It has often been argued that SA’s labour laws are restrictive and therefore discourage firms from employing workers they would have otherwise employed within a looser legal framework. But researchers are at odds about the role and impact of strict labour laws on employment, inequality, productivity and economic growth. Trade unions are supposed to act as advocates for the protection of workers’ rights as well as serve as worker representatives on platforms that determine wage and growth outcomes. However, they have been accused of advancing their organisational agendas irrespective of whether these are in the best interests of the workers they purport to represent. The question therefore arises: what is the most practicable structure of labour law to ensure the labour force is sufficiently protected without retarding the productivity and earnings imperatives of the organisations that hire and fire? A watershed moment in the history of SA labour and industrial relations was the 19...

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