3.Part Three: The Representative System

Summary
- There'll always be two sides the workers and the bosses. There's a time and a place. Switch it on, Hamish.
- Mr. Black says senior staff are getting restive over holidays and pensions. Lack of a fully developed representative system means debates over differential conditions and wages between different sections and levels of staff can't happen. This leads to fragmented negotiations, leapfrogging claims and eventually real trouble.
- If representative boundaries cut across departmental boundaries, we're in a mess. A management must do what it can to help a representative system to work smoothly. Management is dependent on a smoothly working representative system for feedback of feeling and for negotiations.
- Negotiation will only take place at meetings between managers and representatives. Information which will affect the working conditions of large numbers of employees should be communicated by a manager personally to his extended command. I suggest we call the process of direct communication by managers contraction.
- The final point that should be made about representative systems. I'd regard any behavior of that kind as a bloody insult to shop stewards. With those simple rules enforce, there can't be negotiation.
- Next part four is on works councils. What would the EEC regulation? These films are based on the results of research carried out in the Glacier Metal Company Limited.

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Speaker A Good house tonight, hengs yes, well, this part concerns both management and representatives, so I thought we ought to have both sides present. Both sides? And you go around lecturing people ...

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Speaker A Good house tonight, hengs yes, well, this part concerns both management and representatives, so I thought we ought to have both sides present. Both sides? And you go around lecturing people not to talk about a slip of the tongue, mr. Rory. Slip it. Maybe, but he's right. There'll always be two sides the workers and the bosses. There's a time and a place. Switch it on, Hamish. Before we get started on politics, wherever an employment hierarchy exists, three other systems of roles interact with it. First, the shareholder system, represented by the board of directors. Secondly, the customers, a nonorganized amorphous group. Thirdly, the employees through the representative system. These three power groups interact with each other and with the employment hierarchy through the chief executive. I think everybody recognizes the existence of a shareholder system and a group of customers. But recognition of a representative system distinct from the employment hierarchy is much less common because it involves an appreciation of the fact that every employed person, apart from the chief executive, also occupies another role in either a formal or informal representative system. Each individual is either a constituent, perhaps an unwitting one, or a representative. Unless we realize the existence of these two quite different sets of roles, we won't recognize the existence of the representative system as a separate social system. This leads to the idea that every stratum of the hierarchy is either formally or informally. There's only r1 socialist system in the factory, and that's the union members, the rest of the staff, just abort management. And Mr. I have never met anyone who can turn a simple statement into terms of politics like you. That man didn't mention socialism. He said a social system, a separate system of roles. You're out of order, Wolf. Well, if every employee were a member of a union, then everybody could vote and everybody would be represented. Think of all the new members you might enroll. Good God. Can you see me as a shop steward representing the senior staff of the company? It's an interesting thought, but carry on. Hemis this leads to the idea that every stratum of the hierarchy is either formally or informally represented. Let us look at a five rank hierarchy composed of operators and office workers at rank one, then the first line of managers and specialists at rank two, and so on up to rank five, in this case, the chief executive. Note that ranks are not to be confused with grades. Grades are a convenient way of dividing up ranks into intermediary strata for the purpose of codifying differences in pay, pensions, and other entitlements. Each rank contains constituencies. These are usually organized on a formal basis at rank one. At higher ranks, both constituencies and representation are most often on an informal basis. In this model, rank one has eight constituencies each electing a representative. Rank two has four constituencies and four representatives. Three constituencies and representatives for rank three and two and two for rank four rank. Five is the chief executive. I stress the fact that at higher ranks the representative system is generally nonexplicit. But formalization is nowadays growing into ever higher levels of the hierarchy. White collar trade unions are stimulating this tendency. Elected representatives, in turn, form committees for each rank. In most companies, this doesn't happen. At higher levels of management. Later, we shall discuss the formation of works councils embracing management and representatives of all ranks. I hope that we've now established the idea of the existence of two separate social systems, the work system and the representative system. That each employee has a second role in the latter, either as a constituent, can he believe, or as a rep. This is absolutely disgraceful, this lecture, or whatever you call it. The man's making a direct suggestion to all members of the company to join trade unions. If people want to join unions, that's their business. But he's no right to infer that. Managerial people ought to. If they'd got any sense, they would. They do if they have. Mr. Black, did you not say to Mr. Brody in my presence that you and all the rest of the senior staff were getting restive? I had it. And wasn't the reason because relativities over holidays and pensions between senior staff and others were fast disappearing? It's