Workers participation : workplace forums in the South African context

Smith, Willie Gerald (1998-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 1998.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: For the first time in South Africa's labour relations history, a comprehensive legislative tool (The Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995), which has the potential and aim to serve the interests of employers and employees in a different way than traditional collective bargaining has been designed. Leadership by the captains of industry and labour will be necessary in breaking new ground and in making the perceived new framework of relationships work. The change process, the principles of participation, and the development and implementation of new values. will not be easy. cheap or comfortable. Management can respond to the Act by complying to the letter of the law, that is, going technically through the motions required by the Act. In years to come, it would perhaps be more beneficial if they responded to the spirit of the law: a genuine and real involvement of all stakeholders taking co-responsibility for the success of their organisations. "Successful workplace relationships are made by all people inside the workplace and not by the laws created outside the workplace" (lsrae1stam and Marais, 1997). 1bis will require a true transformation of their organisations using employee involvement as a key to organisational transformation. Participative management is a very broad concept and its meaning could range from informing employees in advance before implementing management decisions to giving employees majority control on the organisation's governing body. What then would be legitimate reasons for an organisation to implement participative management? International experience makes it clear that, in order to be effective, prosperous organisation. The need to move beyond adversarialisrn 15 based on the need to escape the selfperpetuating cycle of confrontation and dissatisfaction and lack of co-operation. Participative management is part of the effort to reverse the confrontational trend and achieve a positive spiral of co-operation through joint problem solving and strengthening of organisational resources, shared benefits, mutual understanding. caring, goal creation, keeping of promises and success in goal achievement. Due to the fact that each South African organisation is at a different stage of industrial relations and management culture development, participative management cannott be rushed into practice. South Africa needs to learn from the good and the bad of international experience and adapt these lessons to its own unique labour circumstances. While South African employees have been instumental in achieving democratic rights politically, their long-standing and intense struggle for labour rights and democracy has left a powerful and intense legacy of need for satisfaction of workplace demands!' A Workplace Forum is therefore a participative management mechanism in the form of an employee representative committee which interacts closely with the employer. As is evident in Figure 1, management and trade unions may decide to solve their differences through collective bargaining or through some form of joint problem solving, such as workplace forums. The new structure at workplace level gives workers a voice in managerial decisions.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge 66 van 1995 is in werking gestel met die spesifieke doel om vir die eerste keer in die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis na die belange van die werknemer, werkgewer en georganiseerde arbeid op 'n gebalanseerde wyse om te sien. Die daarstelling van werkplekforums in organisasies is daarop gemik om deelnemende strukture in plek te kry. Die vestiging van deelnemende bestuur in organisasies, sal ongetwyfeld met konflik gepaard gaan, omdat werknemers en werkgewers se behoeftes verskil. Hierdie konflik behoort ten minste nou op 'n geordende wyse deur wetgewing aangespreek te word. "Suksesvolle arbeidsverhoudinge word geskep en handhaaf deur alle belanghebbendes binne die werkplek en beslis nie deur wetgewing buite die organisasie nie" (lsraelstam en Marais, 1997). Dit bly dus ongetwyfeld die verantwoordelikheid van bestuur om deelnemende besluitnemingsmeganisme daar te stel ten einde die transformasieproses in organisasies te bespoedig. Konflik word verder verminder deur groter betrokkenheid in plaas daarvan dat besluite op 'n tipiese burokraties-outoritere wyse geneem word. Deelnemende besluitneming kan lei tot beter funksionering van die organisasie omdat besluite deur 'n groep beter is as enkelbesluite. 'n Werkplekforum kan alleenlik doeltreffend funksioneer mits opregte deelnemende bestuur dien as vertrekpunte. Werkplek forums moet as platvorms gebruik word waar toepaslike inligting, sienswyse, probleme en oplossings oop en eerlik met almal gedeel word, sodat stabiele doeltreffende verhoudings in die organisasie sal ontstaan. Die sentrale tema van hierdie projek gaan oor die verhouding tussen werkgewer, werknemer en georganiseerde arbeid waar werkplekforums as 'n deelnemende besluitnemingsmeganisme geimplementeer kan word, met die gevolg dat werknemers werklik deur middel van verteenwoordiging met werkgewers kan skakel. Groter verantwoordelikheid en toegewydheid aan die kant van arbeid en bestuur sal verseker dat produktiwiteit en kwaliteit verbeter, ten einde met gemak op die intemasionale markte mee te kan ding.

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