Labour Law Experts will assist you in your negotiations with trade unions and bargaining councils
A trade union can be defined as an organisation of workers that comes together to achieve common goals. These goals include achieving higher wages, gaining additional benefits (including health care and retirement benefits), protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards and achieving better working conditions for all.
It is the duty of trade unions to negotiate and bargain with employers on behalf of union members (employees). These bargains and negotiations may relate to wages, rules related to the hiring and termination of employees, complaint procedures and employee benefits. The ultimate goal of trade unions is to maintain and improve the employment conditions of their members.
Trade Unions in South Africa have a long history, dating back to 1880. The country's trade union movement is known as the largest and most disciplined movement on the African continent. Through South Africa's turbulent years in 1948-1991, the Trade Unions played an important role in the development of political and economic resistance. Since then, these unions still play an enormous role in the lives of South Africa's workforce, with about 3.11 million union members representing 25.3% of the workforce.
Being part of a trade union is fully recognised by the 1996 Constitution of South Africa. It also constitutes that unions are allowed to collectively bargain and strike on behalf of their workers. Over the years, trade unions have played an influential part in shaping the labour market and industrial relations and policies in South Africa.
South Africa's Trade Unions
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is South Africa's largest trade union, with a total of 1.8 million members. COSATU is part of the tripartite alliance with the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). The second largest union is FEDUSA, with a total of 560,000 members and third is NACTU, with 400,000 members, including the powerful union of mine workers.
A large portion of the South African workforce works through trade unions or bargaining councils. This is especially true when it comes to lesser skilled workers, who do not necessarily possess the knowledge, skills or confidence to negotiate complex matters with their employers, preferring to rely upon an independent third party.
The negotiations initiated by trade unions and their workers usually include union recognitions, wage disputes, conditions of service, workplace restructuring and dismissals. All labourers, and job seekers, have the right to join their trade union of choice. By law, employers have no right to discriminate against their workers for being part of specific trade unions.
As it were, it is not always easy to negotiate with trade unions and bargaining councils. This is where Labour Law Experts can come in to help. We will assist you during your wage negotiations with unions and bargaining councils, helping to mediate a common ground that all parties can agree on.