true. And I'll say it again. Were you speaking then and are you speaking now as a representative? No, of course not. With all respect, are you entitled to say that all the senior staff are getting worried? Well, maybe in a way I was speaking for them. And I take your point. But that doesn't mean we should all become union members. Well, the man didn't say that. He talked about non explicit representative systems at high levels. And I don't think it would be a bad thing if I were to be told officially by an elected representative what my senior staff were thinking. Now, a year ago, we lost three engineers, but if I'd known earlier what was worrying them, they might still be here. There were three first class chaps in my position. I'm constantly finding myself acting as unofficial non elected representative. If there is such a creature for all sorts of people. Informal representative, perhaps. I take your point, Mr. Murray. But, Mr. Black, if you were an elected representative of senior staff, I think you'd do a first class job. Me? In my position? A shop? Stuart? Don't be daft, man. I'm management. Wait until we union members negotiate wages for our chaps above what you plant managers get. Then you'll elect representatives and even foreign unions quick enough? What about differentials, Amos? Differentials? What that? I think we'll get on hi, if you please. What has to be recognized is that unless all strata roles in the employment system are able to formalize their representation, then managements are unable to discuss changes which affect all employees with representatives of all simultaneously. This leads to the familiar grievance of, say, foreman, that management and shop stewards discuss and negotiate and the foreman get their information about what's going to happen. From shop stewards. Aye. My drawing office members are kept in ignorance too. That puts you on the spot, Jock. Now I've told you often enough that we should be in on your talks with the management. Well, if representatives of all levels get together to negotiate with management, I take it that's what a man means when he talks of formalisation or representation. And you and I, Wolf, will find ourselves sitting around a table with non union representatives. Now is that not right? Right. Well, maybe Mr. Black would be representing the plant managers instead of beating the drum for management. Now would you wear that, Wolf? No. Now let's go on. Lack of a fully developed representative system means that crucial debates over differential conditions and wages between different sections and levels of staff, which ought to take place in one forum with all present, can't happen. This leads to fragmented negotiations, leapfrogging claims and eventually real trouble. I won't go further into those issues now because part four will be concerned with negotiating institutions. I'm now going to emphasize some of the differences between work roles and representative roles. Because if these differences are not understood, serious trouble can arise. I shall demonstrate these differences with a number of short incidents based on real life situations. Here is the first. This is a difficult situation. When I ask to meet the shop stewards of my department, I expect to meet Charlie George of the Tngw. No offence, Mr king, but you don't work in my department. How can I discuss its affairs with you? Oh, my members elect is their business, not yours, and I'm not hold on, Bert. Joe Thompson's a reasonable man. You can at least explain what's happened. Okay. Well, at our branch meeting we'd agreed that we'd too many shop stewards, so we're very organized, that's all. I don't need you, Mr. King, to tell me that how your union organises its representation is your business and nothing to do with management. But let's make this clear. There has been a general understanding for a long time that you let management know in advance of the changes that you intend to make. Why the hell should common sense that's? Why? If representative boundaries cut across departmental boundaries, we're in a mess. Having some of my chaps represented by someone who works in another department is going to make things very difficult for me and probably for others too. We've already said that representative systems must not be considered as part of the employment hierarchy. They are distinct and separate, containing quite different roles and institutions. But since the two systems interact, the representative system is best designed with reference to the organization explicit and agreed procedures. Not the informal arrangement mentioned in the scene will help to keep the systems in step. But because each employee occupies two separate roles, the following type of situation can arise hey, what the hell's going on? Bill? You know the job on your machine has got go out tonight. You've been away from the shop after the afternoon do you're chatting up at the right time? I'm not chatting up. You could have fooled me. I'm dealing with a serious issue. As shop steward for this department. Just what is this serious issue? That's the union's business, not yours. Look George, I know the job's urgent but if I don't square this issue up it won't be one job which will be late but the bloody lot because my members are on the warpath. What about? There's a shop stewards meeting with a works manager tomorrow and if you don't know what it's about, it isn't my business to tell you. That scene discloses two problems. First, there must be an understanding that a representative can't desert his work role without the agreement of his manager. Otherwise any shop steward can throw a spanner in the work system. But it must be clear that such managerial agreement for a subordinate to spend work time in representative duties cannot be unreasonably withheld. Management is dependent on a smoothly working representative system for feedback of feeling and for negotiations. Thus all managers must be trained to understand and respect the role of representatives. A management must do what it can to help a representative system to work smoothly. This is a Travis a minute. Andrew hamish. Run it back a flick. A management must do what it can to help a