Alors que les travailleurs sont groupés dans quelques centrales syndicales organisées rationnellement tant sur le plan professionnel que sur le plan géographique, les employeurs sont obligés d'appartenir à une multitude d'associations les plus disparates et n'ayant aucune coordination entre elles. L'auteur, dans cet article, tente de présenter une analyse et une classification des groupements patronaux.
Whereas the workers are grouped together in only a few Central bodies, rationally organized, professionally and geographically, the employers are obliged to belong to a multitude of very scattered associations which have no link together.
This absence of systematization, if it does not prevent an effective defense of the employers' interests as a whole, nor the promotion of the industry, trade and services, does tend to create confusion among the employers, dissipates their efforts and finally does not contribute to the establishment of a balanced social order in the near future.
This study does not intend to judge the merits of this or that group nor the effectiveness of their actions.
WHY SO MANY EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATIONS?
We mean by employers' associations any permanent unions of persons or corporations interested by their positions in the production of goods or services or seeking employers' interests in opposition to what might be called "the workers' interests".
Why are there so many employers' associations? This is due to two reasons: a) the complexity of the employers' needs; b) the empiricism which presided at the birth and development of these groups.
a) The complexity of employers needs
Workers' needs in their professional life are concentrated on a few clean-cut and closely-connected points: the payment for their work and the conditions under which this work is performed. The labour union may easily look after all the professional interests or the workers, represent them before the employer and the governments.
This is not the case when we consider the objectives sought by the managers of enterprises. No doubt, they also must look for sufficient remuneration as well as a fair return on the invested capital, but precisely because they have the responsibility for production, they must also carry on activities which have economic, technical, administrative and human aspects.
b) Empiricism in the development of employers' associations
To these many-sided problems, there could have replied adequate associations able to cover all these needs. But for reasons of a doctrinal, historical or psychological nature, the employers' associations have developed without any preconceived plan, from immediate interests, from circumstances and even from personal whims.
It has been necessary every time for an outside force to provoke and even sometimes, impose common action. As these outside forces have not appeared at the same time and as they are dissimilar themselves, it is not surprising if they have given birth to incomplete and dissimilar groups.
It would be interesting to study in regard to this subject the influence of tariff, fiscal or so-called "labour measures" on the formation of employers' groups. To-day almost all sectors of employers have associations and even several according to the particular interests concerned.
AN ATTEMPT AT CLASSIFICATION
a) Improperly called employers' Associations
First of all, we have organizations which are not, properly-speaking, employers' associations although they seem to have that appearance, and group together especially management people or if they act in favour of employers. They have as members either individuals or Companies.
These are organizations which have as an objective the promotion of business in general or the spreading of certain information. The Chambers of Commerce belong to this first category. A Chamber of Commerce (Senior or Junior) is a group of people having as objective the promoting of the general interests of industry and commerce as well as influencing the State and the public to hold favourable attitudes to economic advancement in general.
But the Chambers of Commerce cannot be classified among the employers' associations. No more so than those which might be called information centers, as the Quebec Industrial Relations Institute, the credit associations which have corporate members; these organizations group enterprises having different activities and have as objective the sharing of information or the distribution of information among their members without fulfilling any representative function either for the State, labour unions or the public.
b) True employers' associations
It must be noted here, that with the exception of that which concerns stricdv the employer movement, these associations group enterprises and not physical persons. This is of capital importance, because the fact that this is forgotten, is a major reason for confusion.
ASSOCIATIONS FOR GENERAL PURPOSE
These employers' associations or rather these associations of enterprises are professional or interprofessional in so far as their members belong to the same ranch of activity or to different branches of activity in the same economic sector.
All these groups are organizations of study and representation: study of economic, social and fiscal problems which interest their members; representation towards others. But they are distinguishable by the function they carry on and the responsibility they take in respect to their members. Some groups never engage the responsibility of their members. These latter receive information, advice, even pressure, but any decision is left to the enterprises. These groups represent their members in dealing with the government and public opinion, but they will refuse to carry out collective action with labour unions.
Some of these associations have at their service an expert in labour relations that they put at the disposition of their members in order to help them solve their individual problems.
There still remains the fact that generally in this type of group no enterprise is obliged to follow the policy adopted and each one remains free in its attitudes.
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS (EMPLOYERS' UNIONS)
These are groups of enterprises belonging to the same branch of activity; they have as objective the supplying to their members of economic, legal, fiscal and technical information as well as representing them in dealings with the government, the public and labour unions.
They act in labour relations and exercise a collective action. They are not satisfied to give advice but some decisions taken by the group engage the members.
The employers’ unions because of their function in the collective negotiations have more or less extensive membership but do not take in large enterprises as these, by themselves, already form distinct bargaining units. In many cases, the size of the employers' union and the limits of its organization depend on the labor union affiliation in the enterprises which it groups.
We have hinted a while ago that, among the true employers' groups, there was a type which had as members, not enterprises but physical persons. This is what is designated under the name of employer movement.
This type of association exists in various countries for many years but in our country it is quite new. At the present time, it may be said that there are two of them and they claim inspiration from the Catholic Social Doctrine.
The employers' movement directly groups persons, and any person exercising management functions. They do not act there as representatives of their company, but as individuals interested in management functions.
The employers' movement, in order to reach more easily its objective, has technical and social education services as well as labour relations departments. These services placed at the disposition of the employer exercise only as a complementary function. They do not attempt to replace those which already exist and which are effective in other associations.
We believe that it would be opportune to introduce, as soon as possible, some systemization in order to avoid a dispersal of effort and resources as well as to put a little order into our society.
This is surely a long-term project which will not perhaps lead to completely satisfactory results. We hope, however, that this attempt at classification will contribute to throw a little more light on this and dissipate the confusion which only keeps up misunderstandings, causing prejudice to everyone.
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DION, GÉRARD, licencié en théologie, licencié en philosophie, M.Sc.Soc. directeur-adjoint du Département des relations industrielles; conseiller moral des associations patronales; membre de la Commission Sacerdotale d'Etudes Sociales.