The grievance procedure is a problem solving, dispute-settling machinery which has been set up following an agreement to that effect or an employee makes and processes his claim that there has been a violation of the labour agreement by the company.
The grievances settlement procedure is a device by which grievances are settled, generally to the satisfaction of the trade union or employees and the management. This procedure is an important part of labour relations. It is essential, whether a plant is an organized one or not. The grievance machinery enables a management to detect any defector flaws in the working conditions or in labour relations, and undertake suitable corrective measures. If good morale and a code of discipline are to be maintained, it is essential that the grievance procedure is worked honestly and without prejudice, failing which there is likely to be an explosion, and production schedules would be shattered and the morale of the employees would be irrelatively impaired. A grievance procedure is essential because it brings uniformity in the handling of grievances. It gives confidence to the worker, for if he does not get a fair deal, he knows what to do and whom to approach to ensure that he does get justice.
The adoption of the grievance handling procedure is essential for a variety of reasons. For example:
- Most grievances seriously disturb the employees. This may affect their morale, productivity and their willingness to co-operative with the organization. If an explosive situation develops, this can be promptly attended to if a grievance handling procedure is already in existence.
- It is not possible that all the complaints of the employee would be settled by first-line supervisors, for these supervisors may not have had a proper training for the purpose, and they may lack authority. Moreover, there may be personality conflicts and other causes as well.
- It serves as a check on the arbitrary action of the management because supervisors know that employees are likely to see to it that their protest does reach the higher management.
It serves an outlet for employee gripes, discontent and frustrations. It acts like a pressure valve on a steam boiler. The employees are entitled to legislative, executive and judicial protection and they get this protection from the Grievance Settlement, which also acts as a means of upward communication. The top management becomes increasingly aware of employee problems, expectations and frustrations. It becomes sensitive to their needs, and cares for their well-being. This is why the management, while formulating plans that might affect the employees- for example, plant expansion or modification, the installation of labour-saving devices, and so on, should take into consideration the impact that such plans might have on the employees.
The management has complete authority to operate the business as it sees fit-subject, of course, to its legal and moral obligations and the contracts it has entered into with its workers or their representative trade union. But if the trade union or the employees do not like the way the management functions, they can submit their grievances in accordance with the procedure laid down for that purpose.
A well-designed and a proper grievance procedure provides:
- A channel or avenue by which any aggrieved employee may present his grievance;
- A procedure which ensures that there will be a systematic handling of every grievance;
- A method by which an aggrieved employee can relieve his feelings of dissatisfaction with his job, working conditions, or with management; and
- A means of ensuring that there is some measures of promptness in the handling of the grievance.