Perceptions of employees regarding the effectiveness of trade unions in representing employees at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Ndlovu, Sandile Enocent.
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In the field of industrial relations there is a confusion of mixed views between researchers about the effectiveness of trade unions in representing employees. For example, Walters, (2011) argues that trade unions which are meant to effectively represent their members have been restricted in doing so due to their increased focus on politics instead of their original duties and responsibilities. As a result, there has been a rapid increase in the general perception that trade unions are not effective in representing employees. On the other hand, Bryson (2012) argues that trade unions are effective in representing employees, however the problem is that they are unable to pinpoint their success so that it can be translated into perceived benefits arising from the effectiveness of the trade union’s actions, and that this could account for the increase in the above general perception. There are many other challenges which are experienced by trade unions, which makes trade unions to be ineffective when representing employees. For example, Gumede (2012) argue that South African trade unions has lose their ability to function properly and effectively because of the unfavourable economic and labour market conditions that have created the daunting challenges for trade unions movement which are deeply rooted in the public sector and in the African National Congress (ANC). The other challenge is the onset of loss of trade unions members to such unions and in-fighting within trade unions (Gumede, 2012). This usually happens when there is more than one trade union which represent employees in a single workplace. The research problem for this study is the effectiveness of trade unions in representing employees. The primary aim of this study is to examine whether trade unions are effective in representing employees. The following tools were used to investigate the above-mentioned research problem. Descriptive research design was used in this study. Research objectives and research questions were developed to investigate the above-mentioned research problem. The questionnaires (both open-ended and closed-ended questionnaires were used as the main tool of collecting data. A probability sampling method was used to select UKZN employees for inclusion in the sample. This study used the mixed method research approach to critically analyse data. A thematic data analysis method was used to critically analyse data in this study. The findings of this study discovered that trade unions are effective in representing employees. Based on the research questions the findings of this study discovered that UKZN trade unions are effective in collective bargaining regarding salary increments and the protection of employees against unfair treatments such as discrimination. They always make it sure that UKZN employees get salary increments and protected against unfair treatments such as discrimination. In the absence of them employees might not be able to get salary increments and be protected against unfair treatments such as discrimination. UKZN employees need trade unions to represent and protect them. The findings discovered that UKZN trade unions are effective in handling employees’ grievances. UKZN Employees need trade unions to represent and protect them, without trade unions at UKZN things would be worse. The findings discovered that UKZN trade union representatives are effective in representing employees, they are beneficial to employees, they are also well trained and prepared to represent employees. Things would be worse in the absence of them in the workplace. The findings also discovered that there are challenges which are experienced by trade unions when representing employees. For example, the expertise or resource constraints, tight reins on trade union operation, political power which hinders trade unions progress, and bureaucracy, lack of funding and legal expertise etc. The findings discovered that these challenges affect trade unions as a result trade union maybe ineffective in doing their duties, but trade unions can address these challenges. The findings of this study have discovered that trade unions are effective in representing employees, and this is different from what was said in the research problem of this study. But there is also similarity from what was said in the research problem and findings of this study, as they both said that there are challenges which are experienced by trade unions when representing employees and they mentioned different challenges. They both argue that these challenges affect trade unions as a result trade union, may be ineffective in representing employees, but trade unions are able to address these challenges. The findings discovered that trade unions solve the challenges by studying the challenges, understand it and come up with solution to solve it, and they also give extra training to trade unions officials, so that they can have enough skills and knowledge to deal with any challenge that they experience.