A Delicate Balancing Act: Does the Majoritarianism Approach in South African Labour Law Infringe the Right to Freedom of Association?

Author Phatelang William Senoamadi

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Business Leadership (Unisa); BA, MA (Wits); LLB, MBL (Unisa); PhD (UJ)
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 45 Issue 2, 2024, p. 739 – 757


The article investigates freedom of association rights for trade unions in the context of the majoritarian approach contained in the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995. It reveals that even in the context of majoritarianism, the labour courts and the Constitutional Court have asserted and indeed protected freedom of association rights by interpreting the law to support the granting of certain organisational rights to minority unions. This notwithstanding, the courts’ approach does not automatically translate into the right to bargain on matters of mutual interest. Furthermore, it is acceptable through ministerial determinations to extend collective agreements reached with the majority union to members of the minority union to a point where the minority union would be precluded from embarking on a strike action on issues that are dealt with in the applicable collective agreement. The article concludes that our courts have by and large succeeded in performing a delicate balancing of the competing notion of majoritarianism and the right to freedom of association.