Perceived effectiveness of trade unions in addressing employees’ grievances in the public sector in Swaziland.
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The study examined the perceived effectiveness of trade unions in addressing employees’ grievances within the public sector in Swaziland. The study explored employees’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness of trade unions in the four ministries by focusing on the viewpoints of the trade union officials, shop stewards and employees within the public sector. The sample was selected by using the stratified random sampling technique. Data was collected from the participants using semi-structured questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaire was administered to 211 public servants randomly selected from the ministries and semi-interviews were conducted with 3 trade union office bearers and 7 shop stewards or union representatives. Quantitative data was examined using descriptive and inferential statistics and the qualitative information was analysed using the thematic text analysis. The study discovered that employees’ perceptions were fairly positive regarding the effectiveness of trade unions in grievance handling. Evidently, instrumental orientation is the most popular reason for joining trade unions amongst employees. Within the political or ideological orientation employees revealed the presence of managerial hostility and attitude towards trade union membership. Employees perceived that the employer has great control over the grievance and disciplinary processes and policies. Employers abuse their power and are manipulative, thus taking unilateral decisions in some instances. The findings revealed that trade union representatives lacked resources, knowledge, competencies and skills for handling employees’ grievances. However, employees maintained that belonging to a trade union is beneficial, irrespective of the poor standard of their shop stewards’ knowledge on the grievance and disciplinary procedures. The study suggests that trade unions should consider the importance of managerial support of their roles; extensive training programmes for union representatives and awareness campaigns to sensitise employees regarding the functions of trade unions.