Question: aafm is a large foreignowned manufacturer of white goods with...
AAFM is a large foreign-owned manufacturer of white goods with a plant in southern suburbs. This plant, with a workforce of approximately 1500 employees was established in 1982 and has had a strong union presence from the very start. AAFM also established a plant in another city in 1995. Local AAFM management traditionally accepted a role for unions and worked with local manufacturing workers' union (AMWU) to identify and address employee grievances and sources of dissatisfaction. Between 1992 and 2013 management at southern suburbs plant successfully negotiated six enterprise agreements with the AMWU with little disharmony between the parties.
In February 2014 AAFM's parent undertook an efficiency review of operations at two different city's plants in response to an apparent drop in productivity. Within six months one of the city's plant was closed and 500 jobs were axed at the other city's plant. A new director and management team were also recruited for another city's plant. In contrast to previous management, the new team did not communicate with employees or the union about the issues of concern, but tightened management surveillance of workers to identify those not performing to standard. These workers were subsequently disciplined and threatened with dismissal if their performance did not improve. This depleted any sense of employment security among the surving AAFM workers. At the time of commencement of negotiations for a new enterprise agreement in March 2017, employee morale at AAFM was at an all-time low and levels of absenteeism and labour turnover were on the rise. The AMWU expressed concern at the unprecedented level of worker distrust of management. However, management saw this as a ploy to weaken AAFM's bargaining position and responded with the view that the union was only voicing the position of the disgruntled, recalcitrant minority of AAFM workers.
It did not take long for the relationship to break down around the bargaining table. In line with the industry standard, the union asked for a 4% wage increase along with changes to the rostering system, the length of shifts, and leave provisions - identified areas of dissatisfaction amongst the majority of AAFM workers. AAFM agreed to a 2% wage increase in return for a modification to redundancy provisions and the introduction of a formal performance management system. However, it refused to negotiate with the union on the other issues. AAFM threatened further redundancies and the ultimate closure of the city's plant if wages rose beyond 2% offered by the company. The parent company had already investigated shifting production to another country where labour costs were significantly better.
Due to AAFM's refusal to negotiate on issues of importance to the workers, the union took protected industrial action in the form of a six-hour stop-work meeting beginning at 4pm (to capture both day and night shift workers). Approximately 75% of the workforce walked off the job to the shock and dismay of management who did not expect majority support for industrial action among the workforce. The union threatened to call further industrial action in the form of full day strikes if the company continued to ignore the concern of workers and the right of the union to negotiate around such concerns. In response, AAFM launched a counter-attack by locking workers out for 3 hours immediately following the stop-work meeting. The company threatened to repeat this offensive by locking workers out following each form of industrial action taken by the union.
A) Prior to 2014, did local AAFM management adopt a unitarist or pluralist approach to empoyment relations? Does the new management team embrace the same ideology? (please explain)
B) identify the ways industrial conflict is being expressed at AAFM and the factors contributing to this conflict.
C) How would the industrial conflict at AAFM be explained and resolved from i) a unitarist perspective and ii) a pluralist perspective?
D) what are your suggestions for resolving the industrial conflict and helping parties to reach an agreement? For example, could they investigate another form of bargaining?