Industrial relations and inclusive development in South Africa: A dream deferred?

Hayter, Susan and Pons-Vignon, Nicolas (2018) Industrial relations and inclusive development in South Africa: A dream deferred? In: Hayter, Susan and Lee, Chang-Hee, (eds.) Industrial Relations in Emerging Economies. ILO and Edward Elgar, London and Geneva, pp. 69-114.

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Abstract

This chapter examines the role that industrial relations institutions played in forging a more inclusive development path in South Africa. Section 3.2 provides a historical account of the evolution of industrial relations institutions. Section 3.3 examines the broader context in terms of patterns of growth and trends in the labour market. It describes a labour market characterized by low labour force participation, high levels of unemployment, and high and increasing inequality. Section 3.4 assesses the degree to which industrial relations institutions have helped to reconcile economic and social goals at a policy level, address wage inequality and facilitate stable and productive labour relations. Section 3.5 concludes that while these new industrial relations institutions extended labour protection to millions of workers who had previously been excluded, they provide a patchwork of innovative institutions. Work in conditions of poverty and insecurity, together with a lack of broader economic and social transformation, is placing strains on this institutional patchwork and causing it to tear at the seams. Rather than weaken and deregulate the protection of workers at the core, there is a need to expand and reinforce both protective and participative standards so that these cover those in the informal economy, and on the periphery of labour markets.

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