The purpose of this dissertation is to consider whether centralised bargaining,
through bargaining councils, is a suitable mechanism for determining minimum
wages in South Africa. In addressing this issue, the minimum wage fixing
mechanisms currently available in South Africa, the impact they have on the labour
markets and whether there is a need for reformation of our labour laws relating to the
setting of minimum wages will be considered.
The dissertation focuses on the various philosophical perspectives on labour law, the
international development of collective labour law, international wage-fixing
mechanisms and the development of South African labour law from the Industrial
Conciliations Act 11 of 1924 to the current Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995.
The current levels of collective bargaining available in South African, focusing on the
establishment and functioning of bargaining councils, the extension of and
exemption from collective agreements, as well as the use of collective bargaining to
set minimum wages are discussed. The advantages and disadvantages of our
current minimum wage fixing mechanisms are also discussed. For the purpose of
comparison, reference is also made to wage fixing though sectoral determinations,
although the focus of the dissertation is on collective labour law.
In the international comparison, the development and functioning of the Australian
and French wage-setting regulations are discussed, as well as policies that could be
considered for application in South Africa.
Collective bargaining, and in particular centralised collective bargaining, plays a
significant role in South African labour law. Since South Africa does not have a
national minimum wage, centralised bargaining remains the main form of fixing
minimum wages, apart from sectoral determinations. In the conclusion and
recommendations, possible solutions to the shortcomings in our centralised
bargaining system, as well as alternative means of setting minimum wages are