Thursday, 12 May 2011

The case for Tripartism

Blog time again, and today I'm gonna be writing about a, in my view superior, method of handling industrial relations, and I'm not talking about the Tin Man dealing with his racist uncle, no I am instead talking about dealings between employers and employees.

The method I am referring to, as you will have guessed from the title, is tripartism. While this is a general term referring to cooperation between the state, workers and business, I am using it in this context to refer to the idea that things such as wage rises, price rises, working conditions etc, should be set by agreement of these 3 groups rather than the present situation where the state simply sets a minimum and the two other groups wage a needless battle to decide the rest. Not only does the current system promote hostility between business and workers, it also impacts negatively on all three parties as well as everyone else through the problems caused by strikes and even the threat of strikes. This is one of the many reasons I advocate tripartism, better that representatives of each group sit down and make an agreement that all parties must follow rather than have two of the parties simply war with each other over every little thing. And in a suddenly abrupt transition, I shall now list the arguments for tripartism.

1. Prevention of strikes. Strikes are a disruptive and destructive force that hurts everyone, except maybe for sellers of picket signs those guys actually do quite well out of it. Rail strikes for example harm the public transport sector, which is the exact opposite of what we want to do, what with the environment and all, as well as disrupting the sectors of the economy where those commuters work. Energy sector strikes have an even worse effect, no one needs reminding of such atrocities as the three day week and rolling blackouts. Also lets not forget that the strikes harm the workers themselves, many of whom have families to feed, families the workers shouldn't have to jeopardise the welfare of just so they can negotiate for better conditions.

 2. Stability. The guarantee that there will be no strikes, as well as the ability to negotiate long term contracts, gives business and workers a greater degree of stability and ability to plan in the long term. Also the stability will make our exports seem more reliable, making foreign firms more likely to make deals with British firms.

3. Controlling inflation. This is is a slightly unusual benefit of tripartism, if price and wage rises have set borderlines then we can control inflation, allowing for an expansionary fiscal policy without its effect being eroded by inflation, as well as the positive impact low inflation has on peoples real income, investment and pensions. I may come back to this at a later date when I discuss the fact that the Bank of England has about the same effect as a witch doctor on inflation.

4. Standardisation. If there are pre-set agreements across the industry, we can avoid or at least lessen the rather unpleasant situation whereby two people can be doing the exact same job at the same level of skill but there can exist a great disparity between their pay and conditions.

5. Gives all parties a chance to put forward their case. Self explanatory really, and I don't just mean its obvious, I literally cannot think of a way to expand on that, hence I am using this as filler.

So there are what I consider to be the main arguments in favour of tripartism, maybe they have swayed you, maybe not, maybe your a robot just learning of its own existence and learning at an alarming rate, in which case I am impressed by modern science, but that's not the point.

Live with a man forty years. Share his house, his meal, speak on every subject, then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano's edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man. - Xiang Yu

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