chapter  5
15 Pages

Industrial relations and the management of risk in the construction industry


It is argued that, from the employers’ perspective, the framework for industrial relations is sustained as a form of risk management. Given the unpredictability of the human element within the construction process, national collective bargaining represents the machinery for damage limitation and for cost containment in managing people. The national machinery for bargaining is not seen by employers as a vehicle for enhancing and extending employee commitment or worker ‘voice’. Nor does it serve significantly to extend participation in decisionmaking. Provision for employee involvement within the industry is absent, despite the formal recognition of trade unions within the sector. There is little evidence that employers have turned to concepts such as ‘high commitment’ or ‘high performance management’ – noted in some other sectors – as a means of implementing change. The various initiatives since the Latham Report ten years ago suggest a change in employer orientation, yet to date there is little evidence of substantive innovation in industrial relations management.