Bargaining councils – what is it and how does it work?

A bargaining council is a body that is established by one or more employers’ organisations and one or more trade unions. It must be registered under the Labour Relations Act for a particular industry. This means that there are restrictions on what kind of dispute specific bargaining councils may hear.

Powers and functions of bargaining councils include:

  • making and enforcing collective agreements
  • preventing and resolving labour disputes establishing and managing a dispute resolution fund
  • promoting and establishing training and education schemes
  • establishing and managing schemes or funds to benefit its parties or members
  • making and submitting proposals on policies and laws that affect a specific sector or area

Certain bargaining councils have the status to resolve labour disputes in the same way as the CCMA. Therefor, the CCMA does not have jurisdiction to preside over labour disputes in a spesific industry, if an accredited bargaining council exists.


Does an employer have to register with the bargaining council?

An employer is legally obligated to register with that specific bargaining council, if the core function of the employer is prescribed in the scope of application of any bargaining council. The employer must also comply with the terms and conditions as set out in the collective agreement of the bargaining council.

Hefty fines can be imposed if an employer fails to comply with the collective agreement of the bargaining council.

What are the benefits of being registered with the bargaining council?

When is comes to dispute resolution the commissioners assisting with the disputes in the bargaining council are specialised in that specific industry and collective agreement. Therefor parties will receive expert advice and assistance from the commissioner with regards to dispute resolution.

What must employers know?

If there is a registered bargaining council in a specific industry, the employer required to register with the bargaining council and comply with the collective agreement. Employers must also take care to be informed with regards to their specific industry and comply with applicable legislation.

Contact the LWO at 086 110 1828 or to ensure your business complies with applicable labour legislation.



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