The range of pressures which has impacted on localgovernment in the 1980s has forced the emergenceof dynamic and sophisticated forms of industrialrelations at the workplace level. It is clear, however,that with conceptual tools forged to analysedevelopments in the private manufacturing sector,very few attempts have been made by academics,policymakers or commentators to discuss thestructures and processes which have emerged.The character of the changes at authority level areconsidered using material from a survey ofpersonnel officers in over a third of authorities inEngland and Wales and within the context ofprevailing analytical and theoretical frameworks. Itis argued that the distinctive development of thepersonnel function in local government has resultedin a managerial process which conforms to keyfeatures of the human resource managementHRM model, in particular the devolution ofpersonnel responsibilities to line managers and theintegration of personnel concerns at the strategiclevel. However, other features of this model areless in evidence. The search for employeecommitment and flexibility remains patchy andoften appears as a practical response to labourmarket and competitive pressures. Furthermore,collectivist features of employee relations remainwell entrenched with the continued encouragementof both union membership and involvement. Thisis not to deny change beyond the HRM model.Thus, it is clear that established joint machineryis becoming increasingly unable to deal withongoing issues while the trade unions are graduallybeing forced into a consultative rather than abargaining role.
Employee Relations: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 1991