours and holidays for exchange of 2 cents is rather beneficial for the employees. Nevertheless, loss of the awards for extra working hours may actually encourage the employers to use the employees a tad too long oftener, making the entire deal an overall loss for the employees. Hence, even though I do agree with the benefits cited by Mr Andrew, one has to admit that in the hard HRM policy of Spotlight, exploitation of the employees in the wake of AWAs is an overwhelming possibility. Hence, my opinion is likely to bend towards that of Mr. Beazley, agreeing that the AWAs offered by Spotlight to its employees are rather unfair.
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