Glossary: Industrial/employee relations

Glossary of key terms: Unit 2.6 Industrial / employee relations (HL Only)


This is an extension of conciliation, but involves using an independent arbitrator who decides on the most appropriate outcome after considering the demands of both parties in the conflict situation.

Change management

Refers to processes and techniques used to plan, implement and evaluate changes in business operations.


This occurs when employers temporarily shuts the business in response to extreme industrial action of its employee (such as strike action).

Collective bargaining

The process of negotiation of working conditions and pay between employer and employees, or their representatives (such as a trade union and a senior management team).


This is the process of using a mediator to help facilitate negotiations during the conflict resolution process.


This is a situation of friction or mutually exclusive goals between two or more parties, because the needs and interests of workers are ignored or because the organization cannot meet the needs of all its stakeholders at the same time.

Employee participation

This means that workers are given responsibilities and autonomy to do their jobs.

Employee representatives

The individuals or groups of individuals who are elected to act on behalf of their worker members. For example, trade unions represent their members in the negotiation process with employer representatives.

Employer representatives

Refers to a group of individuals or members of an organization that represent the interests of the business in the collective bargaining process.

Industrial democracy

This refers to the involvement of employees in the decision-making process, as their views are important in considering the strategic direction of the organization.


This occurs when, during an industrial dispute, employers shut out their employees. Locks may be changed and/or added security is used to prevent employees from entering the workplace.

No-strike agreement

This is a promise from the employee representatives that its members will use resort to strike action as a method of industrial action.

Overtime ban

This form of industrial action involves the directive from employee representatives to their members to refuse working beyond their contracted hours.


Also known as layoffs, this form of action taken by employers involved cutting back on its staffing, as certain job roles are no longer required


This occurs when employees place their own interests above those of the organization.

Single-union agreement

The arrangement whereby the employer’s representative conducts negotiations with one main trade union, rather than several subordinate ones.


Also known as a go-slow, this occurs when employees deliberately work at the slowest pace allowable, in order to minimise efficiency and productivity.

Strike action

This extreme form of industrial involves an outright refusal by employees to work, for a certain time period, thereby preventing the organization from continuing to operate. The aim is to pressure the employer to meet the workers’ demands.

Trade union

Also known as a labour union, this form of employee representative is set up to serve and protect the interests of its worker members. Its primary role is to uphold and improve the welfare of its members.


The form of industrial action involves all employees being instructed by their representatives to follow all the rules, regulations and policies of the organization, word for word.

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