Trade union consultation by employers under employment equity legislation

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South African Journal of Labour Relations

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University of Cape Town

The challenge of globalisation and increasing competition has sparked a debate on whether national policy-makers and organisations are capable of ensuring that historically disadvantaged groups gain greater representation in organisations. A similar challenge is that of affording equality of opportunity to members of increasingly diverse labour forces in the global economy. The juxtaposition of the dual imperatives of competitiveness and high performance on the one hand, and workplace justice and equity on the other is especially challenging in an emergent market like South Africa. In this country a redress of past discrimination in the labour market in respect of skills development, and discriminatory employment practices has to take place without prejudice to the need for associated productivity improvement and increased global competitiveness (Webster & Omar 2003). These twin imperatives tend to be perceived as mutually exclusive by certain employers, but it is argued here that it is important to redress discrimination while at the same time boosting productivity if a high-skill economic model is to be followed. Particularly relevant is the nature and extent of trade union involvement in these processes, which is the focus of this study.