New era for minority unions dawns
16 Oct 2012
The collective bargaining landscape is about to be turned on its head with a proposal which grants Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration’s (CCMA) Commissioner the authority to adjudicate whether to grant minority unions organisational rights in the workplace.
Thembinkosi Mkalipi, Chief Director for Collective Bargaining in the Department of Labour, was addressing the Portfolio Committee on Labour which deliberated on the Labour Relations Amendment Bills in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“We believe that these changes are good for the economy, industrial relations and above all comply with the country’s constitution”, Mkalipi said.
“In no way are these proposals diluting the rights of majority trade unions. All we are saying is that CCMA can adjudicate and grant the minority union access to the workplace”, he said.
He said the changes, contained in Section 21 of the proposed amendments, do not give “automatic rights to minority unions as the law still gives rights to majority unions.
If granted organisational rights, minority unions would enjoy access to the workplace, representative shop-stewards ability to engage with management as well as access to information.
Aleck Nchabeleng, Chairperson Portfolio Committee on Labour said: “we have agreed as the committee that we must elevate the rights of workers to human rights and the best way to do this is to give all workers including those in the minority, organisational rights in the workplace”.
Other committee members cautioned and highlighted problems that can be caused by unorganised workers.
Mkalipi said while all social partners support the proposal, business feels it will be costly.
Herbert Mkhize, Special Advisor to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, cited the recent Marikana debacle as proof that these proposals will help stabilise industrial relations. He said “if the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and UASA had not allowed AMCU to come on board, the situation might have dragged longer than it did.
Issued by: Department of Labour
16 Oct 2012
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