Reflections on Marginalised Workers and the Role of Trade Unions in the Changing World of Work

Authors William Manga Mokofe & Stefan van Eck

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Pearson Institute of Higher Education; Professor of Labour Law, University of Pretoria
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 41 Issue 3, 2021, p. 1365 – 1389


The world of work is changing rapidly. The globalisation of economies and brisk technological changes severely impact all nations. These changes have had a significant impact on traditional employer-employee relations. Labour and social security protections for workers are being eroded through informalisation, casualisation and externalisation. Added to this, new forms of platform work have been established during the fourth industrial revolution that have had a disruptive effect on the notion of secure and indefinite employment. Collective bargaining and trade unions have in the past played an important role in protecting workers’ rights. This contribution interrogates the role of trade unions and collective bargaining in the changed world of work and considers strategies that unions should consider implementing. The article concludes by suggesting that the solution to problems associated with non-standard and platform work may not lie in the bargaining power of trade unions. Governments will have to step in to fill the gaps in order to protect persons involved in new forms of work.