Welcome to the Bargaining Council for the Restaurant, Catering and Allied Trades. A number of questions spring to mind, such as, what is a Bargaining Council? And why are there Bargaining Councils? There are of course many questions that can be asked, but we will try and answer the two above.
WHAT IS A BARGAINING COUNCIL?
A Bargaining Council is a body which regulates minimum terms and conditions of employment and usually minimum wages as well, for a particular sector or area of industry.
A Bargaining Council will be made up of one or more registered trade unions and one or more registered employers’ organisations (comprised of a number of employers in the same industry that group together). These are known as the union party and the employer party.
A Bargaining Council is established by the parties adopting a constitution that complies with the statutory requirements and by registering that Bargaining Council. The parties to the bargaining council then negotiate through a process (known as collective bargaining) to set the employment standards and wages for the industry, sector and/or area for which the council was established. Initially, the terms of any agreement reached will apply only to the parties (and their members/employees). However, the parties can apply to have their agreement extended so that it applies to all employers and employees operating in that industry/sector/area. When this is done (by notice in the Government Gazette) then the parties have effectively established standards to which all operating in that industry/sector/area must adhere. To the extent that issues are then regulated by the Bargaining Council agreement, the provisions of that agreement take precedence over the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Bargaining Councils can also perform disputes functions and establish and administer schemes or funds such as pension, provident, medical aid, sick pay, holiday, unemployment and training schemes or funds. In addition, they are empowered to enforce compliance with their agreement.
BARGAINING COUNCILS’ WHY?
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No 75 of 1997) makes provision for the variation of conditions of employment through Collective Agreements. The following is an extract from this section of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
“49. Variation by agreement
- A collective agreement concluded in a bargaining council may alter, replace or exclude any basic condition of employment if the collective agreement is consistent with the purpose of this Act and the collective agreement does not-
- Reduce the protection afforded to employees by sections 7, 9 and and any regulation made in terms of section 13;
- Reduce the protection afforded to employees who perform night work in terms of section 17(3) and (4);
- Reduce an employee’s annual leave in terms of section 20 to less than two weeks;
- Reduce an employee’s entitlement to maternity leave in terms of section 25;
- Reduce an employee’s entitlement to sick leave in terms of section 22 to 24;
- Conflict with the provisions of Chapter Six.”
Thus it can be seen the Legislature acknowledges the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No 75 of 1997) can be problematic for certain industries, and through the Bargaining Council system of collective bargaining, employer organisations and trade unions can self-regulate a particular industry or sector of an industry.