New postgraduate law offering

26 July 2004

The South African workplace is busy transforming itself more rapidly than most countries due to a cluster of new labour laws, as well as the opening up of the South African economy after 1994. To help people gain an in-depth understanding of the changes in law and the workplace, the law faculty is offering a new postgraduate programme, Workplace Change and Labour Law.

This examines the major laws as well as the Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Employment Equity Act, and the Skills Development Act, and assesses how they affect work organisation and employment relations.

The programme deals with important questions: are the labour laws providing management with sufficient flexibility or not? Do the labour laws facilitate or hinder employment creation? Is employment equity increasing innovation and creativity through diversity or undermining international competitiveness?

Books on the reading lists include the latest edition of the prestigious Labour Relations Law: A Comprehensive Guide by D du Toit et al; Job Creation and Labour Law: From Protection to Pro-action, edited by Marco Biagi and Labour Standards and International Competitiveness: A Comparative Analysis of Developing and Industrialised Countries by André Raynauld and Jean-Pierre Vidal.

Up to two of the four annual courses full-time students have to complete are on labour law. The other two courses focus on crucial contemporary issues in the workplace, such as employment equity, skills development and labour relations. The programme also includes carefully selected South African case studies.

Workplace Change and Labour Law is an interdisciplinary programme with courses ranging from law to sociology and education. Student can also opt to spend either one or two years in the programme (full-time) or to do the programme on a part-time basis. The one-year programme leads to an honours degree (if you hold only a bachelor's degree) and the two-year progamme to an MPhil.

Participants are also required to complete a mini-dissertation on a related research project chosen from the complete field of workplace change and labour law. Or they could include, but are not restricted to, topics such as:

  • company case studies on the implementation of employment equity or skills development
  • dispute resolution and the role of the CCMA
  • trends in the outsourcing and subcontracting of labour
  • the compatibility of bargaining councils and small businesses
  • an evaluation of a particular SETA and its ability to provide skills development
  • worker participation in an enterprise and its impact on job satisfaction and company performance.

Books students will encounter on the course include Work, Employment and Society: Ten Years of Restructuring Post-Apartheid Workplaces, edited by Edward Webster and Karl von Holdt; Shifting Understandings of Skills in South Africa: Overcoming the Historical Imprint of a Low Skills Regime, edited by S McGrath et al; Transition from Below: Forging Trade Unionism and Workplace Change in South Africa, by Karl von Holdt, and Employment Equity and Affirmative Action: An International Comparison, by H Jain, P Sloane and F Horwitz.

For further information contact Shane Godfrey in the law faculty, tel 650 5636, e-mail, or Professor Johann Maree in the humanities faculty, tel 650 3510, e-mail

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