Challenges and Way Forward for Organised Labour

The paper looks at the state of industrial relations in the mining, construction and energy sectors of South Africa. The recent labour unrest has led many people to question the effectiveness of the country’s industrial relations framework in creating productive, mutually beneficial and harmonious workplaces. The paper discusses the legal framework of post-apartheid industrial relations. It assesses the status of collective bargaining and workplace labour disputes, and the future of industrial relations in the country. It is pointed out that the existing framework for industrial relations can meet the expectation of all stakeholders in the workplace including labour if implemented in its entirety. Union rivalry within the same industry, and the resurfacing of non-compromising approach to industrial relations are identified as the key risk factors to the attainment of workers well-being through negotiations. The paper recommends that going forward, organised labour must aggressively ensure that the existing regulations pertaining to industrial relations are fully implemented and loopholes of compliance and reporting be sealed. This will go a long way to support the aspirations of workers, particularly the previous disadvantaged workers that organised labour represents.

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