Bargaining councils on the decline

Jan 16 2013 13:23

Mining sectors which already had collective bargaining but no council, were talking of setting up a bargaining council.A crowd of striking mine workers from Rustenburg. (Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press)

Related Articles

Amcu insists on a single mine council

Average SA worker supports 3 others

New union threatens strike at SAA

Strikes, boycott calls 'economic sabotage'

Farm strike threatens production, jobs

Johannesburg  - The use of bargaining councils to negotiate wages is decreasing in South Africa, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Wednesday.

A survey by the SAIRR found that the number of workers and employers who used bargaining councils to negotiate wages declined from 9.6% in the second quarter of 2011 to 9.4% in the second quarter of 2012.

The total number of bargaining councils had fallen from 77 in 1996 to 46 in 2012 despite several amendments to the Labour Relations Act of 1995, which sought to promote collective bargaining,

The data, sourced from Stats SA, also revealed that the majority of all wage adjustments were decided solely by the employer without consultation with employees.

Such wage adjustments accounted for 49% of all types of wage negotiation in the second quarter of 2012.

Bargaining councils are empowered to negotiate, enforce collective agreements, and prevent and resolve labour disputes.

They establish various schemes such as training schemes, pension, provident, medical, and other funds.

Proposals from bargaining councils are also sent to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) for labour policies and laws.

Bargaining councils can also confer consultative authority on workplace forums and decide what may or may not be an issue for the purpose of a strike or lockout.

Jonathan Snyman, researcher at SAIRR, said attempts had been made to close down 400 clothing factories that were not compliant with the minimum wages prescribed by bargaining council agreements.

The industry had shed 50 000 jobs in the past 10 years.

"While collective agreements are breaking down in clothing, companies in the platinum sector are considering moving towards a collective bargaining system after strikes disrupted the sector in recent months," he said.

Mining sectors which already had collective bargaining but no council, were talking of setting up a bargaining council.

While collective bargaining helped to voice the concerns of the majority of workers, it did so at the expense of smaller unions and smaller employers, he said.

"The current legislation gives bargaining rights only to unions that represent 51% of the workforce in a particular sector.

"In theory, this means that unions that represent as much as 49% of the workforce within a sector are effectively marginalised," Snyman said.

The proposed changes in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill of 2012 sought to lower the threshold for organisational rights to below the 50% threshold, giving smaller unions more say in collective agreements.

Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.




Read Fin24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Company Snapshot

We're talking about: MINI BUDGET

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's first budget speech will be a balancing act on more than just the numbers level.

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

New SAA board now has an aviation expert

Previous results · Suggest a vote