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Handling ‘Grievance’ under NAECI contract

Handling various claims such as individual or collective grievances, including disciplinary issues, through the NAECI Procedure can be a rather complex and lengthy process. 

Having a formal, written grievance procedure is paramount to successful industrial relationship management on all construction and maintenance sites in the UK. All ECIA members are required to have a procedure in place and this must be consistent with the NAECI procedure as set in Section 14. This ensures transparency and fairness in the process of grievance for all parties involved. Members are often overwhelmed with the complexity of the process and often lack management with experience or expertise in handling discussions with the trade unions, particularly full-time union officers.  Getting anything wrong at the initial stage could result in an adverse finding further down the procedural route and could even result in an Employment Tribunal. 

There are 4 stages of the grievance procedure described in detail in Section 14 of the NAECI agreement and members are strongly advised to get involved with ECIA at the point when the dispute starts to avoid the grievance progressing to the second stage and to maintain a consistent line of argument through the various stages of the procedure.

At Stage 1 the matter may be raised by the shop steward(s) or, in the absence of a steward, by the local full-time trade union officer. It is therefore important that management is well prepared with the right arguments for the meeting, before which the ECIA Regional Manager can give sound advice.

Should an issue or grievance result in a union request for a stage 2 meeting, ECIA is automatically involved. The ECIA Regional Manager who is dedicated to the appropriate location in the UK can ensure that a properly recorded stage 1 meeting has taken place and will make the arrangements for holding stage 2 with the union(s) in question. At this meeting, the Regional Manager chairs the member company and conducts the meeting on its behalf. This is very helpful since ECIA is able to argue from a detached position. Its expert knowledge of NAECI is, therefore, able to shield management from disputes by the unions. 

In the event of a failure to agree at stage 2 the matter may be pursued by the union(s) to the stage 4 Dispute Adjudication Panel (stage 3 is rarely used). Stage 4 meetings are held at a national level, with a panel of employer and trade union representatives reaching a final binding decision. It is therefore vital that ECIA, who will draw up the company’s arguments for them and represent them at the hearing, has been fully involved during the earlier procedural stages.