representative system to work smoothly. For example, in a large plant the role of convener or chairman of shop stewards is important and onerous in many cases he should be released from work entirely given a decent office telephone and some clerical service. Otherwise some foreman is going to have an absentee subordinate and the task of a shop steward's convener will be such as to make an angel lose its temper. No opinions? No. I'd like to see the man's mad. Do you think any decent trade junior would accept a suggestion like that? When I was a shop steward you're a shop steward? Why, didn't you know the old AEU? If you'll stop your aye, I was a shop steward with the old AEU. And in my day I'll have you know Mr Sands, we were a really decent union of crafts. Mind a poor job you did of it too. Starvation wages and dictatorship. Anyway, the idea of accepting favours of a telephone and an office back would never have been considered. We've done a damn site better for our members than you ever did. It's putting yourself into the hands of management. If we hadn't forced the employers to give us decent wages after the war and taught managers to have some respect for us, the trots would have got control and we'd all be even worse off than we are. Yes, Mr Murray, but I prefer to know what you think of this office suggestion. You mean the whole deal time off completely from production work? Yes, providing my committee agreed. I can see no reason why wouldn't accept. Well, the man's quite right. Trying to keep my form and sweet and do my convener's job well. If I do the one well, the other suffers. Do you want me to follow it up? Yes, and for me too. That would require more thought, mr. Sands. Come off at well for over a thousand members. You can't have more than 50. All right. I'm not pressed for it now, but we'll see about it later. Giving the convener a decent office where he can meet his shop stewards, phony's, union and so on is the outward manifestation of acknowledgement by management that representatives are important not only to their constituents, but to management itself. Having made these points, I must point out that shop stewards, in an attempt to protect their negotiating rights, very frequently prevent or try to prevent managers from behaving in a realistic manner. These damned rumors have got to be stopped. If they're not, you can get a new foreman. I can't go on like this. Yeah, I agree. I can't control the lads much longer. Right. I'm coming down to talk to your people at 1130. I want you to stop the shop and tell them I'm coming. I'll have to tell them what's in the wind myself. Hold it. You can't do that. Negotiations will either take place with me and my convener or not at all. It's my job to tell the members what the situation is, not yours. You can't call a shop meeting. That type of confusion is all too common. That manager is trying to do the right thing. He wants to face the shop personally and state the facts as he knows them. The shop steward assumed that the plant manager would try to negotiate with the whole meeting, which he knows would lead to real trouble and is in any case, impossible. Some simple rules would clear the misunderstanding and enable both managers and representatives to carry out their proper function rules such as these. But first, a definition. The extended command of a manager comprises all those employees working at different levels in the organization for whose work he is ultimately responsible. This new definition is necessary before the problem can be discussed in clear terms. Now for the rules. Negotiation will only take place at meetings between managers and representatives. It is impossible in any case for any manager to negotiate with a whole department of employees. Information which will affect the working conditions of large numbers of employees should be communicated by a manager personally to his extended command. I suggest we call the process of direct communication by managers contraction. The word conveys the idea of contracting the work hierarchy. This is, in one sense what happens when, say, the chief executive talks to the whole company. Contraction could save many strikes. Representatives are accountable to those who elected them for conveying consensus views to management. They are not accountable for communicating management information to constituencies. In this sense, representatives are a very important and essential feedback system. A manager who communicates directly with his extended command to provide information is behaving impractically if he uses the occasion to attempt to negotiate or to solicit views or information. Clearly the manager who listens to the necessarily small percentage of those who speak out in a contracted situation would be doing something very dangerous if he believes those opinions to be the general view of all of his extended command. The final point that should be made about representative systems you'll presumably want to discuss that as convener as shop stewards. It says beneath discussion. Now I'd regard any behavior of that kind as a bloody insult to shop stewards. If a manager what's the word? Contracts. Contracts. Well, if a manager contracts well, some of the lads would be bound to shout their heads off. So what's it all about? There's nothing wrong with stewards doing the job the way they've always done it. Mr Murray, I respect your feelings and your position, but you've picked up one point and dropped the others. I've picked up the important point. I agree. And I'll put to you my side of the question. In my view, we'd have avoided a lot of real bother and disturbed feelings over the years. If on several occasions I had contracted you're inferring that we twisted your proposals deliberately deliberately, Mr Murray? Good heavens, no. What then? You won't deny that in the past representatives have picked out the possible shortcomings of management plans and ignored or played down the possible benefits? I can't see there's no acquire Wolf. Now you'll have to be specific if you're going to make statements like that. No, I will not accept it. I'm not asking you to accept it. I'm telling you what I know. I don't blame them for doing it. It's