The Features Of Industrial Social Work

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Social work developed as a service to the people. The International Federation of Social Workers defines social work as a practice based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Industrial social work is an area of service delivery in the industries and in addition in social work activities. Industrial social work is influenced by a number factors such as the cultural, historical and socio- economic factors. It is understood to be the application of social work methods and skills in the industrial setting. Since its development and provision industrial social work has improved the work setting and production levels in different industries.

Industrial Social Work is also referred to as occupational social work. According to Terblanche (1989;241) “industrial social work is the rendering of social services to the employee within the context of his role as employee, member of the community with the objective and aim to improve his functioning as an employee”. This focus on how the social work methods are applied in industries with the purpose of improving the employee’s ability to cope. The practice has important implications in the industry. It generally improves the working condition, production and employee, employer relations. Industrial social work has positive outcomes. It is different from Labour Welfare which focuses on the voluntary efforts that done by the employer in the work place to improve employees working conditions than what is expected by the law.

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The development of occupational social work is influenced by different historical, socio economic and cultural factors in a particular timeframe. The development of the practice in India is traced to the origins of social work through religious teachings that emphasises virtues such as charity and assisting the needy and those in need (Bannerjee 1960). These virtues are embodied in the very structures of different cultural background. The practice is a direct result of industrialisation and the composition of the different labour forces.

The historical perspective that looks at the development of industrial social work shows how the practice emerged in different countries influenced by the socio economic and cultural and historic factors. The practice arose out of the social problems in the industries resulting from an individual work situation and their failure to adapt. According to Saini (1975) defines industrial social work as a systematic way of helping individuals and groups towards a better adaptation to work situations. The concept of occupational social work have social change as a component. There is need to improve the social settings and working conditions in the industries.

Industrial social work is a specialized field of social work practice, addressing human and social needs in the work place to ensure maximum productivity It is an area of service delivery. According to Weiner 1963 “the professional role of the social worker in the worId of work should be restricted to individual direct services. The responsibilities of the social worker in industrial organisations are particularly oriented to handling problems of industrial workers such as absenteeism, alcoholism etc. According to the Dortmund reports social work in the industry has the aim to help any individual or group to adapt in the work situation and meet the work requirements, stimulate management to adapt the work situation to the social needs of the employees to assist the work community as a whole to function better.

The origins and development of social work in the industries is dated back to the 19th Century to the 20th century. Different key events such as the Industrial Revolution, The World Wars 1 and 2, The European Seminar on Personnel Social Work led to the development of the practice. Social work that have its roots in the early 18th century as a way of healing the needy employees. The industrial revolution contributed to the emergence of social work in industries. The revolution had an impact in the industrial production in England. There were radicle changes in industrial set up and this caused the social and economic problems to develop such as the poor working conditions, many workers lived in poverty. The social conditions of the industrial worker needed immediate action to address the different social problems such as child employment.

Both the first and second War led to the development of industrial social work in Europe. This a time that was related to the welfare of the employees. The concept of social work in Britain did not exist. Social welfare activities started during the 1890-1913. Particularily The Second War led to the dislocation in industries and unemployment problems. This contributed to the need of a social worker in the field. Before 1960 only a few industrial social workers were practicing in the field. The profession itself and the schools of social work took the practice more serious. There was the establishing of different centres and schools such as the The Industrial Social Welfare Centre at Columbia University.

The Hawthorne Works in Chicago contributed in the development of occupational social work. The idea was that if employees were satisfied with their work situation, work performance would improve and there would be more production. The experiments contributed in the introduction of social legislation in different areas such as health, social insurances, safety. The concepts of Industrial social services were integrated into the national social policy. Social work maintained a link between the management, labour and the community resources such as community councils, boards and national fund raising drives (Dsai and Dole 1979).

The European Seminar on the personnel social work in 1961 also had its contribution in the development of occupational social work. This was done to see the different approaches in which a personnel social work develops. Reports from these study formed the basis in the development of Industrail social Work. These reports also included that “the concept of personnel social work should be embodied in the personnel policy of the enterprise, regardless of whether the function is part of the organisational structure of the enterprise or is carried out by an outside agency.”(U.N. 1961).

Industrial social work also developed as a result of 1976 Council of Social Work Education meeting in May 1976. The meeting focused on the implication of future development in the field social work in industry. Social work practioners, educators, representatives of organized were present in the meeting. Another meeting that contributed in the development of industrial social work was in June 1978, were social work practitioners from the US and Canada gave the conclusion that social work in industries was promising and equally suited to the labour and industrial setting.

Industrial social work is a young discipline and it is still going development. Industrial social work has assisted India in developing originated from the recommendations of the Royal labour commission, (1931) which recommended the appointment of a labour officer to look after the interests of labour. The emergence of the concept of labour welfare officer was first seen in the cotton textile mills and in the jute industry in the 1930's. The concept of welfare work in Industry at this stage was influenced by statutory requirements and this led to addressing of all sorts of employees grievances. The place of the social worker in Indian industry is within the administrative purview of the personnel and labour welfare department as this department is primarily concerned with the welfare of the operative employees (Desai and Dole, 1979).

The impact and consequences of World War I and the Second World War, the industrial growth in the country during the period from 1914-1939 had its ups and downs. The Royal Commission on Labour, which submitted its report in 1931, had given a coherent picture of the pattern and problems of industrial development in India. The two World Wars had greatly helped India achieve a more accelerated tempo of industrial development, deriving substantial support from the industrial policy of the Government of India. Looking back the area of industrial development started after the Indian Independence and with the beginning of the planning era in the early 1950s. The industrial growth in India in keeping with the demands of the industry, there was simultaneous development of the personnel function in industry.

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