THE Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the events at Lonmin’s Marikana mine provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the health of SA’s collective bargaining framework. As a member of the mediation team that oversaw the final Lonmin pay agreement, and as someone involved in other volatile pay disputes, one can’t help feeling we are at a crossroads.And one can only hope that, while providing some much-needed clarity on what led to the tragedy at Marikana, the commission will also take a long, hard look at our labour relations framework and how it may have influenced not just Marikana, but other industrial disputes.The Lonmin dispute is, in many ways, a microcosm of some of the new challenges we face in applying a collective bargaining framework that was developed during different times and in different circumstances.Our current legislative framework, developed in the mid-1990s, is founded on the principle that the majority union in any workplace has the right to bargain collectivel...

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