Management of Employee Grievances in Nigerian Public Corporation


The essence of literature review in any academic research is to provide the researcher an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and this increases his understanding of the subject being studied for better definition of research scope focus on the subject of studied for better focus and as well provide evaluation guide on the subject of the study.

Essentially, this aspect rallies heavily on data and information relating to the subject matter contained in books, journals, scholarly publications, newspapers and various reports and seminar lecturers.

Consequently, the library provides ample and useful courses for this exercise. Also human achievement represented by personal knowledge in the area of study can be quite useful.



  1. Meaning and types of grievance
  2. Employees grievances in public corporation
  3. Causes of employee grievances
  4. Procedure for management of employee grievances
  5. Organizational incentives


       A grievance can be defined as the dissatisfaction of any employee or group of employees over and denial of a perceived right or interest to which the individual or group feels. Fashoyin (1980) it can also be defined as expressed disenchantment by an employee or group of employees over some management policies, which are considered unfavourable to the employee or group of employees.

According to dictionary, it is defined as a cause for complaint.

Accordingly, a grievance is any disagreement between an employer and an employee or group of employees in a work environment, that makes it very unconducive for both parties to co-relate in peace and harmony. It is also important to state that the law, the grievance must be corrected with the terms and conditions of employment or work of a person or group of persons. A grievance which arises between an employer and a trade union must have as its predominate purpose to their furtherance of the interest of the workers with regards to their employment conditions.


According to Nnabuife (1995) once an industry discontent or dissatisfaction has reached the stage of grievance, it can be classified into categories.

  1. Individual grievance
  2. Collective grievance

This is also attested to by Fashioning (1980) individual grievances could be traced it problems related to denial or breach of the right of an individual. It may emanate from denial of promotion, award of annual increment or non-implementation of individual conditions of service or even maltreatment by a supervisory officer. Care has to be exercised however because the roof of these individual grievances are not always easy to trace or pin point, because the Nigeria averment is largely stressed up, workers are comfortable in a lot of ways.

Employers should therefore ensure that all existing loopholes are covered as much as possible to avert such individual’s grievance from occurring at work place.

He succinctly put it in Nigeria while these may being as individual grievances, they invariable become collective grievances, requiring all members of the union to express their dissatisfaction with the management treatment of union members.

Nnabuife (1995) said that any time grievance occur, a grievance interview should be conducted by the manager or immediate boss concerned so as to find the real cause of the problem. The person conducting the interview must be patient with the aggrieved employee in order to really find out what exactly lead to the grievance. Meaning that all individuals grievances are meant to be settled internally within the organization. For any reason success is not achieved in settling it internally, and at a certain level, could lead to collective grievance.

The view of Fashoyin in collective grievance is that grievance that concerns a group of workers or the union. It is usually caused when there is a disagreement between the union and management which could be as a result of denial, refusal or non-implementation of a demand from the union. In most cases, issues that give rise to collective grievance range from wages and salaries, housing allowance and other fringe benefits of course to individuals grievance which has not been handled cautiously as to quell it internally. Furthermore, if management is allowed to ferminate the appointment of any union member without a reasonable cause, the job security of workers will obviously be threatened, because there might be nothing stopping the management from doing same to other employees in future. This would be direct challenge to the ability of the union to protect the interest of their members.

Nnabuife (1995) outlined some factors that could result to collective grievance.

  1. Unfair treatment
  2. Victimization
  3. Violation of legislation or rule
  4. Poor application of provisions of collective bargaining.
  5. Non-observance of conditions of work and situation not governed by rule.



Public corporations are government owned companies established by the Federal Government or any of the state governments in Nigeria, Nkem (1995). They are established because there are certain essential services, which the state can not allow the private firms to run or operate. These services are usually essential and needed by every one and could be costly if left in the hands of private enterprise, whose major aim is to maximize profit.

Public corporations are established to be cost effective and people oriented, also for essential technical and infrastructural service which the private sector might render very high cost. Public corporations emerge as a result of government acting in the capacity of an entrepreneur to this point, these organization are referred to as public enterprise.

A special category of such enterprise in some countries including Nigeria is known as Statuary Corporation. This means, enterprises that are established by specific statues, which contain provisions relating to financial and personnel, among other things.

In case of structure of government administration the agencies and bodies are necessary for administering social welfare. A useful subdivision of the public enterprise is distinguished into three groups. A public utility corporation, development and finance service corporation summary of the classification reads thus:

  1. Statutory corporation
    1. Public utilities co-operations
    2. Development and finance corporations
    3. Social services corporations
  2. State owned companies
  3. Mixed economy enterprises

It is evident from the definition that public corporations are organizations because an organisation is a formal association of individuals with a common purpose and with stipulated objectives under authority and leadership.

For an organization to attain efficiency and effectiveness, management must solve the following problems.

People structure and change, an organization management must be capable of getting people to participate in their particular organization and at the rate of production that will lead to the attainment of desired outcome. In most cases, this participation will be induced or conceded, although in some organization, such a participation may be voluntary. On the issue of structure, it is believed that the organizational structural task should be divided into organizational sub tasks and therefore distributed through out the organizational system of authority and influence must be established, and finally a system of control must be development to see that the part co-ordinate and behave according to the needs of the organization, while the issue of change is on whether the organization is capable of adjusting to social changes in form of what the people need at a particular point in time. These charges can also be been as to what extent a particular organisation is reliable in their production of social needs.

It is therefore not surprising that in an attempt to make an organisation reliable, Fredrick Taylor come up with the idea of scientific management being a production of man, he observed and convinced that there was one best way to do a job and consequently, it is the obligation of management to discover and implement the best methods.

Accepting this as his premise, he set about to develop methods that would lead to the discovery of the one best way of task accomplishment. He believed that such methods should be based as scientific inquiry, not simply workers opinion.

