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Basic Guide to Closed Shop Agreements

Basic Guide to Closed Shop Agreements

A type of collective agreement, a closed shop agreement requires non-union workers to join the union or face dismissal.

Application

The Labour Relations Act applies to all employers, workers, trade unions and employers’ organisations, but does not apply to –
members of the:

  • National Defence Force;
  • National Intelligence Agency; or
  • South African Secret Service

See (Ref)

Applies to all workers and employers and aims to advance economic development, social justice, labour peace and the democracy of the workplace.

What is a Closed Shop Agreement?

A closed shop agreement is a type of collective agreement that requires non-union workers to join the union.

Parties

A closed shop agreement is a type of collective agreement concluded by –

  • a majority trade union (1 or more trade unions whose members are a majority of the workers employed), and
  • an employer or employers’ organisation.

Dismissal

Under a closed shop agreement, non-union workers must join the union or face dismissal. If a union expels a member or refuses to allow a new worker to become a union member, and if this expulsion or refusal is in accordance with the union’s constitution or is for a fair reason, then the employer will have to dismiss the worker.  This dismissal is not considered unfair.

Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious objectors (workers who refuse to belong to a union on the grounds of conscience) may not be dismissed for refusing to join the union.

Legal Force

A closed shop agreement is legally binding only if –

  • 2 thirds of the workers have voted in favour of the agreement;
  • workers are not required to be trade union members prior to employment; and
  • subscriptions and levies are only used to advance or protect the socio-economic interests of workers.

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Originally appeared on labour.gov.za on 30-05-2008. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of estome. estome accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or fairness of the article, nor does the information contained herein constitute advice, legal or otherwise.

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