You are on page 1of 2

industrial relations courses

To understand why Industrial Relations is such a heated, divisive issue in South Africa, it's useful
to look at the historical relationship between the man on the street, trade unions and Big
Business.

Although trade unions have had a presence in the country since the 1880s, they were initially only
for white workers. The key issue behind the 1922 General Miners' Strike was the job security of
white miners who were being replaced at much lower pay by Black miners. This resulted in violent
confrontations with the police and military and loss of life. After it was resolved, the Prime Minister
at the time, General Smuts lost the next election and even his seat in Parliament.

Although Blacks were not prohibited from joining trade unions, they were not recognised in law
and had little power. The South African Congress of Trade Unions was established in 1956 but
was driven underground due to apartheid era legislation like the Industrial Conciliation
Amendment Act, and brutal police suppression.

In 1977 the Wiehahn Commission recommended that black workers be permitted to join trade
unions. CUSA and FOSATU, the fore-runner of COSATU were formed in 1979. From this point,
the connection between trade unions and political change became inseparable. With people
brought together en masse, and organised, black workers could push for their rights via strikes
and other acts of defiance that not only affected their Industry employers, but the economy as a
whole. Trade union leaders were active in the United Democratic Front (the internal wing of the
ANC) calling for change and putting pressure on employers.

Faced with waves of strikes and protest action and international sanctions, employers in turn
pressured the Nationalist Government to change. After years of strikes, protest action, states of
emergency and repression under President Botha, change was inevitable. In February 1990
President de Klerk unbanned the ANC, PAC and SACP and releasing Nelson Mandela and other
struggle prisoners thus opening the way for peace talks.

In those days, trade unions were a strong force for change. 20 years after the advent of
democracy, trade unions are again making their presence felt. They represent the working class
and while many may argue that they are representing the elite of the working class in that their
members have jobs, there is little doubt that they are pushing for changes to the lives of the poor
in our society. Their demands and strategies have to be managed. Failure to do so results in
chaos as we have seen in the public sector and in sections of the mining industry.

Bruniquel & Associates was established in 1981 and has been at the forefront of industrial
relations through all the changes, advising employers of their rights and training management in
how to build positive relationships with their employees in difficult times. B&A published the first
series of industrial relations training videos in 1983. Since then it has developed the most
comprehensive series of labour relations training courses on the market.

Industrial Relations courses offered by Bruniquel & Associates (B&A) are designed to defuse the
tension and build positive relationships between employers and employees. Good leadership
leads to good employee relations. Over 32 years these veteran industrial relations, human
resources and training consultants have honed a highly effective, proactive and practical
approach to developing leadership and improving relationships in the workplace. B& A is fully
accredited by the Services Seta to provide training courses which enables employers to gain
BBBEE points and claim tax rebates.

Click here for a complete list of B&A's Industrial Relations & Leadership courses. These
programmes include a series on practical leadership and communication skills; the disciplinary
process from corrective action, formal referrals and disciplinary enquiries to representing parties
in an arbitration; managing conflict and grievances; practical negotiation skills and understanding
all aspects of labour legislation. They are designed to empower line managers, supervisors and
employee representatives (shop stewards and EE Committee members), so that knowledge is
transferred back to the workplace at all levels.