Introduction | Objectives | Employee representation | Victimisation / coercion | Collective bargaining | Communication and consultation | Grievance resolution | Discipline | Poor performance | Employee relations training

  1. Introduction
    1. Employee relations may be defined as those policies and practices which are concerned with the management and regulation of relationships between the organisation, the individual staff member, and groups of staff within the working environment.
    2. In 1986 an advisory committee, the Industrial Relations Management Committee (IRMC) was constituted by Council to consider all matters related to current and future industrial relations at the University. In 1998 this Committee changed its name to the Employee Relations Management Committee (ERMC). In 2000 the committee was again reconstituted as the Labour Relations Management Committee (LRMC). The LRMC is advisory to the Vice-Chancellor, and through the Vice-Chancellor to Council and Council's sub-committee on remuneration. Consequent to the AIMS recommendations and with respect to HR and the subsequent restructuring process, from the beginning of 2002, the LRMC was renamed the Employee Relations Management Committee (ERMC).
    3. The membership of the ERMC is determined by GPC from time to time. Current membership is included in the membership of committees booklet, which is published bi-annually.
    4. The employee relations section of the Human Resources Department is responsible for liaison with employee representative bodies, monitoring procedures, and developing proposals for the ERMC's consideration.
  2. Objectives
    1. Sound employee relations are based on
      • effective mechanisms for communication and participation.
      • a safe and effective work environment.
      • commitment and motivation of all staff.
    2. Accordingly, the University's policies and practice are aimed at
      • promoting channels of communication at all levels.
      • identifying and expanding common areas of interest between all staff.
      • anticipating and defusing conflict wherever possible.
      • encouraging staff to articulate concerns and conflict and seek resolution of underlying issues.
      • providing channels for conflict resolution and developing mutual trust in their reliability.
  3. Employee representation
    1. The University Council recognises the principle of freedom of association.
    2. Where staff members choose to have a trade union represent them, the University will make arrangements for recognition, collective bargaining and dispute resolution.
    3. All staff members have the right to join the representative body of their choice, but this does not mean that the University will recognise all such bodies for collective bargaining or other purposes. Moreover, while acknowledging that the membership policy of the representative body is the prerogative of its members, the University is committed to maintaining non-racial conditions of employment.
    4. Staff members have the right not to belong to a representative body. The University Council will not therefore agree to membership of a representative body becoming a condition of service or appointment.
    5. At present there are three staff bodies which are recognised unions
      1. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) representing, at present, all administrative and support staff in payclasses 1 - 5.
      2. The UCT Employees' Union representing, at present, all staff in payclasses 6 - 12, excluding certain management positions.
      3. The Academics' Union representing, at present, all academic staff.
  4. Victimisation / coercion
    1. No staff member shall be victimised by University management as a result of his/her membership of a representative body.
    2. University management will seek to protect staff members from being coerced into membership of any association against their wishes, or from being coerced in any way as a result of their non-membership of any association.
  5. Collective bargaining
    1. The University Council will recognise a representative body for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of staff members in a defined common interest group (the bargaining unit) where the majority of staff members in the bargaining unit demonstrate their wish to have that body represent them.
    2. Such recognition shall be formalised in a recognition (or procedural) agreement with the representative body. This agreement shall include details of the following:
      1. The bargaining unit - definition of the common interest group.
      2. Procedures - how negotiations, disputes, grievances, disciplinary matters etc. will be handled. Recognition and procedural agreements between the University and the NEHAWU, the recognition agreement was revoked in 1999 and a new recognition agreement concluded in 2000. Recognition and procedural agreements between the University and the UCT Employees' Union were signed in 1986 and 1991 respectively. Recognition and procedural agreements between the University and the Academics' Union were signed in 2010.
  6. Communication and consultation

    The University Council recognises the importance of open communication and joint consultation between management and staff. It therefore encourages the exchange of information, ideas and views about matters of mutual interest and concern through both formal and informal channels.

    1. Informal systems

      The University Council encourages informal communication and consultation at all levels. Department and section heads are encouraged to develop appropriate arrangements to promote discussion of any matters of interest and concern at the workplace.

    2. Consultative committees

      Where a recognition agreement has been entered into, the administration will arrange regular consultative committee meetings between Human Resources Department staff and other key members of management and the union. The role of the consultative committees is to provide a formal channel of communication between management and employee representative bodies. In particular, management will seek staff members' views prior to taking decisions affecting their interests. In the same way, staff members bring their issues of concern to the attention of management.

      The University administration and employee representative bodies are free to initiate agenda items.

  7. Grievance resolution

    The University Council considers it essential that, where a staff member (or a group of staff members) is dissatisfied for any reason arising from the work situation or employment relationship, this should be articulated and resolved as quickly as possible, at the lowest possible level.

    A procedure for addressing grievances has been agreed with the NEHAWU, the UCT Employees' Union and the Academics' Union.

    See: Grievance procedures for academic and PASS staff.

  8. Discipline

    A staff member is required to maintain certain standards of conduct. Any staff member who fails to maintain acceptable standards of conduct in accordance with his/her employment contract, specific position requirements and/or the University's rules, renders himself/herself liable to disciplinary action. Such disciplinary action is designed to be corrective and to improve conduct (other than where dismissal is warranted) and should be taken as soon as possible after the event.

  9. Poor performance

    A staff member is required to maintain certain standards of performance. A staff member who fails to maintain laid-down standards of performance in accordance with his/her employment contract, specific position requirements and/or the University's rules, renders himself/herself liable to corrective action.

  10. Employee relations training

    The University provides staff training to promote informed and sound employee relations practices.

    1. Staff induction course

      Induction courses and refresher training sessions are provided to ensure that staff are familiar with the University's policies and procedures.
      See the staff learning programme for more details.

    2. Management/supervisory training

      Staff who manage others are provided with training in the skills necessary to give effect to the University's policies (eg. communicating and consulting).
      See the staff learning programme for more details.

Page last updated: 20 January 2014