Collective bargaining in times of crisis: A case study of South Africa

collectiveCollective bargaining in times of crisis:
A case study of South Africa

Renee Grawitzky

Industrial and Employment
Relations Department
International Labour Office • Geneva
ILO DWT for Eastern and Southern Africa
December 2011

Executive summary

This paper, commissioned by the International Labou
r Organisation (ILO, forms part of a
multi-country study which seeks to build on the wor
k initiated by the Global Jobs Pact
adopted during the ILO Conference in June 2009. The
Global Jobs Pact proposed a range
of crisis responses and measures aimed at placing e
mployment, social protection and
incomes at the heart of recovery. These included lo
oking at social dialogue, collective
bargaining and the role played by industrial relati
ons institutions in maximising the impact
of the crisis response, facilitating social stabili
ty, and avoiding job losses and wage
deflation.
In examining the role played by industrial relation
s and collective bargaining
institutions in mitigating the impact of the crisis
and thereafter assisting in the recovery in
South Africa (SA), the paper looks at the context i
n which bargaining took place during the
crisis; the institutions which are responsible for
facilitating bargaining and the outcomes to
emerge from these processes and whether they could
potentially hampered or contributed
towards a balanced recovery.
In providing the context for collective bargaining,
the first section of the paper
provides an overview of some key economic indicator
s impacting on the labour market
such as employment, wages, productivity, income ine
quality and the share of wages to
GDP. This section highlights the growing inequality
in the society (as reflected in the rise
in the Gini coefficient and the steady decline in w
ages as a share of GDP), which
interviews suggest could be a contributory factor t
o rising wage demands (along with the
rather dramatic changes in the consumer price index
(CPI) during the period under
review.)

Collective bargaining in times of crisis: A case study of South Africa

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