Multi-sectoral Workplaces and Trade Unions: The Unforeseen Consequences of Demarcation Principles and Organisational Rights
Authors Shane Godfrey, Mario Jacobs & Emma Fergus
Affiliations: Director, Labour, Development and Governance Research Unit, University of Cape Town; Researcher, Labour, Development and Governance Research Unit, University of Cape Town; Senior Lecturer, Commercial Law Department; Labour, Development and Governance Research Unit, University of Cape Town
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 42 Issue 2, 2021, p. 692 – 708
The article explores how the changing organisation of work combined with a long-standing legal principle of demarcation disputes and the organisational rights scheme of the Labour Relations Act underlie a significant shift in trade union organisation. The externalisation of work is leading to multi-sectoral workplaces which (among other factors) is motivating trade unions to organise outside their traditional sectors. A legal principle established in demarcation disputes (ie it is the nature of the business of the employer that determines the sector in which the employer is located) has been adopted by commissioners when determining organisational rights disputes to the detriment of trade unions. Unions are responding in part by expanding their organisational scope, in effect becoming multi-sectoral unions. One is therefore seeing a fundamental shift away from industrial unionism to multi-sectoral or even general unionism. This shift, we argue, will lead to a rise in trade union rivalry and will have serious consequences for collective bargaining.