Collective bargaining is the process whereby the union representative on behalf of the employees and management, negotiate the terms of their agreement which are incorporated in the employees’ contract of employment. It is a means to reach an agreement between trade unions and employers.
The Role/Function of the Trade Union
1. To ensure better wages and working conditions for workers
2. To protect workers against arbitrary disciplinary actions.
3. To deal with grievances in accordance with the grievance procedures
The Grievance Procedure
A grievance is a complaint of a worker. A worker will have a complaint when:
a. he is treated unfairly. (e.g. cases of discrimination)
b. his health or safety is threatened (e.g. chemicals and dust at work etc)
c. there is a violation of the collective agreement or work rules. (e.g. if employers have not abided by the agreement between management and the trade union.)
The grievance procedure is a set of steps which employees can use to solve any grievance that may arise.
STEP 1 – The employee discusses the complaint with his or her supervisor. If the complaint is not satisfactorily dealt with by the supervisor the employee may take the matter further.
STEP 2 – The employee will discuss the matter with the head of department.
STEP 3 – The employee, along with the union delegate, will discuss the matter with top management.
STEP 4 – If the grievance still exists, the union official will seek conciliation or mediation from the Ministry of Labour or any independent body, i.e. the friendly intervention of these bodies into the dispute for the purpose of adjusting the differences.
STEP 5 – The matter is sent to arbitration, i.e. before the court where the judge will make the final decision. Therefore both parties; employer and employee must accept the judges decision.