There are several trade unions in South Africa, but a large chunk of them are attached to one of the three major trade union centres in the country. They are made up of employees who operates collectively to ensure the well-being and progress of their members. To ensure this, a large chunk of the trade unions in South Africa are autonomous of any employer.
Hence, the roles of trade unions in South Africa are vast but integral, and they usually revolve around the improvement of the welfare of its members in the workplace. Therefore, cooperation and unity are the watchword of trade unions, since their cooperative efforts gives them power.
First, we should consider the necessity of trade unions in South Africa, just as it is in other parts of the world. It is a known fact that many entrepreneurs usually exploit their workers mercilessly, particularly if they know these employees are uneducated and unenlightened. In several parts of the country, these workers are subjected to working for a whole lot of hours unfairly. And as if that isn’t enough, they still place them under the yokes of nasty working conditions. Therefore, employees come together to form trade unions.
The most crucial role of trade unions in South Africa can be highlighted in the area of negotiation and representation. These associations are always sensitive to the demands and concerns of their members, and they inform the employer of such. The trade unions will often bargain better welfare package for its members, amongst several other roles and functions.
Roles Of Trade Unions In South Africa
Here are crucial roles of trade unions in South Africa:
1. Collective Bargaining and Negotiations
An integral role of every function trade unions in South Africa is in the area of collective bargaining and negotiations. This is carried out with purpose and strategy. What is the driven force (which must be the end result) is that the situation of members at the workplace should be improved.
Hence, trade unions must ensure their members are paid as they ought to, and that employers must be responsible as they ought to. Of course, there are times when collective bargaining and negotiations won’t amount to anything tangible. This is when the trade unions can resort to the likes of boycotting and strike.
2. Rendering Services
Trade Unions are also expected to offer necessary assistance to their members when needed. The general aim is to see to the overall progress of everyone attached to its cause. Thus, it is very necessary that all stakeholders should be cooperative and ensure that everyone will always be on the same page.
Therefore, trade unions would use several attempts in this regard (welfare measures) just to see to it that everyone remains committed to this cause (because there is power in unity, and cooperation is highly necessary and always needed). When members are comforted by the eagerness of the trade union they belong to when it comes to assisting them at their different needs, their self confidence is boosted.
One of the major form of assistance which trade unions provides for its members is in form of legal assistance. Of course, all of these functions can be effective when funds are made available to the trade union. Therefore, there is usually a system in place where bonafide members contribute money which the trade union can then use for the actualization of important functions. Additionally, many trade unions also get donations from external sources.
3. Provision Of Trainings For Members
Under the Trade Unions Act, there are stipulated services which the trade unions can use its funds for. Prominent is the provision of trainings to its members to help them in all important dimensions of life.
Aside the fact that unions must be committed to encouraging the employer to keep promoting the welfare of their workers, it is also necessary that the union itself utilize its funds to enhance the quality of work life of its members. This can be expressed in areas like cooperative credit societies, provision of financial and health care facilities, organization of joint fund, and so on.
Also, the unions can use their funds to make available pamphlets, newsletters, and other similar things. The aim is to create a system of communication for its members so as they can always be in light as touching the activities of the union.
The aim of conducting investigation is to ensure that the union will have all it takes to conduct a fruitful negotiation with employers when needed. They have to know the daily problems encountered in the course of operation. They complie and scrutinise salary data, have a vivid picture of working conditions and welfare plans; and so on.
The roles of trade unions in South Africa usually revolve around getting better earnings and improved working conditions for its members. We can’t ignore the fact that many employers around don’t give employees the treatment they truly deserve, despite the fact that these workers are integral part of the organization. In fact, these workers are the ones doing a very large chunk of the work to make the employer richer. Hence, they deserve being treated with nothing short of honour.
Therefore, the activities of trade unions must be coordinated to ensure the protection of their members against unfair treatment and injustice, enhancing their morale and self-confidence with great welfare packages. Trade unions in South Africa must give great priority to honesty and discipline in the midst of the workforce for obvious reasons. It is very important that things should be done orderly to avoid a situation where anyone can decide to act anyhow they want, even if it is contrary to the demands of the union.
When things are done with order and strategy, then the workers can keep witnessing advancement and growth. They can keep protecting everyone against discrimination within their working environment.