Shop steward is a term for a person who represents employees in the workplace. That person is the crew spokesman, employees give him information about negative situations occurring at work or manifestations of violence in the company. Besides that, shop steward ensures the improvement of employees' working conditions, affects the correction of the remuneration system and searching for ways to constructively resolve conflicts between employees. They make decisions in their own right and make involvement easier. This is very important role for the company (J. Barling, C. Fullagar, K.K. Kelloway 1992). Shop steward helps the employer to effectively counteract mobbing and discrimination. This role has an Anglo-Saxon origin. The role of shop steward was special needed during the antiwar protests in World War I (R. Hoffrogge 2014). The main function which shop stewards execute is complaint handling. Besides that, shop stewards do other duties (G.W. Miller, N.Rosen 1957):
- Complaints handling functions - he is responsible for discovering, investigating, forestalling and processing complaints of members against management;
- Communication functions - responsible for communicating members' attitudes and points of view;
- Union-building functions - responsibility as a leadership of the shop steward, i.n., his liabilities for expanding participation, sense of loyalty, and pro union sentiment among the members
- Citizenship functions - the responsibility of the shop steward for improving in people an interest and readiness to participate in political issues and social affairs.
How to became a shop steward
Shop steward is more of a social and interpersonal role rather than a professional function. The role of shop steward is not always the same. He can be ordinary exponent of a larger unions or in the direction individual structures on the workplace. Members in the organisation and they support have enormous influence on the power of shop steward (P. Bulter, O. Tregaskis 2015). It is employer's responsibility to organize elections for the shop steward. Shop steward may have his deputies, but it is important that candidates must follow the conditions. A person must be employed in the company, that person has never been the subject of any allegation of discrimination, violence or mobbing and it should be a person who has respect and trust of the others. That person has to have specific interpersonal skills, like be self-motivated, assertive, commitment (G. Strauss 1977). All notifications to the shop steward should be made in writing with a hand signature. This person should be chosen in every workplace with more than five employees, but if the number of employees is more than 50, it may be chosen two shop stewards. The shop steward is elected for a two-year term. Every information given to him is confidential. Employers cannot fire from the job shop stewards, If the employer is forced to reduce the number of employees, shop stewards retains the greatest right to keep his job. If shop steward notices any abnormalities or conflict in the organisation, he try to resolve it by meeting where he is an impartial moderator.
- Barling J., Fullagar C., Kelloway K.K. (1992), The Union and Its Members: A Psychological Approach Oxford University Press, New York
- Bulter P., Tregaskis O. (2015), Workplace partnership and legitimacy: A multi-layered analysis of the shop steward experience Work Employment & Society 29(6)
- Hoffrogge R. (2014), Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution. Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and the Origins of the Council Movement Haymarket Books, Chicago
- Miller G.W., Rosen N. (1957), Members' Attitudes toward the Shop Steward Industrial and Labor Relations Review 10(4)
- Strauss G. (1977), Union Government in the U.S.: Research Past and Future Industrial Relations, vol. 16, no.2
Author: Aleksandra Marcinkowska, Paulina Jurusik, Justyna Niemiec