Exploring the effect of military leadership on the role of public sector trade unions : the South African Navy Fleet Command Headquarters case

Mathee, Sharifa (2019-04)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The advent of democracy brought about many unprecedented changes to the leadership of the South African Public Service, more specifically the South African Navy Fleet Command Headquarters. Simultaneously, from a labour relations perspective, this era also signified increased worker rights for public service employees in the work place. However, leadership within this military domain given its inherent unique complexities, operates differently from the broader Public Service, comprising both Defence Act Personnel (DAP) and Public Service Act Personnel (PSAP), also known as Defence Civilians. Subsequently, defence civilians in this setting have shown much dissatisfaction in the way they are represented by their trade unions (PSA and NEHAWU) and also in the way that they are treated by the senior military leadership. These employees hold perceptions that they do not belong fully and, furthermore, that there is no synergy between the military leadership and trade unions. This conclusion was largely based on perceptions, as this paradigm had remained largely unexplored, with little to no empirical evidence available to support it. It was for this reason that an exploratory study was initiated; it was necessary to discover the true effect, if any, that the current military leadership style has on the ability of trade unions to perform their roles within this milieu. A qualitative strategy was employed for suitable flexibility. In order to better corroborate and extrapolate the findings of this study, primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews and focus groups, thus forming a mutual relationship with the secondary data available, such as legislation and policies. Subsequently, the findings asserted that the current autocratic leadership style that the Fleet Command employs, does impact negatively on the role of these trade unions. Equally important, was the finding that defence civilians were dissatisfied with the way leadership treated and exluded them. Evidence was found of the distrust in the ability of their union representatives to represent them properly. Despite evidential challenges, it is considered within the realm of possibility that Fleet Command, through collaboration and teamwork, may galvanise all parties to work successfully towards an approach to strengthen this tripartite relationship, as envisioned by Defence Review 2015. By promoting the “One Force” concept, the tripartite collective will be reinforced, not only in the Fleet, but in the broader Navy, where it is much needed as well.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die koms van demokrasie het tot heelwat ongeëwenaarde leierskapveranderinge in ons staatsdies gelei, veral ook by die leierskorps van die Suid Afrikaanse Vlootbevels-hoofkwartier in Simonstad. Gelyktydig met hierdie verwikkelinge, vanuit die perspektief van arbeidsverhoudings, het groter werkersregte vir die staatsdiensamptenare ingetree. Gegewe die unieke aard van die militêre domein, funksioneer leierskap daar egter anders as binne die algemene staatsdies. Immers is lede van sowel die Vloot se verdedigingmag (DAP) asook sy burgerlike werksmag (PSAP) daar werksaam. Hierdie verdelingslyn het tot gevolg dat heelwat burgerlike lede klagtes opper oor die ondoeltreffende wyse waarop hul vakbonde (PSA en NEHAWU) hul verteenwoording. Hul ongelukkigheid geld egter ook hul behandeling deur die vloot se senior leierskader. Die burgerliker werkers is van mening dat hulle nie volwaardig deur laasgenoemde aanvaar word nie, en verder, dat daar geen sinergie tussen die militêre leiers en vakbonde bestaan nie. Omdat daar nog min navorsing in dié veld gedoen is, en min empiriese bewyse beskikbaar was om hierdie menings te ondersteun, kon daar slegs op persepsies gereken word. Duidelikheid oor die werklike aard en voorkoms sous legs deur ‘n behoorlike ondersoekende studie bepaal kon word. Die navorser het derhalwe ‘n aanpasbare, kwalitatiewe strategie beplan om bruikbare resultate te bekom. Primêre data is deur middel van halfgestruktureerde onderhoude en fokusgroepe ingesamel en met beskikbare sekondêre data (wetgewing en beleid) gekombineer. Die resultate het bevestig dat die huidige, outokratiese leierskapstyl van die bevelstruktuur wel negatief inwerk op die rol van die vakbonde. Van gelykwaardige belang is die bevinding data burgerlike lede hul behandeling deur militêre leiers, en die uitsluiting wat hul beleef, sterk veroordeel. Ook die gebrek aan vertroue in die werkersunies se vermoë om hul lede behoorlik te verteenwoordig, is bevestig. Ten spite van ooglopende uitdagings, is dit nogtans moontlik vir die Vloot se bevelstruktuur om samewerking te bewerkstellig. Deur deelnemende spanwerk kan alle partye tot so ‘n mate saamwerk dat die driepartyverhouding, soos deur Defence Review, 2015 voorsien is, versterk word. Deur die “Een Mag-konsep” sterk te promoveer, sal die drieparty-opset nie net slegs onder lede van die vlootbasis verstewig word nie, maar sal ook die breër Vloot tot diens wees.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106241
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