The scientific management places special emphasis upon production. The sole interest of the concept was on what to do in order to increase employee productivity so that the entrepreneur could realize enough revenue. Going further in this concept Nwachukwu (1988) said that scientific management is not any efficient device or a device of any kind for securing efficiency, it is not a new system, it is not a bonus system, it is not a premium system. It is not a scheme for paying men, it is not holding a stopwatch on a man and writing things on him rather scientific management was to increase the output of the average employee and improve the efficiency of management.

the scientific management theory did not go unchallenged. This was as a result of the fact that the real “mental revolution” was not completely realized this being a function of the fact that man is not just an economic animal reacting only to financial incentives. It was on this note that ETTO MAYO (regarded as the further contemporaries addressed themselves to the workers problems. They held that workers were made solitaries to the extent that such workers held their work at low esteem therefore were depressed and pessimistic.

Employee grievance on the other hand as defined by Ubeku (1975) is a real or imagine complaint by an employee against the company, based on alleged misinterpretation, misapplication or non-application of the terms of employment.

Such misinterpretation or misapplication of the terms of contract can either be by management or by co-workers or groups within the establishment. This is so because the organisation is made up of individuals and groups. Here, we look at groups as not just a collection of individuals, but an organized system of two or more individual who are interrelated so that the system performs some functions has a stand and set of the relationship among its members and has a set of norms that regulate the function of the group and reach of its members.

In every organisation, we have individuals and groups working forward attaining the organisation objectives. This is because without human element the organization can not function.

Individuals with different characteristic and behaviour exists in every organization. This is due to influences which come in form of personal needs such as learning, discipline culture, ethics, religion family, peer groups, norms etc. To attain efficiency, management must be able to solve the problem involving these different human elements. Such problems are bound to exist because of the diversity in behaviour as a result of individual differences.

In the era pre-dating human relation movement, movement of the employee grievances were at the prerogative of the administrators. More often, the workers grievances were not listened to, and more disheartening, they were meant to work under dangerous conditions and with low compensation pay. The management then looked at workers as individuals.

Because of individual differences and the needs to understand people at work so as to achieve organizational goals or objectives by the  management failure to behaviour or conflicts in an organization.

Grievance peruse is irrelevant in the work place, especially in the public corporation, what must be understood is the fact that there is a grievance whether such grievance is real or imagined. “Kelly’s realistic view on conflicts” is pertinent here. It must be recognized and accepted as integral to any human undertaking.

According to Steers (1991) conflicts is helpful, conflict can lead to search for new ideals and new mechanism, as solution to organizational problems. Conflicts can tumult to innovation and changes. It can facilitate employee motivation in cases where employees feel a need to excel and as result push themselves in order to meet performance objectives.

Conflicts can help individuals and group members grow and develop self-identities.

Conflicts which aim at a resolution of tension between antagonists is likely to have stabilizing and integrative functions for their relationship by permitting mediator and direct expression of rival claims such social systems are able to read. Just their structures by dissatisfaction. The multiple conflicts with experience may serve to eliminate the causes for disassociation and toe reestablish unity. These systems avail themselves through toleration and institutionalization of conflict.

Selekman (1947) saw the need for building joint relationship. To him, whatever is the kind of institutional framework potential in the first labour contract agreement that brings the administrator (management) and workers together from day to day activities, there is need of securing observance of the law or the agreement.

Observance of joint agreements indeed constitutes today a prime national objectives, widely held and presently sought by management, union, government and public. To this therefore, the resources to apply as an instrument of enforcement implies, specific types of relationship between those (management) who will give order and those (worker) who will take orders. Disciplinary measures must then be applied again entailing a degree of relationship between the disciplinarian and the disciplined.

The measures of the penalties for violation of rules ought to be written into the agreement itself or more formidably into statutory low. Only then by such painstaking undertaking on the part of the employees and that of the management can be sound relationship that forester’s observance of the agreement be appreciated.

Steers (1991) said that conflict is the process in which individuals or group have been frustrated or about to frustrate their plans, goals, beliefs or activities. In other words, conflict involves situations in which the expectations or actual goal-direct behavior of one person or group are checked or about to be checked by another person or group person.

Steers (1991) identify four types of conflicts. They are:

  1. Cognitive conflict
  2. Goal conflict
  3. Effective conflict
  4. Behaviour conflict
  5. Cognitive conflict: can result when one person or group holds ideas or opinions that arte inconsistent with those of others. This type of conflict is evident in political debates.
  6. Goal conflict: can occur when one person or group desires a different outcome that others do. This is simply a clash over whose goals are going to be pursued.
  7. Effective conflict: is a type of conflict that emerges when one persons or group’s feeling or emotions (attitude) are incompatible with those of others effective conflict is seen in situation where two individuals simply don’t gets along with one another.
  8. Behaviour conflict: exist when one person or group does something (i.e behave in a certain way) that is unacceptable to others.

Each of these type of conflict is usually triggered factors and each can lead to very different responses by the individual or group.

at this point, it is paramount to first of all under stand what is labour management relations and industrial relation which serve as the premise on which such grievance are managed or settled.

according to Akpala (1982) labour management relations connote to a relationship between the workers, not as an individuals, but in their collective identity and their employer. He stated that industrial relation is the regulation of employment relations in any employment situation by the management or the organization, their worker organization and third party, private and government acting as an umpire or controller. The purpose of this is joint decision making for establishing job relations and co-operation of manpower resources for the attainment of the organization objective of the enterprise and the trade union and of course state.

Yesufe (1984) described it as covering the sociology and polities of power in the work situation.

Ubeku (1983) sees industrial relation as the study of the process of control over worker relations, it is the study of all the relationship that exist in the work place.


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