​​Industry wage negotiations Q&A

How do industry wage negotiations come about?

A year prior to the expiry of a current agreement, parties to the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) come together to negotiate a new agreement. The current agreement expires in February 2013. Parties start by drawing up a Negotiation Protocol which seeks to guide parties on what they need to do and expect during the negotiation process.

Who is involved in these negotiations?

There are seven parties to Council involved in the negotiation process, namely the Road Freight Association (RFA), the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA), and Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO) as well as three unions – the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU), the Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU), Tirisano Transport and Services Workers Union (TASWU), and National Union of Metalwokers of South Africa (NUMSA). Council officials provide information, logistics and any necessary support.

What happens during the negotiation process?

During the negotiation process, parties (as per the negotiation protocol) first exchange their needs (commonly called ‘demands’). During the process, parties may seek to go back to their constituencies to seek fresh mandates.

What is expected of both parties during the negotiation process?

  • To work as partners to create an environment for prosperity and success in the Road Freight and Logistics Industry.
  • To drive decisions that ensures the future of the NBCRFLI.
  • To deliver effective and efficient representation and service to those they serve.
  • To reach a settlement that serves social justice, labour peace and economic growth.
  • To combat conflict.
  • To place the maximum premium on time and its management.
  • To communicate meaningfully, with every option to be explored in reaching settlement without resorting to industrial action.
  • To recognize and utilize this negotiation process as an opportunity to understand the needs of both sides and to build relationships so that representatives walk away together, once settlement is achieved, with a strong bond, to ensure the agreement is adhered to and “brought to life”.
  • To ensure that the wage negotiations in the coming year are conducted in accordance with this negotiation protocol.
  • To abide by the settlement reached.
  • To create a “model industry”.

Steps of the negotiation process

In terms of the Negotiations Protocol, the parties will follow the process:
  1. Council will provide them with information requested in the Protocol.
  2. A facilitated workshop will then follow.
  3. Parties will go to their constituencies to seek a mandate.
  4. Needs are then exchanged.
  5. Negotiations starts.
  6. In the event of a deadlock, disputes are facilitated by an accredited commissioner.
  7. If the dispute remains unresolved Section 64 of the LRA may be invoked.
How do involved parties reach a fair negotiation decision?

The following general needs that have been identified in prior engagements between the parties are taken into account:
  • Essential Needs for both Parties
    • Economic and job stability
    • A profitable, competitive enterprise
    • Industrial peace
  • Employer Needs
    • A stable and efficient workplace
    • Competitive labour cost
    • Productivity
    • Industrial peace
    • Compliance with labour legislation in the RSA
    • The ability to adapt rapidly to change (flexibility)
    • To be perceived as a just employer
  • Labour Needs
    • Justice and protection in the workplace
    • ​Security of employment
    • Prevention of exploitation
    • A living wage
    • Recognition of individual/family aspirations and commitments
    • Recognition for contribution/productivity
    • A power structure to recognize these needs

How long does the negotiation process usually take?

The negotiations themselves, excluding the submission of the agreement to the Department of Labour for promulgation, takes about four months.

What, generally, is the outcome of this process?

A signed agreement promulgated in the Government Gazette and enforceable by the Council.

How does this process benefit the Industry?

Once an agreement is promulgated, everyone in the Industry knows what to expect and what is expected of him/her. This sense of certainty amongst all parties helps to promote stability within the Industry.