The preparation of the labor relations landscape of South Africa (1994-2008): an environmental perspective for sustainable development

  • Published April 12, 2017
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    Volume 8 2017, Issue #1, pp. 93-102
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This paper undertakes a review of the literature that examines the highlights and changes in specific external environmental factors (Ecology, Economy, Politics, Legislation and legal structures, and Society), between1994 and 2008 in South Africa, with the aim to ascertain how these factors affect the day-to-day labour relations in the workplace and add to sustainable development. These factors form the landscape for labour relations. Changes to them have consequences on the quality of labour relations, that is, inter alia, the frequency, and intensity of conflicts, disputes, demands and industrial actions. It is also evident that with its power and through the political system, the South African trade union was enhanced to shape the labour relations landscape. Labour laws were particularly designed to be worker friendly and to ensure that trade unions could use a fair collective bargaining system to spread the wealth of the mining industry, agriculture and other industries more evenly. Also, because of the alliance that exists between Labour and the ruling party (ANC), the economy was influenced so that economic policies could to a certain extent guide and steer economic growth, unemployment, inflation, interest rates and exchange rates. Trade unions were instruments in ensuring that formal changes in laws and policies did, in fact, reach and positively impact families and households within the social environment. Lastly, trade unions were the most effective instrument for heralding change within South Africa in the environmental fields of ecology, economy, politics, legislation and legal structures, as well as within society. Furthermore, these fields have interchangeably affected the labour relations landscape thereby indelibly shaping it between 1994 and 2008.

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    • Table 1. Economic indicators of South Africa (1994-2009)