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What are the rights of unions in the workplace? An expert explains

Written by: Qama Qukula

Every employee has the Constitutional right to form and be a part of a trade union.

Employment lawyer Ludwig Frahm-Arp says trade unions can be company-specific, industry-specific or sector-specific.

According to Frahm-Arp, the Labour Relations Act sets out how unions are legally formed and the rights they have.

He explains that trade unions are given rights depending on their representivity of the workforce.

Frahm-Arp says that a trade union is typically "sufficiently representative" if they have a membership of at least 35% of the workforce.

Some of the rights of trade unions include:

  • the right to access the workplace to talk to union members
  • the right to stop orders
  • the right to membership stop orders
  • the right to leave for trade union officials
  • the right to access to information
  • the right to appoint shop stewards

The right to be a member of trade union is a Constitutional right.

Ludwig Frahm-Arp, employment lawyer and ‎Director at Fasken law firm

How much of membership base in the workplace do you have? The more members you have, the greater your voice and the more rights you're entitled to.

Ludwig Frahm-Arp, employment lawyer and ‎Director at Fasken law firm

A well-run union which represents its members properly can be a partner in business for an employer and can aid the employer in advancing its business interests.

Ludwig Frahm-Arp, employment lawyer and ‎Director at Fasken law firm

In South Africa, we have a historically polarised relationship between trade unions and employers.

Ludwig Frahm-Arp, employment lawyer and ‎Director at Fasken law firm

Frahm-Arp unpacks the legal and practical complexities of unions in the workplace.

Take a listen to the engaging discussion during the World of Work feature:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : What are the rights of unions in the workplace? An expert explains




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