Making investigations count
By Darryn Gaffy,
Senior Industrial Officer
As union officials, one of our main tasks is to investigate and hopefully resolve industrial issues. It is extremely important to ensure that these tasks are done in an efficient and productive manner. SDA members also have responsibilities in such matters. It is your responsibility to provide material facts that allow the complaint/issue to be ‘investigatable’.
To ensure an issue or complaint is investigated properly, you should follow these guiding principles:
- The allegation/issue should be set out in a clear, short outline;
- The allegation/issue should identify the behaviour or issue which if found to be substantiated, can then be found to be a fact upon which a decision can be made;
- The outline must answer Who, What, Where, When and How/How often?
- The outline should be set out in chronological order (provide key dates);
- Define one issue/behaviour per paragraph – this allows clarity;
- The outline should include dates and duration of issues;
- The outline should leave out emotions – you may detail what you feel about the situation in general but not overload the outline with emotions. (I know this can be difficult but please try);
- The outline should avoid reliance on rumours / gossip as the only real evidence is first-hand knowledge;
- The outline should avoid comments on actions or things others have done unless they relate to specific actions against you;
- The outline should be specific – avoid the use of general terms such as ‘often’ or ‘constantly’ – be more specific (e.g., rather than ‘he often yells at me’ say ‘he yells at me 3-4 times a day’).
The better the outline, the easier it is for whoever investigates the matter to understand your issues and make decisions based on facts.
Remember the SDA is here to help you but you also have a responsibility to ensure your issues are defined and factual – that way, not only are you helping your friendly union official, you’re also helping yourself!