Unions are large players in the world of labour relations in South Africa and employers seem to be fearful when unions are mentioned.
However, it should be remembered that the Labour Relations Act (no. 66 of 1995) governs the relationship between unions and the employer and that there are certain requirements unions must reach before receiving the rights they may require.
Before unions may enter the workplace, it is required in section 21 of the Labour Relations Act that unions must provide the employer with the following information before a meeting between the employer and the union can take place:

  1. A certified copy of the trade union’s certificate of registration;
  2. The workplace in respect of which the union seeks to exercise the rights;
  3. The representatives of the trade union in that workplace, and the facts relied upon to demonstrate that it is a representative trade union;
  4. The rights that the trade union seeks to exercise and the manner in which it seeks to exercise those rights.

The employer must meet with the union within 30 days of receiving a notice with the above mentioned information and attempt to conclude a collective agreement with the union regarding the rights requested and how these rights will be exercised in respect to the workplace. Employers are further urged to request the union’s Constitution in order to verify the scope of the Union and if they may represent employees in the company’s sector.
Unions may require various organisational rights such as: access to the workplace (Section 12), deductions of trade union subscriptions (Section 13), trade union representatives (Section 14), leave for trade union activities (Section 15), etc. All such rights must be discussed and agreed upon between the employer and the respective union in the form of a collective agreement to avoid being dragged to the CCMA.
Employers should also take into account that extra admin will be required from the employer’s side regarding the deduction of union subscriptions. Therefore, as the LRA does not mention admin costs or regulations regarding these admin costs, the employer should negotiate the charge of an admin fee with the union for making these deductions and include this into the collective agreement.
Such an admin fee would be based on the percentage of deductions made from employee salaries for union subscriptions.
For any assistance regarding organisational rights in your workplace, contact us on 0861 737 263.