Author: Leung, Mak-kwan Stephen
Title: Labour-management joint consultation in the private sector of Hong Kong
Degree: M.B.A.
Year: 1995
Subject: Labor-management committee -- China -- Hong Kong
Management -- China -- Hong Kong -- Employee participation
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Management
Pages: xv, 149 p. ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: Labour management joint consultation has been extensively discussed in the western world in the last century. Properly handled, it could be a very effective means of communication in the work organisation. Concrete and visible advantages such as increased efficiency, cost reduction and higher output with higher quality are amongst the most often cited benefits of JCCs. Other more subtle and long-term benefits include a greater sense of commitment to the organisation and a more rational and sympathetic response to organisational changes on the part of employees. The extent to which it is practised in Hong Kong businesses leaves much room for future development. The managements' lack of interest can be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, Hong Kong's businesses are typically small enterprises employing less than 50 persons. These firms prefer the informal communications channel to the institutionalized way of consultation such as JCCs. Second, employees are weak in organising and communication skills through formal channels. They also lack training on committee work. Thirdly, the high labour mobility discourages both management and employees in setting up formal communication networks in their establishments. Next, JCCs have limited power and ability to deal with important matters. Finally, there is a hidden danger that the JCCs will eventually turn into a bargaining unit subject to union manipulation. On the other hand, employees' apathy stems from the suspicion that such mechanism is just another management tactics to marginalise employees' power of collective influence on the shop floor. Furthermore, the employee representatives fear that they could be easily branded 'management-bought' and thus alienated from their fellow workers. In any case, JCCs have limited power and authority to deal with important matters on the shop floor. In this short cross-sectional study of the practice of JCCs in Hong Kong, their major characteristics such as their constitutions and procedures, as well as their political and staff relations implications, are analysed and interpreted. The findings suggest that Hong Kong is still at an embryonic stage as far as labour management joint consultation or industrial democracy is concerned. Despite government's promotion efforts and employer's propitious attitudes, JCCs have yet to gain greater acceptance by the employees and the unions. In a survey conducted by the Labour Department in 1993, only 37 firms were reported to be practising JCCs. A majority of them were the public utilities such as power companies, telecommunications and the mass public transport operators. Others were mainly services companies such as cargo handling and storage facilities and aircraft engineering firms, etc. The industrial sector, including manufacturing, electricity and gas registered little interest, except for a few firms specialising in garments, knitting and dairy and other food products. Five companies from different trades and industries were further selected for in-depth case study. The findings largely corroborated with those of the earlier survey done by the Labour Department. More in-depth analysis was however attempted of the detailed operations of the JCCs of these firms and the problems encountered therein. The implications for future labour relations were discussed. Finally, a few conclusions are drawn. Some recommendations are also made for future research, proper running of JCCs and more government promotion efforts. It is believed that with sustained management support and employee understanding, the future development of JCCs would still be optimistic.
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