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Refereed articles

Collective bargaining under the new Labour Relations Act: The resurrection of freedom of contract

In "Collective bargaining under the new LRA: The resurrection of freedom of contract" Barney Jordaan examines the way in which the Act set out to extend the democratic principles of the interim Bill of Rights (largely reproduced in the current Bill of Rights) to the inherently unequal relationship between employer and employee. Collective bargaining remains the principal means of regulating terms and conditions of employment.

Rather than relying on the labour court to supervise the process, the new Act establishes a framework of organisational rights and duties within which employers and unions are left to bargain freely. Where disputes arise about the interpretation of collective agreements, Jordaan argues, it is incumbent on arbitrators to give effect to the intention of the parties rather than seek to order Just outcomes. While this may place limits on the promotion of social equity where management is strong and labour is weak, it is inherent in the model of industrial relations which has been adopted.

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