Essays on The Role of Trade Unions in the Context of Contemporary Employment Relations in South Africa Case Study

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The paper 'The Role of Trade Unions in the Context of Contemporary Employment Relations in South Africa" is a good example of a management case study. This report forms a critical examination of the role that trade unions have played in shaping the employment relations in South Africa. The report starts by indicating the history and current status of trade unions in South Africa. Further, the report observes that the unions play a critical role in facilitating the indirect creation of jobs by acting as labor market intermediaries; facilitating the creation of direct jobs by embarking on job creation initiatives; and influencing social and macroeconomic policies.

The report further notes that trade unions negotiate and resolve issues mainly by building associational power and negotiating directly with the employers. One of the outstanding implications of the labor movement in South Africa is that employers are increasingly externalizing specific labor activities and this invariably creates informal sweatshops. Such practices by employers are creating complexities in the labor market, and as the report notes, union membership is on a steady decline. The report concludes by noting that unless a strategic shift is adopted in how trade unions operate in South Africa, they will lose the position they previously held and their significance in effecting labor practices will have declined. Introduction Trade unions are essentially organizations created for the purpose of representing the rights of workers to prevent exploitation or unfair treatment from large corporations or governments.

Hyman (2001, p. 2) specifically defines trade unions as the “ continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment” . Becoming a trade union member enables workers to complain about unfair labor practices through their union, and this ultimately leads to intervention, in which case the unfair labor situations are remedied.

In South Africa (SA), trade unions date back to the 1880s, but they only got the independent powers and mandate to represent workers’ causes after the apartheid era ended in 1994 (Pillay 2006). Before that, trade unions were often linked to anti-apartheid groups (Trade Unions in South Africa 2013). Currently, however, the Labor Relations Act (LRA) 1995 dictates the issues that trade unions can deal with.

Specifically, the Act states that trade unions must adhere to the issue-only disputes (Trade Unions in South Africa 2013). In other words, trade unions need to pursue business-related issues as opposed to personal issues that specific people in an organization may have. Other issues addressed by the LRA 1995 include information disclosure, collective bargaining, co-determination, protection of striking workers, and organizational rights (Welch 2000).


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