Employment relationship is unlike any other business relationship due to the element of reciprocity between an employer and employee, the prevailing power dynamics and the regulation of the respective relationship by the state. It is initiated through the employment contract that is present in both an explicit and implicit form. The power element is not necessarily on the side of the employer; however, recent legislation has favoured them through measures like the preference for workplace agreements over collective bargaining. This has raised serious questions in terms of safeguarding the interests of the disadvantaged who form a dominant part of the casual workforce and has the potential to grow into an undesirable conflict. Therefore, the future seems to be pointing towards a more Pluralistic form of reference for framing laws in governing employment relationships, rather than, the current Unitarist inclination.
Employment Relations have evolved over time from a master/servant relationship to the current manager/managed relationship in developed countries as a result of ‘the industrial revolution in England that subsequently resulted in the shift from employment as a factor of status to employment as a factor of contract’ (Freedman, Bakaly and Grossman, cited in Coyle-Shapiro et al. 2004, p. 66).
In Australia, the seeds of institutionalising employment relationship were sown following the tumultuous industrial actions of 1890’s that forced visionaries like Higgins to promote the concept of collective bargaining and move towards the creation of institutions like the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC). This was based upon the governance of industrial relations with the concept of Pluralistic Neo-Institutionalism and was continued till the 1990’s. Things changed with the arrival of coalition government that signaled the preference towards Unitarism with the Work Choices legislation based upon Neo-Liberalism...