per cent. The union has ensured that wage rates are high and that the use of casual workers is controlled. One of its main preoccupations is to achieve security of employment for its members. On the whole, relationships between the union and management are good but the union has taken a strong line against the company on previous occasions and could do so again. There is a works council which meets four times a year and discusses, on the whole amicably, employment and productivity issues. There is no outright hostility to new technology but the union has expressed grave concerns about the possibility of job losses. To achieve competitive advantage, Containers Worldwide is considering the introduction of more advanced technology to automate the loading and unloading of containers. It has analysed the functions involved following this programme and has identified six in all, each requiring a fair degree of skill. The effectiveness of the new arrangements depends on having a reasonable degree of flexibility in order to provide for agile responses to changing demands at the container port. An analysis conducted by the Director of HR established that very few employees had the skills required to carry out more than one of those functions, which would seriously restrict flexibility. He also obtained from the Director of Port Operations an initial estimate of future labour requirements which suggested that there would be no change in the numbers of full-time employees but that fewer casual workers would be needed. However, he was told that this estimate was unreliable –more information was required on the impact of the new technology and future activity levels based on forecasts of the demand for container shipments. The Director of HR raised his concerns with the Board about how the introduction of the new technology should be dealt with, taking into account the people and trade union issues involved and emphasising that this constituted a major change management challenge. He
85 undertook to put forward recommendations on how this should be tackled at the next Board meeting. The task Outline the recommendations that the HR Director might make on the HR and industrial relations strategy that should be adopted. Feedback The recommendations should typically cover: the preparation of a more accurate forecast of future labour needs with an indication of what information would be needed to get this done the implications of the requirement for greater flexibility – which implies multiskilling and therefore a special training programme how the union should be handled, including the information it should be given, allaying fears about job losses, dealing with the possibility of hostility to increased flexibility and/or a request for guaranteed security, and what should be done about any claim it would make for increased pay following the multiskilling programme what the impact of this would be on the climate in the organisation – think about the
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