What Are the Causes of Conflict in Industrial Relations?

by Quentin Coleman; Updated September 26, 2017
Group of workers in factory

Industrial relations describes the complex, and sometimes aggravated, relationship between top-level industry management and employee organizations. Conflicts arise between these two entities when a problem is not brought to a peaceful resolution or compromise.

Conflicts Caused by Compensation

Among the many types of conflicts that arise in industrial relations, conflicts related specifically to compensation are the most prominent. Friction develops between unions and management if employees are not satisfied with their compensation (wages, salary and/or benefits).

Conflicts Caused by Policy

Conflicts between management and employees may develop over the details of a company policy. If employees believe that a certain stipulation within their company's policy is unfair, illegal or immoral, they may attempt to resolve the issue by negotiating with the industry's management to amend the policy.

Conflicts over Personal or Sick Days Policy

Employees and management often find themselves at odds over vacation and sick day policies. Employees may protest the lack of paid vacation days, sick days or holidays. This is one of the most common policy conflicts in industrial relations.

Conflicts Caused by Layoffs

Employee unions and organizations may quickly instigate a confrontation with management if they hear of possible (or actual) layoffs in an industry. Conflict arises when unions protest management's claim that they need to layoff employees to save money (rather than cutting expenses elsewhere in a company's budget, e.g., disproportionate salary and benefits packages for top-level management).

Conflict Caused by Proximity

Conflicts in an industry can spread quickly. If the employees of a single company in an industry are protesting or striking, employees in companies within the same industry may do the same as a show of support. This type of conflict can shut down an entire industry and often requires complex negotiations to resolve.

About the Author

Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images