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TRADE UNIONS AND POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE WORKPLACE by Christo Bester

 

When trade unions lay claim to organisational rights within the workplace, employers are often uncertain about their own rights and those of the trade union, and about how these rights are regulated by legislation. Every employee has the right to join a trade union, just as every employer has the right to join an employers’ organisation – both bodies are regulated by the Labour Relations Act (66 of 1995). However, there is currently a tendency for certain political parties to try to lay claim to trade unions’ organisational rights and intimidate employers to persuade them to consult and reach agreements regarding terms and conditions of employment.

LABOUR UNION

The Labour Relations Act grants the following organisational rights to trade unions, subject to certain requirements:

  • access to the workplace;
  • deduction of trade union subscriptions or levies;
  • shop stewards in the workplace;
  • leave for trade union activities; and
  • disclosure of information.

POLITICAL PARTY

A political party is a political organisation that seeks to influence government policy, usually by setting up its own candidates and vying for votes and government posts. No authority or permission is given to political parties to claim similar rights to those granted to trade unions. Employers must be very careful not to enter into discussions with political parties regarding rights in the workplace.

ORGANISATIONAL RIGHTS

If a trade union wants to lay claim to organisational rights in the workplace, the trade union must first be registered with the Department of Employment and Labour. The constitution of the trade union’s scope of application must correspond to the employer’s type of business. Then the trade union must also have sufficient (±20%) or majority (50%+1) representation in the workplace in order to be able to lay claim to certain organisational rights.

In order to claim to these rights, legislation requires that a trade union follow a procedure which entails the trade union’s notifying the employer in writing of the rights the trade union wants to exercise in the workplace. The employer must then consult with the trade union within 30 days thereafter to enter into a recognition agreement (if the trade union complies with the requirements) that stipulates the terms and conditions agreed on.

BE PROACTIVE

It is important for employers to be proactive in order to strengthen the employer–employee relationship. Clear rules and guidelines in the workplace limit misunderstandings and conflicts, which promotes productivity, as well as a positive working environment.

Published on Mon, 19th Apr 2021 - 12:28

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