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As we all know, an organization is a system of rules, policies and procedures guiding behaviour at work. Those rules serve as standards, which, if observed, should guide the organization to the attainment of it's objectives. It is the duty of management, therefore, to ensure that in their day-to-day activities, human resources at work operate within the confines of laid down rules. Deviation from set rules usually attract corrective measures; and where such measures are not heeded, discipline is enforced. Discipline can also be directly invoked where a breach of rule is considered to be severe, as in the case of fighting or stealing.
Since the power to hire and fire rests mainly with the employer, the employee-employer relationship is often deemed to favour the employer at the expense of the employee. To counter the imbalance and forestall management's arbitrary use of authority, employees often get together and form unions as the mechanism for protecting individual and collective interests at work.
Thus, it is common for unions to negotiate the terms of employment of their members and to discuss with management the general issues that can impact positively on the organization as a whole and on the union members in particular.
But inspite of the moderating influence of unions in organizations, discipline must still be enforced as and when necessary. Indeed, most unions are not opposed to discipline but insist that its implementation be seen to be fair, impartial and consistent.
While the employer has the authority to discipline, the employee on his part has the right to initiate a grievance process for the purpose of seeking redress against perceived injustices at work. The grievance process usually follows previously laid down procedures that are acceptable to both the union and management.
Typically, .an aggrieved employee complains to his union representative who with him discusses the grievance with the employees's supervisor. In some cases, the grievance is resolved at that level. Where it persists, higher levels of management are formally approached with the grievance. Again, a solution could be found at any of the levels; but where every effort fails, the grievance is sent for external arbitration.