not unreasonable in the present situation, but it has caused down tools in the past. Now, if either my managers or myself had put the whole story across, there might well have been no trouble, would have walked out. True, without those simple rules just presented which you've just chosen to ignore. There are no simple rules here in Wolf. Now you're getting away from the point. Now I'm saying that the idea of contraction is a slight in the integrity of shop stewards. What does a right wing newspaper do in reporting the plans of a labour government or vice versa? It doesn't. Cynical about them highlights the shortcomings. It must inevitably be the same way with the representatives and managers who contract will equally and inevitably paint a rosy picture and try to fool the lads. Possibly. But with those simple rules enforce, there can't be negotiation and all your people will get the whole management story instead of part of it. And for goodness sake. They can discuss it after management's left. I don't know what all this is about. Now. My members insist we'll say in the drawing office. The chief draftsman tells us what's going on. Whatever we want to know. Well, you never understand. You're having my problems now, 20 members to every one of yours. Unity, gentlemen, unity. Personally, I find this very interesting indeed. Particularly as I've been contracting, as the wee man calls it, for years. But maybe nobody's aye, we know. But the lads take it from you. Maybe because the AEU trained you properly in your day. The lads know you wouldn't be as daftest to negotiate with the whole gang. But I wouldn't say the same as some of your colleagues. I couldn't trust some of them to behave. I still wet behind the ears. Steady on, Jock. Okay, let's say just a wee bit lacking in experience. Now, hold it a moment. Now, let's forget this theoretical stuff for a moment and get one thing clear. Now, we shop stewards are responsible to the members who elected us and to our unions. We've got no responsibility to managers or management in any way. Now, that's a fact. Now, do you respect that as a fact? Absolutely. Now, let's get on. The final point that should be made about representative systems is that they provide anonymity I'll illustrate this with another scene. Mr. Barr, you amaze me. You've been in the company 15 years and you hold these opinions. You don't know what my opinions are, Mr. Smith. You seem to forget I'm here as a representative. All right. Which of your chaps hold these opinions? Because I'd very much like to talk to them. I'd soon show them it's an impossible point of view. You ought to know I can't give you that information. The views I'm putting to you haven't got any names to them. But I can tell you they're held by the majority of my membership. Yes, but can't you see my problem? If I accept what you say and act on it and you haven't put your members views over correctly, I'm in trouble. You're not. I am. You'll have acted in good faith in accepting me as spokesman and you can't do anything else. But if I keep misrepresenting my members'opinions and in a way they aren't prepared to tolerate well, they'll recall me and elect somebody else. No comment is needed here. Except perhaps that Mr. Smith seems to be the sort of manager who might go around asking the personal views of individuals. A collective view is best obtainable through a representative system. The policies pursued by representatives can differ from a summation of such. Personal views will often vote for something regarded as a principle although its adoption will prove marginally detrimental to them personally. An individual will not necessarily tell a manager what he really thinks. That's right. Managers who act on their own supposition of the views of a department in defiance of the views expressed by representatives can land in trouble. Many I know all that, but some of my managers don't. These university engineers we take on nowadays are supposed to have been taught something about management at college. But they're not taught the things I learned the hard way. That ends my comments on representative systems. I've tried to bring out in explicit statements some of the underlying realities of the situation. Representative systems exist. The roles within them are quite distinct from employment roles. Representative systems have describable properties. I hope that what I've said is largely obvious. That's not to suggest that this discussion of the representative system has been unnecessary. The statement in explicit form of experience, which often lies in an unstable form, deep in personal experience, can be a most useful process. It enables everybody to share the same mental models of the situation. It enables everybody to share the same mental models of the situation. Have I got that right? Exactly. Word for word, do we? Well, I'm not prepared to commit myself. But you'd agree that that was more or less the theme of the whole series. What is? That last speech. The theme of making social things explicit. I won't ask you to commit yourself, Mr. Murray, but what do you feel as an individual, not as convener? Well, you learned something, sir, and I wouldn't have called you that in my shop steward role. I'll say this for it. I find it very stimulating. Maybe my committee will, whenever we look at it. And what do you say, Mr. Draftsman? Sands. Well, don't try to push these ideas in over our heads. Not very prepared to think things over. Of course, if I should ever think of adopting these ideas, I'd need a wide measure of agreement first. Share the same mental models. Anyway, I hope you'll be ready to see the remainder of the series. The next part four is on works councils. Works councils? That's a nicely controversial subject for writings on the wall. So they say. What would the EEC regulation? These films are based on the results of research carried out in the Glacier Metal Company Limited, which have been in practice in the company for many years and which are described in detail in Lord Wilfred Brown's book Organization.

Country
UK
Date
1970
Language
English
Organization
Glacier Institute of Management

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