The first issue of Law, Development &: Democracy (LDD) is devoted to a subject that has been extensively debated over the last two years - the Labour Relations Act of 1995 (LRA). Is there anything to add to what has already been said? As this is our first issue, a word or two about the contribution we hope to make and the approach we intend to follow - both in relation to this Act, and in future issues - might be in order.
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.
In "Trade unions and the law: Victimisation, organisation and remedies of self-help" Jan Theron critically examines the historical process leading up to the enactment of the LRA with specific reference to the protection of trade unionists against victimisation. Whereas collective action and legal action are widely regarded as being complementary, Theron argues that in practice they tend to be mutually exclusive.
"Industrial democracy in South Africa's transition" by Darcy du Toit considers another paradigm shift contained in the new Act: from the traditional model of employer-employee relations towards more participative forms of management, as embodied in the provision for workplace forums. The article considers worker participation as an aspect of democratisation in accordance with the new constitutional order and examines the extent of the powers given to workplace forums.
As Ian Macun points out in "Does size matter? The Labour Relations Act, majoritarianism and union structure", the Act favours bigger trade unions. While majority trade unionism has important advantages, small unions may in some cases serve the interests of their members as well or even better.
In "Small enterprises, the Labour Relations Act and collective bargaining in South Africa" Melvin Goldberg considers the way in which the LRA deals with small enterprise. Questioning the widely-held beJief that the small business sector is the engine of employment growth, he argues that this has more validity in the informal sector than in the formal sector.
This document by Karl Klare, an eminent labour law scholar and one of the originators of the critical legal studies tradition in the USA, is a slightly shortened version of his submission to the Dunlop Commission, appointed by President Clinton to investigate the future of management-labour relations in the USA. Critically reviewing the development of the US system of collective bargaining, Klare elaborates a more general analysis of the role of labour law at the close of the 20th century.