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The role of collective bargaining in business sustainability and the future of work: a South African perspective


Despite Africa's significant legislative and institutional framework developments, collective bargaining remains underdeveloped. As a contribution to the theoretical discourse on collective bargaining in South Africa, this thesis addresses the question: In what ways can collective bargaining support the viability of corporations while securing employment in the changing world of work? It suggests a need to look into various aspects that contribute to business sustainability within the collective bargaining landscape, which is adequately linked to job security, growth, the development of businesses, and strengthening industrial relations. The study adopted a qualitative research method to outline and combine such aspects using doctrinal, open-ended research questionnaires (based on desktop research) and comparative research methods. The thesis further contributes to an understanding that employers and employees have conflicting interests in employment relations. The thesis argues that while businesses seek to make returns, employees also seek fair wages to satisfy their human needs. The findings further show that collective bargaining plays a vital role in the sustainability of a business by negotiating in good faith and recognising and reconciling various parties' interests. Additionally, collective bargaining can be used by employers and employees to ease the movement of skills development in the changing world of work in which the partnership between humans and machines is inevitable because the growing adoption of artificial intelligence will shape the future of work. The purpose of this thesis is to give clarity as to how collective bargaining can continue to serve its purpose in the changing world of work. To this end, the thesis is valuable in that it contributes to a deeper understanding of other relevant aspects of collective bargaining in the world of work

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This paper was published in Cape Town University OpenUCT.

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