Grievance: Handling, and Redressal Settlement Machinery

A grievance is any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice having connection with one’s employment situ­ation which is brought to the attention of management. Speaking broadly, a grievance is any dissatisfac­tion that adversely affects organizational relations and productivity. To understand what a grievance is, it is necessary to distinguish between dissatisfaction, complaint, and grievance.

  1. Dissatisfaction is anything that disturbs an employee, whether or not the unrest is expressed in words.
  2. Complaint is a spoken or written dissatisfaction brought to the attention of the supervisor or the shop steward.
  3. Grievance is a complaint that has been formally presented to a management representative or to a union official.

According to Michael Jucious, ‘grievance is any discontent or dissatisfaction whether expressed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with the company which an employee thinks, believes or even feels to be unfair, unjust or inequitable’.

In short, grievance is a state of dissatisfaction, expressed or unexpressed, written or unwritten, justified or unjustified, having connection with employment situation.


  1. A grievance refers to any form of discontent or dissatisfaction with any aspect of the organization.
  2. The dissatisfaction must arise out of employment and not due to personal or family problems.
  3. The discontent can arise out of real or imaginary reasons. When employees feel that injustice has been done to them, they have a grievance. The reason for such a feeling may be valid or invalid, legitimate or irrational, justifiable or ridiculous.
  4. The discontent may be voiced or unvoiced, but it must find expression in some form. However, discontent per se is not a grievance. Initially, the employee may complain orally or in writing. If this is not looked into promptly, the employee feels a sense of lack of justice. Now, the discontent grows and takes the shape of a grievance.
  5. Broadly speaking, thus, a grievance is traceable to be perceived as non-fulfillment of one’s expec­tations from the organization.


  1. Economic

Employees may demand for individual wage adjustments. They may feel that they are paid less when compared to others. For example, late bonus, payments, adjustments to overtime pay, perceived inequalities in treatment, claims for equal pay, and appeals against performance- related pay awards.

  1. Work environment

It may be undesirable or unsatisfactory conditions of work. For example, light, space, heat, or poor physical conditions of workplace, defective tools and equipment, poor quality of material, unfair rules, and lack of recognition.

  1. Supervision

It may be objections to the general methods of supervision related to the attitudes of the supervisor towards the employee such as perceived notions of bias, favouritism, nepotism, caste affiliations and regional feelings.

  1. Organizational change

Any change in the organizational policies can result in grievances. For example, the implementation of revised company policies or new working practices.

  1. Employee relations

Employees are unable to adjust with their colleagues, suffer from feelings of neglect and victimization and become an object of ridicule and humiliation, or other inter- employee disputes.

  1. Miscellaneous

These may be issues relating to certain violations in respect of promotions, safety methods, transfer, disciplinary rules, fines, granting leaves, medical facilities, etc.


The three methods for settlement of industrial disputes are as follows:

  1. Conciliation
  2. Arbitration
  3. Adjudication.

Failure of the employees and the employers to sort out their differences bilaterally leads to the emergence of industrial disputes. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 provides legalistic machinery for settlement of such disputes by involving the interference of a third party.

  1. Conciliation

In simple sense, conciliation means reconciliation of differences between persons. Conciliation refers to the process by which representatives of workers and employers are brought together before a third party with a view to persuading them to arrive at an agreement by mutual discussion between them. The alternative name which is used for conciliation is mediation. The third party may be one individual or a group of people.

Board of Conciliation

In case the conciliation officer fails to resolve the dispute between the disputants, under Section 5 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the appropriate government can appoint a Board of Conciliation. Thus, the Board of Conciliation is not a permanent institution like conciliation officer. It is an adhoc body consisting of a chairman and two or four other members nominated in equal numbers by the parties to the dispute.

The Board enjoys the powers of civil court. The Board admits disputes only referred to it by the government. It follows the same conciliation proceedings as is followed by the conciliation officer. The Board is expected to give its judgment within two months of the date on which the dispute was referred to it.

In India, appointment of the Board of Conciliation is rare for the settlement of disputes. In practice, settling disputes through a conciliation officer is more common and flexible.

  1. Arbitration

Arbitration is a process in which the conflicting parties agree to refer their dispute to a neutral third party known as ‘Arbitrator’. Arbitration differs from conciliation in the sense that in arbitration the arbitrator gives his judgment on a dispute while in conciliation, the conciliator disputing parties to reach at a decision.

The arbitrator does not enjoy any judicial powers. The arbitrator listens to the view points of the conflicting parties and then gives his decision which is binding on all the parties. The judgment on the dispute is sent to the government. The government publishes the judgment within 30 days of its submission and the same becomes enforceable after 30 days of its publication. In India, there are two types of arbitration: Voluntary and Compulsory.

Voluntary Arbitration

In voluntary arbitration both the conflicting parties appoint a neutral third party as arbitrator. The arbitrator acts only when the dispute is referred to him/her. With a view to promote voluntary arbitration, the Government of India has constituted a tripartite National Arbitration Promotion Board in July 1987, consisting of representatives of employees (trade employers and the Government. However, the voluntary arbitration could not be successful because the judgments given by it are not binding on the disputants. Yes, moral binding is exception to it.

Compulsory Arbitration

In compulsory arbitration, the government can force the disputing parties to go for compulsory arbitration. In other form, both the disputing parties can request the government to refer their dispute for arbitration. The judgment given by the arbitrator is binding on the parties of dispute.

  1. Adjudication

The ultimate legal remedy for the settlement of an unresolved dispute is its reference to adjudica­tion by the government. The government can refer the dispute to adjudication with or without the consent of the disputing parties. When the dispute is referred to adjudication with the consent of the disputing parties, it is called ‘voluntary adjudication.’ When the government herself refers the dis­pute to adjudication without consulting the concerned parties, it is known as ‘compulsory adjudication.

Adjudication of indus­trial disputes

  1. Labour Court
  2. Industrial Tribunal
  3. National Tribunal

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