A Review

Gollan and Patmore (2002: 18) suggest partnership as a loose term for “the relations between employees and employers, or between trade unions and management teams at the workplace level”. Haynes  (2001: 167) conclude the themes contained in various partnership definitions: mutual legitimation, commitment to cooperative process, joint decision-making, and consultation. The relationship emphasises on business success and employment security.

Partnership has been proposed as an alternative strategy for reviving unions (Haynes and Allen 2001; Heery 2002). In the UK, partnership has been embraced since the 1990s (Lucio and Stuart 2002: 306) and further gaining a pertinent support from the Government  in the form of the Employment Relations Act 1999, which encourage business to adopt the concept of partnership at the workplace, and the establishment of ‘partnership fund’ (Gollan and Patmore 2002: 19) . The Trade Union Congress (TUC) as the peak union body has further established the Partnership Institute to promote partnership of union and employer at workplaces. Heery (2002) noted that there were more than 50 partnership agreements already registered in the UK.

Therefore, partnership may takes form as a cooperative process in the scheme of EI for boosting productivity, efficiency, and employee involvement at the shop level decision-making. This method was utilised primarily in Japan and the US (Markey 2001: 5). Partnership may also operate as an advisory, negotiation, or codetermination mechanism in the scope of indirect participation, which is primarily practised in European country as work councils, as Labour Management Cooperation (LMC), or in the form of union-management formal and informal arrangements in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and also in the US (Bartram and Cregan 2003; Cully et al. 1999; Heery 2002; Markey 2001; Nissen 2003: 137).

Some studies investigated how JCCs and other indirect participation (IP) schemes were implemented between in-house (enterprise) unions and management in Malaysia or Indonesia (Idrus 2001; Parasuraman and Satrya 2006), the operation of work councils in South Africa (Wood and Mahabir 2001), whereas other studies uncovered various consultation schemes utilised in India and Singapore at the level of local up to national (Ratnam 1995; Wong 2000).



  • Bartram, T. and C. Cregan. 2003. ‘Consultative Employment Relations in Human Resource Management Environments with a Union Presence.’ Journal of Industrial Relations 45(4): 539-545.
  • Cully, M. et al. 1999. Britain at Work. London: Routledge.
  • Haynes, P. and M. Allen. 2001. ‘Partnership as Union Strategy: A Preliminary Evaluation.’ Employee Relations 23(2): 164-187.
  • Heery, E. 2002. ‘Partnership Versus Organising: Alternative Futures for British Trade Unionism.’ Industrial Relations Journal 33(1): 20-35.
  • Gollan, P.J. and G. Patmore. 2002. ‘The Challenge of Employee Democracy’. In Partnership at Work : The Challenge of Employee Democracy, eds G. Patmore and P.J. Gollan. Annandale, N.S.W.: Pluto Press.
  • Lucio, M.M. and M. Stuart. 2002. ‘Assessing the Principles of Partnership: Workplace Trade Union Representatives’ Attitudes and Experiences.’ Employee Relations 24(3): 305-320.
  • Markey, R. 2001. ‘Introduction: Global Patterns of Participation’. In Models of Employee Participation in a Changing Global Environment : Diversity and Interaction, eds R. Markey, et al. Aldershot, Hampshire, England ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
  • Nissen, B. 2003. ‘Alternative Strategic Directions for the U.S. Labor Movement: Recent Scholarship.’ Labor Studies Journal 28(1).
  • Idrus, D. 2001. An Examination of the Contending Factors Shaping the Role of the State in Malaysian Industrial Relations. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Stirling.
  • Parasuraman, B. and A. Satrya. 2006. ‘Constructing Joint Consultation Committee in Postal Industry: Case Studies in Malaysia and Indonesia.’ Paper presented to 3rd National Human Resource Management Conference, City Bayview Hotel, Langkawi, Malaysia, 26-28 November 2006.
  • Ratnam, C.S.V. 1995. ‘Economic Liberalization and the Transformation of Industrial Relations Policies in India’. In Employment Relations in the Growing Asian Economies, eds A. Verma, T.A. Kochan and R.D. Lansbury. London: Routledge.
  • Wong, E.S. 2000. Partnership of Trade Unions in National Development Programmes and in Promotion of Labour Mobility in Singapore. Geneva: International Institute for Labour Studies.
  • Wood, G. and P. Mahabir. 2001. ‘South Africa’s Workplace Forum System: A Stillborn Experiment in the Democratisation of Work?’ Industrial Relations Journal 32(3).

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