Speak up, we can't hear you: Grievance resolution practices in small firms
Miller, J. (2012) Speak up, we can't hear you: Grievance resolution practices in small firms. In: Eurasian Business and Economics Society, Istanbul, Turkey, 24th - 26th May, 2012.
Publisher's URL: http://www.ebesweb.org/Conferences/EBES-2012-Confe...
It has been suggested that workers in small firms are unable to identify and voice grievances because this represents too great a threat to their position in a workplace, where trade union representation is unlikely (Moore and Read 2006). Workers are, as a result, more likely to use exit (Hirschman 1970) as a means of resolving workplace problems. It has also been held that small firms use high levels of informality when dealing with HRM issues (Ram 1991) and are ‘less likely to invest in formal HRM practices’ (Bartram 2005:142). This research compares grievance processing in two groups of small firms in the United Kingdom: veterinary practices and horse racing stables. Veterinary practices are non-union workplaces. However, veterinary nurses can turn for help to the industrial relations service of their professional body, the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA). By contrast, in racing stables the National Association of Stable Staff (NASS) is a trade union recognised for collective bargaining purposes which offers individual representation in workplace disputes. This paper presents data from the first phase of the research, namely the ways in which workers in SMEs use individual voice, through formal or informal channels, to resolve workplace grievances. The second stage of the research considers the degree to which workers use collective means to address workplace problems and will be reported later in 2012. Over a 12 month period from 2010-2011, it was found that both NASS and BVNA dealt with a wide variety of grievances, from a simple issue of notice pay to complex cases involving a worker trying to uphold a number of different employment rights. The research demonstrates that workers in these small firms regularly make use of a range of mechanisms to resolve workplace disputes.
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