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Nine tips to help you manage and improve your relationship with your shop stewards

by , 02 July 2013
Shop stewards play an important part in workplace relations and you need to understand their role in the workplace. You need to develop and maintain a constructive working relationship with the union and especially with the union's shop stewards. Here are nine tips to manage and improve your relationship with shop stewards in your workplace.

A shop steward is a member of a trade union who's elected to represent employees in a workplace.

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, as an employer, you only have to recognise a shop steward for purposes of the law where:

  • The union concerned has majority representation in the workplace and
  • The shop steward has been properly elected in terms of the union's constitution and the Labour Relations Act.

A good working relationship with a shop steward in your workplace is crucial. Here's how you can build and manage this working relationship.

Manage and improve your relationship with your shop stewards using these nine tips

#1: Remember, shop stewards don't stop being employees once they're elected. They're still subject to all the rules and policies of the workplace.

#2: Make sure shop stewards act within the boundaries of their employment relationships with you and serve you in good faith.

#3: Grant your shop stewards reasonable time off during working hours to perform their duties. This time off should be fully paid.

#4: Be aware that the law will protect shop stewards in carrying out their functions – subject to certain limitations.

#5: Remember, certain forms of misconduct like damaging company property will merit disciplinary action against shop stewards even if they're acting in a representative capacity.

#6: Don't discipline shop stewards without informing and consulting their trade union first.

#7: Don't discriminate against employees for being shop stewards.

#8: Disclose all relevant information that'll allow shop stewards to perform their duties. The information requested must be relevant and serve the purposes of a shop steward's functions, collective bargaining and consultations with trade unions.

#9: Be aware that you can't prohibit an employee from becoming a member of a trade union or standing for election as a shop steward where the trade union has majority representation.

There you have it. Using these tips will help you manage and improve your relationship with shops stewards in your workplace.

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