From Stephen Khola, ECA(SA) National Labour Relations & HR Director: When considering the role of an employers’ organisation in general, and what the ECA(SA) does for its members, in particular, we need to remember that the purpose of the Labour Relations Act, 95, (LRA) as amended, is to advance economic development, social justice, labour peace and the democratisation of the workplace by fulfilling the following objectives:

Providing a framework within which employees and their trade unions, employers and employers’ organisations can –

  1. Collectively bargain to determine wages, terms and conditions of employment and other matters of mutual interest; and
  2. Formulate industrial policy.

In order to give effect to the above objects, employers have the right to organise (freedom of association) in terms of section 6 of the LRA which provides that every employer has the right to participate in forming an employers’ organisation or a federation of employers’ organisations; and to join an employers’ organisation, subject to its constitution.

In terms of section 8 of the LRA, every employers’ organisation has the right, subject to the provisions of Chapter VI to, amongst others, determine its own constitution and rules, and to plan and organise its administration and lawful activities.

An employers’ organisation is a legal person with powers and duties determined by its constitution. It can only act through its duly appointed representatives who must act in accordance with the organisation’s constitution.

It is important for members to note that the following are the ECA(SA)’s objects as stated in its constitution:

  • To watch over, promote and protect the interests of its members;
  • To protect the interests of members in the Industry and to secure their protection by mutual support and co-operation;
  • To establish and enforce uniform conditions amongst members and other persons undertaking work in the Industry;
  • To prescribe standard specifications for work undertaken by persons, standard forms of contract, and to encourage the recognition and use thereof by members and other persons;
  • To promote just and honourable practices and ethics in the conduct of business amongst members and other persons engaged in the Industry;
  • To represent members in labour disputes and the resolution of conflict with their employees;
  • To regulate relations between members and their employees, and to protect and further the interests of members in relation to their employees;
  • To determine, in consultation with employee representatives, rates of wages, working conditions and other matters affecting employees in the Industry as may be necessary from time to time;
  • To promote and secure harmony, peace and goodwill among all employers and employees engaged in the Industry;
  • To secure unity and co-operation, or to seek affiliation, with any other organisation, association, statutory body, local authority, institution or person, which will promote and be in the interests of members;
  • To promote, support or oppose, as may be deemed expedient, any legislation or other measures affecting the interests of members and the Industry;
  • To encourage the settlement of disputes between members and other individuals or parties connected with the Industry by conciliatory methods and, if necessary, to nominate arbitrators on such terms and in such cases as may be expedient;
  • To foster and encourage training in the Industry;
  • To participate in, and ensure full compliance by members, with the provisions of all statutes and legislation affecting the Industry;
  • To establish regions and branches anywhere in Southern Africa;
  • To promote the interests of members generally, and to do all such lawful things as may be necessary or expedient and incidental to the foregoing to:
  1. acquire movable or immovable property;
  2. borrow, receive donations, invest, lend or raise money or pledge the assets of the Association;
  3. employ experts or professional advisors;
  4. distribute information amongst members and others on all matters of interest to the Industry, including the publication of a magazine;
  • To encourage and promote educational and training facilities for those engaged in the Industry;
  • To be party to the establishment and administration of the National Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry of South Africa, or a Statutory Council, in terms of the Act;
  • To afford members assistance or advice of a legal nature or any other assistance as may be necessary;
  • If deemed necessary, to establish one or more section 21 companies to serve the purposes for which they are intended;
  • To be party to the establishment and administration of a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA);
  • To do all such other lawful things as may be in the interests of members.
  • To litigate on behalf of members in such instances where it is deemed necessary and expedient, in order to protect the interests of members or further the objects of the Association.

It is important to also note that the Association can act in its own interest, on behalf of any of its members or in the interests of its members. When it acts in the interests of its members, the Association will be concerned with collective rather than individual interests and in such instances, the principle of ‘majoritarianism’ and collective representation applies.

I will share the Association’s achievements on behalf of its members in the next issue.

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