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Two steps to follow if your employees threaten to join or start their own trade union

by , 10 April 2013
'No matter how big or small your enterprise is, your employees have the right to unionise. This applies even if your organisation is not a business.' And these trade unions are the cause of many a business headache, especially in light of strike action. Now, research shows employees are losing faith in trade unions due to corruption - and some are now taking matters into their own hands by forming their own trade unions. Luckily, it's easy to deal with this...

 
Are trade unions your biggest bugbear in the workplace?
 
You're not alone.
 
South African employees are losing faith in trade unions, according to a survey compiled by the Human Sciences Research Council, says JacarandaFM.
 
It's a big drop, with trust in trade unions among the public at 43% in 2011 and just 29% in 2012. 
 
The poll was compiled in the wake of several wild-cat strikes last year and shows that 35% of black South Africans and 53% coloured South Africans saying they distrusted unions in 2012.
 
Now there's talk that employees will form their own trade unions to ensure their needs are met.
 
Luckily, there's a way to deal with trade unions effectively, efficiently and in a legally watertight way, says Ivan Israelstam in the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
 
You need to know this, as trade union officials have been specially trained to negotiate with you to make sure the union gets its way.
 
Don't discriminate against or reject trade union requests upfront!
 
And section 5 of the Labour Relations Act states you can't discriminate against or threaten employees or job applicants who want to form a trade union or belong to one.
 
You also need to avoid rejecting the trade union's approach purely because you're afraid of unions.
 
Don't be afraid of trade unions –here's what to do if your employees form or join their own trade union
 
Instead, check if you have trustworthy employees who have the experience and expertise to deal with trade unions on your management team, says Israelstam.
 
Then check the trade union's registration.
 
This is important, because if the trade union's not properly registered, you can refuse to grant it the rights it's demanding.
 
Simple as that.  
 

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