Bargaining Council – what about it?

Labour legislation applies to all employers and employees. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) defines the minimum terms and conditions of employment on which the parties may contract. However, if a business falls under an industry that is part of a specific Bargaining Council’s scope of application, the Bargaining Council’s collective agreement will regulate labour relations in that industry and employers are legally obliged to comply with this. Note that certain Bargaining Councils only apply to specific regions. The obligation rests with the employer to determine under which industry the business falls and then to comply with applicable legislation.

Employers that fall within a Bargaining Council’s scope of application must ensure that their employment contracts are drafted in line with this legislation.  Note that the minimum terms and conditions of employment as contained in the Bargaining Council’s collective agreement rank higher than those contained in the BCEA. If any labour disputes arise between the employee and employer, ʼn Bargaining Council will have jurisdiction to deal with these disputes, as opposed to referring the dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Functions of a Bargaining Council include to:

  • conclude and apply collective agreements;
  • prevent and resolve labour disputes;
  • establish and administer a fund to resolve disputes;
  • encourage and establish training and education;
  • to establish and administer pension, provident, unemployment and medical aid funds, as well as sick pay, holiday pay and training schemes for the benefit of one or more of the Bargaining Council’s parties or their members.



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