News from South Africa

Membership of the SA Society for Labour Law (SASLAW) increased by 206 members (19%) this year and currently stands at an all-time high of 1240. The increase in membership is attributable in the main to members gained as a consequence of our pro bono project, described below.

Main activities undertaken by the Society during the year

(i) Pro bono project

The Society now has pro bono advisory offices up and running at all four Labour Courts around South Africa. In total, 247 members logged 3,274 hours while assisting 4,125 clients during the year.

More than 40 of our senior members acted as judges of the Labour Court in Johannesburg on a pro bono basis for a week during the recess in December / January 2011/12 and July 2012 to assist the court in addressing the backlog of cases.

(ii) Chapter seminars

SASLAW has four provincial chapters based in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. A total of 36 chapter seminars were conducted during the year, attracting a total of 2,009 delegates (an average of 55 per seminar).

(iii) Public comments and nominations

Important amendments to three of South Africa’s main labour statutes have been debated since 2010 and are expected to be enacted in 2013. The Society submitted detailed public comments on the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and Basic Conditions of Amendment Bill in June 2012.

This led to the Society being invited to make a presentation on its comments to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour.

(iv) SASLAW Annual Conference

SASLAW’s annual conference was held on 18 and 19 October 2012 in Johannesburg. The star attraction was a debate between Advocate Martin Brassey SC and Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of COSATU (the largest trade union federation in South Africa) about contemporary labour issues which were chaired by Judge Dennis Davis of the Cape High Court. A record 403 people attended the conference. SASLAW is most grateful to the delegates, speakers and sponsors for making the conference an enormous success.

(v) The 2015 ISLSSL World Congress

Following the Society being awarded the right to host the XXI ISLSSL World Congress in Cape Town in 2015, a local organising committee (LOC) was appointed under the chairmanship of Judge Andre van Niekerk of the Labour Court. Planning for the congress is well advanced. In September 2012, Prof Darcy du Toit and Prof Marylyn Christianson (both members of the LOC) attended the 2012 ISLSSL World Congress held in Santiago, Chile, with a view to gaining insight and experience in preparation for the 2015 World Congress.