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An Evaluation of role of industrial union in managing employee grievances in the organization a case study of ministry of works in Enugu State

Abstract

This study was on an evaluation of role of industrial union in managing employee grievances in the organization. The total population for the study is 200 staff of ministry of works in Enugu state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made up directors, administrative staff, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

 Chapter one

Introduction

  • Background of the study

Nigerian Labour Law defines the INDUSTRIAL UNION any combination whether temporary or permanent, the principal objectives of which under its constitution are the regulation of the relations between workmen and workmen or between masters and masters or the imposing of restrictive condition on the conduct of any trade or business and the provision of benefit to members (cited in Fajana, 1995: 132).  This definition would be seen to incorporate a large variety of organizations and groups under industrial union. Another definition of the concept regards it as, an association of wage or salary earners formed with the object of safe guarding and improving the wage and employment conditions of its members and to raise members’ social status and standards of living in the community (Fajana, 2000).

The preceding definition emphasizes on the purchase of labour power as a factor of production. Industrial union is here differentiated from other organizations or associations by the emphasis on the pursuit of better improved condition of service for members. Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1920) offer the following definitions of industrial union: A continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the condition of their working lives. This definition emphasizes the dynamic essence of industrial union being a continuous association of wage earners. However, it may be seen as to narrow since industrial unions are not merely concerned with the improvement of working condition.

Beanc (1985) maintained that industrial union is best described as institutional representation of worker’s interest both within the labour movement and in wider society and they accentuate the collective rather than the individual power resources of employers. The radical school of thought gives a contrasting definition of the concept. Industrial union is defined as the conveyor belt of the workers desire to put an end  to wage slavery and radically transform the society (Hyman, 1971). This definition conceives industrial union as representing the means of actualizing the impeding working class revolution which in the Marxian thought is inevitable in every capitalist society.

The various definitions provided here reflect on the role of industrial union in the society which include among others

–     checking the excesses of employers;

–     forum for actualizing the revolutionary potential of labour;

–     defend members’ interest against management action or misdeeds;

–     resistance against capitalist domination;

–     providing an opportunity for workers to be equal partners to management;

–     providing workers with a measure of collective strength;

–     vehicle of revolutionary social change. Many questions have been asked as to the role of industrial unions.

A number of such roles can be identified. First, is to improve the bargaining strength of the worker’s vis some vis the employer. This is achievable through regular consultation with the employer and management on issues relating to the terms of employment and general working condition of the workers. Secondly, is to protect workers from humiliating job especially with regards to the treatment of workers by the management. Industrial unions achieve this goal through rising to the defense of the workers whenever management policy tends to degrade their condition. Thirdly, the union provide collective identity to workers while at the same time representing a forum of collective bargaining for workers. Fourthly, industrial union act to influence government on programmes concerning workers. As worker’s representatives, industrial union becomes a virile pressure group in advancing the interests of members both within the workplace and in the larger society.

Lastly, industrial union perform social objective in cooperating with other elements the society  in promoting social and economic development and advancement of the community.  The research therefore seeks to evaluate the role of industrial union in managing employee grievances

1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

A conducive and harmonious work place environment is the bedrock of employee productivity and organizational progress. However, achieving this is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee. Recent trends show that industrial conflict between management and the employee is a recurring phenomenon arising from a number of factors of employee grievance not addressed by the management the most common types of employee and workplace grievances include Pay and Benefits: This is the most common area of employee complaints and grievances. These grievances may involve the amount and qualifications for pay increases, pay equity for comparable work within the organization, and the cost and coverage of benefit programs. Workloads: Heavy workloads are a common employee and workplace grievance. If you work for a company that is going through lean times, you may have been asked to take on more work without a pay increase. Perhaps your employer decides not to fill a vacant position and instead assigns additional work to you and your colleagues. Such situations lead to employee frustration and dissatisfaction.

Work Conditions: A safe and clean work environment is crucial to employee satisfaction and motivation. Extensive state and federal regulations protect worker health and safety. Employees who believe a company is not following applicable regulations and guidelines may decide to file a grievance. Union and Management Relations: When unions represent employees, both the union and management must avoid unfair labor practices. These illegal acts involve threatening or coercive behavior by either party designed to obtain an employee’s loyalty or cooperation. The National Labor Relations Act specifies unlawful activities for employers and unions. For example, employers cannot threaten employees with termination if they vote for a union. Employees may file grievances when they experience unfair labor practices. Businesses need effective policies and procedures to resolve the different types of employee grievances. Some employees will use grievance procedures just to express frustration, while others will file a grievance to influence future contract negotiations or protest unlawful practices. In all cases, managers should strive for the most effective possible resolution. The role of the union is imperative in providing effective representation for the worker in addressing issues with management through collective bargaining for improved worker condition. Therefore, the problem confronting this research is to determine the role of industrial union in managing employee grievances in the organization

1.4     OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The objectives of the study are;

  1. To determine the nature of employee grievances
  2. To determine the causes and effect of employee grievances
  3. To determine the nature and role of industrial union in managing employee grievance in the Enugu state civil service

Research hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

H0:   there is no nature and role of industrial union in managing employee grievance

H1: there is nature and role of industrial union in managing employee grievance.

H02: there are no causes and effect of employee grievances

H2: there are causes and effect of employee grievances

Significance of the study

The research shall proffer a structural appraisal of the role of industrial union in managing Employee grievance in the organization It shall serve as a veritable source of information to managers, union leaders and other professional in industrial relation.

Scope and limitation of the study

The scope of the study covers an evaluation of role of industrial union in managing employee grievances in the organization a case study of ministry of works in Enugu State Civil Service. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

  1. a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

INDUSTRIAL UNION DEFINED: An association of wage or salary earners formed with the object of safe guarding and improving the wage and employment conditions of its members and to raise members’ social status and standards of living in the community (Fajana, 2000).

EMPLOYEE GRIEVANCE DEFINED What can employees do when they are dissatisfied with the terms or conditions of their employment? Have you ever worked for an employer who you believed did not meet the terms of your employment contract? Perhaps you were not fully compensated for your work or you experienced unsafe work conditions. In this situation you may wish to file a formal complaint against your employer. This is known as an employee grievance.

WILDCAT STRIKE: This form of strike is in violation of contract and not authorized by the union because no reason or notice is given to employer before embarking on it.

SIT-DOWN STRIKE: This is type of strike involve workers being present at work but literally not working.

CONSTITUTIONAL STRIKE: This refers to actions that conform to the due procedure of the collective agreement. The agreement usually specifies the time and the procedure for conducting a strike by the workers.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL STRIKES: This is a strike action that does not conform to the provisions of the collective agreements or the relevant public policies.

UNOFFICIAL STRIKE: This type of strike is usually unauthorized by the union leadership. This happens because the memberships have lost confidence in the leaders and are therefore willing to exert direct pressure on the employer without the authorization of leaders.

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