Employment Relations Essay


This essay will discuss the two different management approaches towards to the recent industrial action taken against Lend Lease and identify what differentiate the two approaches. The second part of the essay will provide an argument of how applying these approaches from the upper management could potentially change the outcome of the industrial action against Lend Lease.


Pluralist approach:

The characteristic of pluralist approach is to satisfy various interests and aspirations within their employees. The organization power was diffused among the main negotiating groups within the company in such a way that no any party will dominate others.

Pluralism approach is open about employment relationships as it allows the creation of a potential structural opposition to be raised, as well as allows the workplace to generate certain conflicts with the organization. By doing so, it will prevent public interest conflict as well as to suppress the inappropriate use of power from the upper management.

However, the weakness of pluralist approach is that it relies on the negotiation and bargaining process when there are disputes incurred between the management and the workforce, if in the event of the dispute cannot be resolved it will resorts to the use of law.

Management in pluralist approach should not prohibit any ideas or expectations of blind obedience from the employees. Their goal is to reconcile conflicting views and keep the conflict within an acceptable range, so the conflict does not destroy the organization.

Unitarist approach:

The characteristic of unitarist approach are regarded that the whole organization shares a common purpose and are united in the achievement of common goal. The role of management in unitarist approach has the ability to provide leadership and expected to have good communications, while employees should be loyal to the organization and to carry out the work organised by management as directed.

Worker Unions are considered competitive and is believed to destroy the loyalty and the commitments of the employees hence it is not welcomed by the managements.

However, the weakness of unitarist approach is that it fails to recognise the needs of different interests between employees, and assumed that decisions made by managements are rational and contain within the interest of all employees.

Unitarist approach believes that conflicts in the workplace is not inherent, in fact, it is a communication failure between the organization and the employees. For example, on the 24th July, the workers for Lend Lease has decided to walk off the site and start the 48 hours strike after the breakdown in the negosiation of better pay and condition. This shows that the employees are not accepting how the management’s lack of awareness of their needs.

On the 25th July, ACTU published a media release stating the issues between Lend Lease and its employees, and suggested that Lend Lease should consider a fair working environment and pay for its contractors and sub-contractors, given that Lend Lease has made almost half a million worth of profits last year but failed to provide a fair working condition to its workers. This media release shows that the Union are trying to attract social awareness by publishing public release and in the hope of forcing Lend Lease to re-negotiate their terms.

On the 27th July, CFMEU has escalated the issue to a national level and the Union has set up a picket at the Barangaroo construction site. This action has caused Lend lease sites in lockdown across the country, as stated by one of the employee Brain Parker “The company is not currently bargaining in good faith”

The above event shows that if Lend Lease has followed the pluralist approach, the action may be able to be under control as Lend Lease will act by considering the words and the issues rose between the management and the employees and can act accordingly to the issue.

However, according to the examples shown, Lend Lease seems to have been following the unitarist approach which has in fact, escalated the conflicts between the management and their employees as shown in the article published by green Left. The article mentioned that Lend Lease did not made a sincere approach to the negotiation and offered something that the Union consider as “a joke” which did not loosen the tension but added more stress on top of it.

Identify which one of the approaches provides the better explanation. Explain your reasoning.

Based on the industrial action that has been taken against Lend Lease, it shows that Lend Lease was first using the Unitarist approach to their employees by not willing to negotiate with their new proposal. This has than created an enormous negative impact on both the social and the company as the projects were likely being delayed due to the industrial actions.


In conclusion, Lend Lease would have been able to avoid the industrial actions by having a dynamic management approach on their worker base on different situation. This essay shows how in appropriate management style could create such impact on both the social media and the company itself.

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