MoL/ILO workshop on South African labour law reform and labour relations in a multi-ethnic growth economy

The Thai Ministry of Labour and the ILO are sponsoring a workshop that will see South Africa and Thailand exchange experiences with labour law reform and promoting harmonious labour relations.

Press release | BANGKOK | 10 August 2006

BANGKOK (ILO News) -Today the Ministry of Labour and the International Labour Office (ILO) are sponsoring a workshop that will see South Africa and Thailand exchange experiences with labour law reform and promoting harmonious labour relations.

At the two-day workshop, three law professors from South Africa will make presentations on how South Africa first overhauled its labour law after abolishing the "apartheid" system, then review its effect on the competitiveness of South Africa's economy.

The meeting will be opened by the Mr. Thapabutr Jamasevi, Thai Deputy Permanent Secretary of Labour. Some 30 participants are expected to attend.

South Africa is a middle-income economy, with a population of over 43 million people, that is regarded as the economic dynamo of Sub-Saharan Africa. The labour dispute system which it established just over a decade ago has been credited with a sharp reduction in the number of disputes related to termination of employment, number of strikes and violence occurring in the course of strikes. These achievements are all the more remarkable as income inequality remains very high in South Africa .

The workshop provides a forum for joint reflection by representatives from the Royal Thai Government, employers and trade unions on the state of labour law and labour relations in Thailand . A legislative initiative to overhaul the Labour Relations Act, (1975) has been in the works for about a decade, but has yet to be adopted. In the last 10 - 15 years, globalization has changed the dynamics of the labour market, in particular the traditional model of permanent full-time employment with one employer until retirement. These changes are having a substantial impact on relations between employers and workers.

Prof. Michael Halton Cheadle, Prof. Andre Van Niekerk and Prof. Paul Benjamin have extensive experience on labour law and labour relations. Prof. Halton Cheadle is currently a member of the ILO Committee of Experts and a visiting lecturer at Duke Law School ( North Carolina ). He was the Chief Advisor to the Minister of Labour at the time when labour law underwent its first overhaul in post-apartheid South Africa . Prof. Andre Van Niekerk has more than 20 years experience advising the Employers’ Federation of South Africa on labour law, and Prof. Paul Benjamin has an equal amount of experience advising trade unions in South Africa . They both hold positions in the labour judiciary.

The aim of the workshop is to promote direct exchanges between government, workers and employers on labour relations in the three countries. It will also provide an opportunity to explore long-term cooperation in labour relations between South Africa and Thailand .

The workshop: “Labour Relations in Middle-income Growth Economies: Exchanging Experiences between Malaysia , South Africa and Thailand will be held at the Grande Mercure Fortune Hotel, 10-11 August. The event is jointly organized by the International Labour Organization, the Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia and the Ministry of Labour of Thailand .

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Tim De Meyer
Specialist on International Labour Standards and Labour Law
ILO Subregional Office for East Asia, Bangkok , Tel: 662 288 2209,