Grievances occur within any business and, if not resolved, may result in conflict, have a detrimental effect on production efficiencies, raise scandals on social media, and regularly result in findings during social (ethical) audits. Although it is of great importance that businesses have the correct systems and procedures whereby grievances and complaints can be raised and resolved effectively, it is also important that employees are comfortable, involved, and familiar with these procedures. The key to any successful grievance process or procedure is the ability to ensure confidentiality, trust, and adequate resolution to a particular issue.
In partnership with PROCARE, SIZA compiled and launched a training programme to build a foundation to create a more effective platform for raising grievances and equipping employees, supervisors, and managers within the business with the tools to resolve these grievances adequately.
The aim and purpose of this training are to establish an adequate foundation within each business to handle and manage grievances effectively. This foundation involves sharing information on how to notify management or appropriate third parties working with the senior management team of grievances and how to deal with said grievances. Furthermore, it highlights raising awareness on the rights of each role-player in the process and features practical examples on gender-based violence, dispute resolution, and effective communication through conflict management.
The project titled “When Grievance becomes a Good Practice in the Workplace” is currently being rolled out in various facilities to SIZA members across South Africa, and to date, almost 600 agri-workers from nine farming units across the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo attended and participated in the project.
A visit to each business entails a full day of training which is divided between different staff members (agri-workers), supervisors, and management. The training for agri-workers is a 4-hour session focusing on communication, conflict management, and utilisation of the grievance process to find solutions. The grievance process is redefined as a positive method to find solutions and not harm anyone. This is followed by a 2-hour session with supervisors/team managers to effectively empower them with the skills to deal with conflict situations and to hear and address their challenges. The day concludes with a session with management consisting of feedback and addressing challenges that management may experience in this regard.
Training is presented in a practical way, and visual material is used to ensure that everyone understands the information. There is also guidance material available after the training to allow agri-workers, supervisors, and managerial staff to refer to essential concepts and information.
A follow-up visit will be implemented once the training programme is completed in a specific area or fruit commodity group to ensure that the training and the new systems implemented according to training outcomes are working and successful. This also ties into the SIZA programme’s foundation of continuous improvement rather than a once-off evaluation.
Feedback from farms visited to date is positive and shows that the training sessions are successful.
Some comments from participants included:
- “The learning (session) for today was good and perfect. We learnt how to respect each other, to spit out any feelings. (We) learnt how the grievance process works and that conflict is normal to each and every individual, but we need to find a solution at the end.”
- “I learnt about grievances and how to respect my workmates and how to apologise.”
- “Today, I learnt about communication and grievance and listening and sexual harassment. I learnt a lot of things today. Don’t interrupt someone when he is speaking.”
- “I have learnt that in order to have a healthy working environment, we all need to work together in ensuring that our work environment is suitable for everyone, and communication is key.”
As one HR put it: “There is a definite difference in the way in which the grievance procedure is perceived by general workers. We are extremely grateful for the training programme”.
SIZA also wants to recognise Tesco and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, who support this programme and are valuable partners in the rollout of the programme. SIZA looks forward to implementing the programme at many more facilities across South Africa.
For more information, or if you would like to become part of this programme, please feel free to contact Retha Louw (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Werner van Dyk (email@example.com) at the SIZA office on (021) 852 8184.