By Tania Govender, Sales Director at Worldwide Staffing
Bargaining councils are an integral part of the South African labour landscape and were established with the aim of maintaining a favourable, positive and constructive relationship between employers and employees.
There are currently more than 40 functioning bargaining councils in the private sector, positioned to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with labour practices among businesses. These councils typically deal with collective agreements, solve labour disputes, establish various schemes and comment on labour policies and laws. They also serve to manage funds that will benefit their members or relevant parties, and to make proposals regarding the laws affecting the specific sector.
A bargaining council can be established by either one or more employers, organisations or workers unions, and they must be registered under the Labour Relations Act for a specific sector or industry.
With labour/staff often forming the crux of any business, dealings with bargaining councils cannot and should not be avoided. In fact, an employer is legally obligated to register with a specific bargaining council, if the business’s core function is prescribed in the scope of application of any bargaining council. Employers must also comply with the terms and conditions as set out in the collective agreement of the bargaining council.
However, the processes surrounding engagement with bargaining councils can often be lengthy, taxing and complex. Due to these prolonged processes, the South African labour market continues to see delayed wage increases, challenges to negotiated outcomes, as well as industrial action resulting from these delays or from failures to resolve escalating conflicts in the labour market.
From an employer’s perspective, engaging and managing a relationship with a bargaining council is often more than just a time consuming exercise. It also redirects internal resources away from matters that are more pertinent to the business, such as critical operational issues that might require attention.
Thus, there is much value in partnering with a Temporary Employment Services (TES) provider that can step in and manage these processes on behalf of an employer, freeing up the business to focus on its core functions and other more strategic matters.
Typically, a TES provider would deliver services such as managing the employee fund benefits, managing the relationships with trade unions and employee organisations and assisting in the resolution of labour disputes, while ensuring the business remains complaint with bargaining council regulations.
Essentially, a TES provider will also manage the administrative functions that pertain to dealing with a bargaining council, such as the handling of dispute levies, bargaining council levies and provident funds. The TES provider will ensure that the correct deductions are made and that they are paid over to the bargaining council and administrated correctly. Taking over these administrative functions can take a lot of pressure off the employer.
The value of a TES provider
The fact is that if businesses truly understood the risks associated with not handling a bargaining council engagement properly, they would realise the full value of the services that a TES provider can bring to the table. The risk of non-compliance not only compromises the employer-employee relationship, but also potentially exposes a business to harsh penalties and fines and could even result in criminal charges being instituted against the employer.
A TES provider can ensure that the process runs expertly, smoothly and without risk, since risks in the workplace can be detrimental to a business. Ensuring that an organisation remains compliant can help avoid a strike, downing of tools, or fines from the Department of Labour, as well as occupational health and safety fines, to mention a few. Facing any one of these risks could result in a loss of business and could also damage the business’s reputation in the industry.
While being compliant with bargaining council terms and conditions is critical, the management of this engagement can be extremely time consuming and complicated. A TES provider can relieve a business from having to manage the relationship with their bargaining council, while giving the employer peace of mind that all matters will be expertly handled and fully compliant with the specific requirements.