Test Your Knowledge
- Identify some of the main reasons why workplace disputes occur
- Disagreements during the negotiations of a new agreement
- Managerial policies. Employees may dispute a new policy or process being established as it may change work practices.
- Issues around job security. For example, disputes may arise during a restructure that leads to some form of redundancy in the business.
- Treatment from supervisors/managers/other employees. Employees may feel they have been treated unfairly or in a harsh manner from another employee or a supervisor
- Health and safety issues
- Explain what is meant by industrial action. Identify one form of industrial action that employees can take
- Define ‘grievance procedure’
- Compare mediation and arbitration
- Bright Signs is a commercial signage business that currently has 30 employees. It has been in negotiations for a new wage agreement for more than 12 months. After a series of industrial actions from both the employee union and the employer, negotiations have completely broken down.
Discuss one dispute resolution method that Bright Signs could use to overcome this dispute (4 marks)
Industrial action is a form of protest taken by the employees or the employer to settle a workplace dispute. Industrial action can be classed as ‘protected industrial action’ because it has been approved by the Fair Work Commission. Action that has not been approved by the Fair Work Commission is known as ‘unprotected industrial action. One form of industrial action is a strike, where employees remove themselves from work for a period of time.
A grievance procedure is a formalised process on how an individual can have a workplace dispute resolved.
Mediation and arbitration are both methods that can be used to resolve a workplace dispute. Mediation is where an independent third party helps facilitate the conversation between the two disputing parties. Whereas, arbitration is where an independent third party hears the views of both parties and makes the final decision for them. They are both similar in that they both use an independent third party during the process. However the role of the third party differs between the two. With mediation the independent third party only facilitates the conversation and does not offer advice or make any final decision towards a resolution. However, the third party in arbitration has will be involved in the final solution as they make the final decision on the resolution of the dispute. Another difference is the with mediation, the disputing parties come to their own agreement, however it is the independent third party that makes the final decision during arbitration.
The most appropriate method for Bright Signs to implement would be arbitration. Arbitration is where an independent third party, such as the Fair Work Commission, hears both arguments of the dispute and makes a binding decision on the resolution to the dispute. Arbitration is most appropriate for Bright Signs because they are unable to come to their own agreement. Taking the final decision out of the hands of Bright Signs and the employee representatives, will ensure that a resolution is made in a timely manner. Because this decision will be binding, it ensures the employees will get back to work being productive and will put a stop to the industrial action that has been occurring. Implementing arbitration does come with risks however. Having the final decision taken out of their hands, could result in the employees or Bright Signs being unhappy with the final outcome. It can also be an expensive process to be involved in. However, despite the drawbacks, it is most appropriate in this scenario because the negotiations have broken down and the two parties are unable to come to an agreement. Arbitration will ensure a final outcome is decided upon so they can leave the dispute behind them.