Worker's Participation in Management: evolution,Essential Features,Constraints and Potential

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Mwiya, Maata
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University of Zambia
This study provides first, a descriptive analysis, of participation through works councils. Secondly the study provides a survey of the level of, constraints on, and potential for, workers' participation in practice.The study was conducted in eleven enter¬prises in Lusaka from May to October, 1978 plus a six weeks' study tour of the Central and Co-pperbelt Provinces. The methodology framework of the study includes literature review, use of official documents, questionnaires and interviews.The study reveals that workers' participa¬tion was introduced in Zambia for both ideological and pragmatic reasons. Because of the ideologieal commitments to the philosophy of humanism, the ruling party (UNIP) and the Government initially wanted a radical type of workers' participation somewhat modelled after the Yugoslav system of self-management. However, the employers and the socio-economic conditions prevailing in Zambia during the 1969-71 period (when the legislative process was underway), suggested caution and put pressure on the Government to finally adopt a moderate model of workers' participation similar to the West German Scheme of Works Councils. The evaluation of workers' participation in practice demonstrates that workers are rarely informed, consulted and involved in co-decision to the extent envisioned by Part VII of the Industrial Relations Act. The main constraints on participation according to the study are; unfavourable management attitudes, inadequate support from Government and other institutions for participation^ legal complexities and contra-dictions, and irrelevance of the type of issues discussed in Council meetings to workers' imme¬diate interests.Unfavourable management attitudes are caused by the managers' ideas about participationo Most managers think that participation negated corporate autonomy, has no immediate value, and is an unwanted bother. Such negative attitudes frustrate the rank and file and curtail the level of workers' participation in management. The problem of legal complexities involves the existence of a veritable maze of work rules, regulations, articles of labour, and company legislation beyond the workers' control. The problem of inadequate government support stems from lack of resources. This pro¬blem has affected the seriousness with which workers participation has been taken by both employees and employers and has delayed the consolidation of participation.
MA- Sociology
Management--Employee participation , Works councils , Industrial management--Employee participation