Do cooperatives offer a basis for worker organisation in the domestic sector? An exploratory study

Authors Darcy du Toit, Thierry Galani Tiemeni

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape; Research Assistant, Social Law Project, University of the Western Cape
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 36 Issue 3, 2015, p. 1677 – 1692


The difficulty of trade union (or other) organisation in a sector such as the domestic work sector is well known. As a consequence collective bargaining is unknown and enforcement of workers’ rights is extremely limited. The article considers the potential of cooperatives as a possible model of organisation with a view to establishing whether it could be capable of overcoming the barriers encountered by traditional trade unionism. The purpose is to consider the role that cooperatives could play in empowering domestic workers, not only by creating a basis for socio-economic improvement by providing services for members as contemplated by the Co-operatives Act but also by enabling workers to act collectively in the promotion of their rights. It also considers the scope for domestic workers’ cooperatives to achieve financial viability by providing the same services which domestic worker agencies are successfully providing on a commercial basis.