The Grievance Procedure explained in plain english
By Justin Power, Assistant Secretary
The grievance or disputes procedure is an agreed formula between your employer and the SDA by which members can raise their individual concern/s, discuss it and reach a satisfactory outcome. All SDA Enterprise Agreements and Awards contain a grievance procedure which generally include the following steps:
Step 1. The member notifies his or her immediate line manager/department manager/supervisor of their concern/problem. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved, proceed to Step 2.
Step 2. The matter is elevated to the next level of management. It’s at this level that the member is assisted by the support and representation of a Shop Steward or Delegate. If the workplace has no Shop Steward or Delegate, the member should request the assistance of their SDA Organiser. If the matter is still not resolved at the store manager level, proceed to Step 3.
Step 3. If the workplace has a Shop Steward or Delegate and the matter is still not resolved, the SDA Organiser will become involved at the workplace level. If the matter is still not resolved at the Organiser level, the issue is escalated to Step 4.
Step 4. The SDA Organiser will take the matter up with a higher level within the company. This level usually involves a combination of an Area Manager and the Human Resources/Relations department. If the matter is still not resolved at this level, proceed to Step 5.
Step 5. The SDA Organiser passes the matter to the SDA Industrial Officers who will then raise the matter with the higher levels of the company. This step may involve a combination of the company’s state and national offices. If the grievance is still not resolved at this level, the issue is escalated to the final stage of the grievance procedure, Step 6.
Step 6. The SDA Industrial Officers will consult with the SDA Branch Secretary, Chris Gazenbeek, and determine whether an industrial case should proceed to the Fair Work Commission. A Fair Work Commissioner will then hear the merits of the case and if the matter is still not resolved, the Fair Work Commissioner may finally arbitrate on the matter.
Important points to remember
- This whole process is FREE for SDA members. Non-members have to fight their own battles.
- The SDA strongly advises all members to seek advice and guidance from your Shop Steward, Delegate or call the union office and speak to one of the SDA Information Officers before Step 1 of the grievance procedure.
- During Step 1, it is important to inform the company that you are invoking the grievance procedure. Using these exact words is not essential but you need to inform the company of the seriousness of your issue/s.
- Once the grievance procedure is invoked, the status quo is maintained in most Enterprise Agreements. For example, once a member invokes the grievance procedure over a roster issue, the roster cannot be changed until the matter is finally resolved.
- The vast majority of issues are usually resolved at Step 1 or Step 2.
- If the issue concerns the behaviour of, for example, your line manager, the first step would be to raise your concern with the store manager.
- At any stage of the grievance procedure, members can seek advice and guidance from their Shop Steward, Delegate or the union office. The SDA is only a phone call or an email away.
- If something is not right with you or at your workplace, you have every right to raise the matter as a grievance. Nothing will change for the better if the issue is never addressed through the grievance procedure. Turning a blind eye, walking away or resigning ultimately achieves absolutely nothing.
- Speaking up can be so powerful. Members often tell me that when they have used the grievance procedure, they feel so good. They quickly realise that the procedure is not as scary as they first thought. Because they have been involved in the process and reached a satisfactory outcome, they are confident to speak up in the future if they believe they are being treated harshly.
Remember, as an SDA member, you are not alone!