The Skills Development programme for Labour Law and Bargaining formalises the recognition of competencies and will contribute towards developing expertise in both theory and practice in the trade union environment, particularly empowering the shop steward, who carries significant responsibilities at this level in the sector.
This Skills Programme will contribute to education and training in the trade union movement through challenging current industrial relations training by promoting a trade union perspective in line with world-wide trends and standards. It will also enable participants to promote and protect the rights of workers, and advance economic and social justice. Ultimately, the skills programme is aimed at increasing levels of efficiency, effectiveness, coordination and professionalism within the trade union movement.

  • The Skills Development Programme will ensure that the participants acquire the applied competencies and skills contained in the Exit Level Outcomes and will form the basis for further learning both within the sector – which is one of the largest sectors in the country – and outside of it. This Skills Development Programme will assist the trade union movement – whose role in the economy of South Africa is critical – to make a more meaningful contribution in terms of redress, transformation, promotion of the culture of learning and emphasising the holistic development of participants. In essence, it will strengthen the trade union movement.

DITSELA is excited to announce our new Labour Law Skills programme, which is accredited with 20 credits. The programme will be delivered in partnership with ETDP Seta and CHIETA Seta. It will be delivered in three Provinces in 2021 Northern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo.


This module seeks to drive away the tendencies of applying law on the premises of opinion to that of a fact, within the standard of proof through the balance of probabilities. It further ensures that the learners are in a better position to use the law as the most important tool to organize the working environment.

Labour law history inform us that, due to the demands of workers for better working conditions, the right to organize, and not to mention the simultaneous demands of employers to restrict the power of workers` organizations and to keep labour costs low e.g. under payment on salaries and bad working conditions.

History shows that when workers and working-class communities stand together and use their collective strength to tackle problems, they can be incredibly powerful. Why do workers tend to organize themselves in this way? What tools have workers developed to take forward their struggles to organize? Organizing is the heart of workers` power.

Why do we look at organizing and ‘the law’? Labour laws have been developed to mediate/conciliate/arbitrate/adjudicate the disputes and sustain labour peace between workers and employers in a systematic way. A key organizing challenge for workers, is how to use the law as one of many tools to increase workers` unity and power. Their victories against the employers keeps them strong, day by day.

The bosses’ preferred way of resolving problems with workers is to keep them as individuals and isolated cases e.g. individual contract of employment. Health and Safety issues are at the centre of the problems or challenges that the workers` are faced with every day in any work situation. They will ensure that our area of specialization is on the safety side and not on the health side because we should remain ill-informed and that will put their management at a safe position of not complying with the safety laws when they are required to do so. The biggest challenge for the labour movement is to engage with clear strategies and have confidence of how to use the law to build worker unity and power and not allow it to individualize and divide the total workforce.

Why the inclusion of ‘Labour Law as an Organizing Tool’ on the Trade Union Practice.
Ask workers today what problems they face at the workplace be it in the public or private sector, at home or in communities and you will hear similar issues.

  • Permanent jobs disappearing day by day and being replaced by casual jobs esp. Retail Sector.
  • Workplaces outsource different functions (like cleaning, catering, transport, etc.) and it divides workers because they are no longer working for the same employer and find it difficult to tackle the problems they face.
  • Restructuring at workplaces to get workers to produce more, faster and more efficiently, often leading to increases in serious injuries, dismissals through retrenchments.
  • The unions are not able to tackle the challenges they face from an occupational health and safety perspective efficiently.
  • Seasonal jobs whereby workers in certain industries are only called on when there is a demand for their labour, such as in agriculture with the harvesting or fruit-picking season; in hotels during peak-holiday season, etc.

Our core challenge today is how we build our collective capacity and confidence to tackle these problems? This module looks at why these problems exist and how to strengthen organizing in this period. We take a special look at how to use the law as an organizing tool given that so many unions are worrying that too much union energy is spent in the various labour law institutions rather than building collective worker power at the workplace and community levels. We hope that this module will benefit all those who participate as learners and those who will be taught by the learners will in some way to be able to build the workers` organization and its power so that workers could benefit in years to come.

The module covers the below mentioned unit standards as registered with
the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA)






Explain the current legal framework for the trade union environment



Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant current occupational health and safety legislation



Conduct negotiations in labour mediation


Total Units Standard



When the module is completed the learner would be able to/ capable of:

  • Identify and describe the current legislation relevant to workers` rights in South Africa.
  • Explain how the legislation is applied in the workplace.
  • Explain the impact of labour law in relation to trade unions in the workplace.
  • Explain the basic principles of relevant current health and safety legislation and the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Labour laws and current amendments that relate to workplace reorganization.
  • Plan and prepare for negotiations.
  • Evaluate different negotiation processes and outcomes.


  • Representatives from all federations/ unions are encouraged to apply for this programme.
  • Participants would include Shop stewards, Organisers, Educators and young people who wish to acquire credits in Labour Law (Units Standards on the Trade Union Qualification.)

Ditsela will host a National Symposium in partnership with the CCMA and Social Law Project in 2021.
This symposium will focus on the recent Labour Law Amendments, how it affects workers in the workplace as well as in their social welfare and in their own communities. It will also provide a learning space from sharing various experiences.

Delivery Framework

  • Panel discussions/seminars
  • Sharing Case studies