Role of trade union representation at board-level in bridging the inequality gap
Share |


Title:  The role of trade union representation at the board-level of South African listed organisations, in bridging the inequality gap

Means of participation: 

Face-to-face or telephonic interviews 


Deadline to confirm

20 February 2018 


The purpose of this research is to assess whether South African public companies are willing to have trade unions representation at their board-level, adopting a model similar to that of most European (EU) companies. The research will be conducted through interviews with both trade union representatives as well as executive committee members of public companies.


The research project aims to answer the following key questions:

Research Question 1:
To what extent is the lack of trade union participation at the board-level of South African listed companies contributing to the continued increase in the Income Inequality gap?

Research Question 2:
What are the skills-gap that could hinder successful implementation of codetermination?
(Codetermination is defined as the compulsory participation of elected employee representatives in a company’s board in corporate decision-making and corporate control)

The methodology of the research is qualitative, therefore the views from both Business and Trade union representatives are necessary through detailed interviews.


Interview questions: 

The interview would cover the following questions:


Interviewee introduction, name, role, organisation

What are your main responsibilities and level of decision making power within the organisation?

Section 1 – background discussions:
This study is in response to the current high levels of income inequity in South Africa. The government has introduced a wide range measures to reduce poverty and income inequality, for example progressive income taxes, zero-rated VAT goods/services, grants for the poor & destitute and most recently the minimum wage bill, but evidence from the literature reveals South Africa remains being one of the highest most unequal country in the world.


In your opinion, what would you say are the reasons that have enabled Income Inequality to remain as high as it has, despite government intervention?

Have you given any thought into what South Africa could do to tackle this scourge, who would be responsible for this?

Section 2 – Collective Bargaining:
In South Africa, where applicable, the law prescribes that trade unions and employers’ organisations form bargaining councils. Bargaining councils deal with collective agreements, solve labour disputes, establish various schemes and make proposals on labour policies and laws. The Labour Research Services group, states “it is through collective bargaining that workers contest the distribution of wealth with private and public capital and it is through collective bargaining that workers can pursue decent work.”


How would you define the current state of collective bargaining in the country?

Is your opinion above, linked to the current state of trade unions?

Section 3 – Codetermination:
The literature describes Codetermination as the compulsory participation of elected employee representatives in a company’s board in corporate decision-making and corporate control. There are various forms of codetermination but what is key about it, compared to collective bargaining, is codetermination rights aim at strengthening the employees’ bargaining position by giving the employee representatives the right to a say in specific matters of company policies.


What would your opinion be regarding the introduction of Codetermination (employee representation at board-level with voting rights) in South Africa?

Based on your interactions with the various players within the industries, would you say the South African executive management teams and union representatives are skilled and mature enough to engage in meaningful dialogues with one another, ultimately leading to the union reps to forming part of the getting seats in the boardrooms?

To confirm participation,
please contact:
Lehlohonolo Magooa (Hloni)
083 276 3500
011 282 4442 (w)