Industrial harmony has been viewed as an abstract concept. It is ideal and its existence is not felt in most organizations, as they are unstable and chaotic, resulting in tense working environment. This has been shown by the fact that most employers tend to believe they are the only ones who can be wronged. They overlook the fact that some of their practices could compromise relations with their employees. Management’s focus has been on the disciplinary matters as a way of setting the tone of labour relations. In as much as the disciplinary aspect is essential, so is the grievance resolution aspect of managing relationships at the workplace. The labour relationship, as it exists has its own expectations that can either be fulfilled or ignored. Such a scenario brings out clearly that each party in the labour relationship is bound to be dissatisfied. It is therefore imperative that the grievance management system in any workplace be seriously and properly handled as it impacts greatly on the industrial harmony. The chapter covers the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, significance of the study, assumptions, definition of terms, scope of study and limitations. 1. Background of Study
Sino-Zimbabwe Cement Company (SZCC) is a joint venture between China Building Materials Corporation (CBMC) of China and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of Zimbabwe. It is a well established cement manufacturing organization. The plant started operating in 2001. As has been noted about the organization’s commencement, it has to be realized that the organization is still in its infancy stage, hence a lot of loop holes have been picked out pertaining to industrial harmony. It has been noted that the language difference also affect the relaying of grievances to superiors, especially in a situation where the strategic and influential positions are occupied by the Chinese people. For example the General Manager-Finance and Managing Director are Chinese. It has been noted that most grievances which employees might have are linked to unfair distribution of salaries and benefits between the Chinese and the Zimbabweans. The life styles of the two partners are also different as the Chinese staff has a village near the workplace where they stay and have everything provided for them, they have no rental and grocery expenses making it difficult to reach a compromise for the other partner’s benefit in salary negotiations. It also has to be noted that the Chinese people are generally hard workers, they are more concerned about productivity more than anything. This kind of situation has made employees grievances not addressed thoroughly, Chinese people believe in management prerogative. Weber in Hughes et.al (2003) asserts that work within the organization is subject to rules, as those who subordinate to it are bound by administrations of the code of conduct. In this context the confrontational or robust approach gives way to management’s prerogative to run their companies. Relations seem to suggest management’s supremacy and employees’ inferiority. Such a scenario has brought about an imbalance at Sino Zimbabwe Cement Company and has led to a breakdown of industrial harmony. Decenzo et.al (1999) argues that historically the relationship between management and labour is built on conflict. The interest of labour and management is basically seen as being at odds, each treating the other as opposition. However times are changing employees need to be involved in the running of an organization in an effort to increase productivity, improve quality and lower costs. Through employee involvement, a platform should be availed for employees to air their grievances. Similarly some unions have come to recognize that they can help their members more by cooperating with management rather than fighting them. It has been realized that...
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